A member of Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee, Edward Aning is calling for the arrest of the Interior Minister for circumventing the laws of the country and granting mining permits to Chinese nationals.
His call comes in the wake of Joy News’ interception of documents indicating that several of the 125 Chinese nationals arrested last week for engaging in illegal small scale mining had legal documents secured from the Interior Ministry, allowing them to work in the mines.
The permits were granted by the Interior Ministry’s Quota Committee in June 2010.
Even though President John Mahama today justified the arrest of the Chinese, questions are now being asked as to why the Interior Ministry will grant permits to these so-called illegal Chinese miners and then turn around in barely three years to arrest them?
Mr Edward Aning, who is also the MP for Obuasi East, is therefore demanding a swift investigation and prosecution of the Interior Minister.
He is also calling for the prosecution of the Chief Executive Officer of Hansol Mining Company Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, who employed the Chinese.
“The Hansol company manager himself should be arrested because he knows the law does not permit that,” he told Joy FM’s Top Story on Wednesday.
According to Mr Aning, small scale mining is a sole preserve of Ghanaians, and said it is “surprising” for the Interior Minister to issue licence for foreigners to operate in that sector.
He emphasised that the permits were “totally wrong”.
“The minister should be punished for that,” he insisted, stressing “it is very, very bad for the minister to do so.”
Mr Aning said even thought the issue was yet to come to the attention of the Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee, he will inform the chairman of the committee to find a way of dealing with the situation although Parliament is on recess.
The MP warned the committee will “advise ourselves” if government fails to investigate and prosecute the culprits in what has been described as a mining scandal.
Meanwhile, in justifying the arrest, President Mahama said the country was only enforcing its laws, adding that it would not affect Ghana’s relationship with China.
He said he has spoken to the Chinese Ambassador to assure him that his compatriots are not the target. He stated that irrespective of one’s nationality, the country’s law would not discriminate when dealing with offenders.
President Mahama was speaking at the Flagstaff House during a visit by the Ghana/China Friendship Association.
“I wish to assure our Chinese friends that our relationships remain on solid grounds, and we will continue to work together.”
But the CEO of Hansol Mining Company Bernard Antwi-Boasiako who has since criticised the arrest of the Chinese insisted that they had legal permits to operate.
In a letter signed by Samuel Amankwah, Secretary of the Immigrant Quota Committee of the Ministry of Interior, Hansol was permitted to employ six mining engineers, two mechanical engineers and two electrical engineers.
“You are advised to recruit suitably qualified Ghanaians and train them to take over from the expatriates as soon as possible,” the letter to the Managing Director of the company read in part.
Mr Antwi-Boasiako who is also the Chairman of the Ghana Chinese Chamber of Commerce said he is formally going to write to the Inspector General of Police for action, noting “once there is no law, there is no sin”.