Four Chinese illegal miners, working for a small scale mining company called, Hansol, belonging to Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, alias “Chairman Wontumi”, have been arrested by the operatives of the National Security, after engaging the operatives in a fierce gun battle in the Daaso and Kenlago in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.
Four pump action guns, as well as quantity of live ammunition, were retrieved from the illegal Chinese miners and a Ghanaian, who claims to be a manager of Hansol. They have been handed over to the police for thorough investigations and possible prosecution.
This comes days after the 36-year old “Chairman Wontumi”, who doubles as the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), made an ethnocentric threat that he was going to stage an Arab Spring-like uprising in the Ashanti Region, mobilizing 1 to 2 million people unto the streets of Kumasi, against government’s capitation policy under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
According to reports, but for the professional tactics employed by the National Security operatives, the late Thursday swoop, would have recorded some casualties, as the Chinese were said to be wielding very sophisticated weapons, ready to attack any group or individual, who attempted to disrupt them.
It will be recall that last year; an Inter-ministerial Task Force, instituted by the President, John Dramani Mahama, chalked some success, after it managed to flush out many of the illegal miners, who are largely Chinese national.
Last year June, Hansol accused members of an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce of extortion; setting ablaze some of the company’s structures and equipment, quantifying everything they lost to the tune of US$3 billion; a claim the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini debunked saying, official investigations proved otherwise.
However, less than a year, after the operation meant to save Ghana’s forests, water bodies and cocoa farmers, from the Chinese, reports picked up by “The Herald” indicate that, the illegal miners are back in most parts of the country, especially Amansie West and Central of the Ashanti Region, doing brisk illegal mining, popularly called “Galamsey”.
Areas such as Koniaso, Awona, Akutuase and Kokoteasoa concessions of AngloGold, have all been taken over by these Chinese nationals, most of them brought into Ghana by “Chairman Wontumi”, sold them gold concessions and rented out excavators, pickup trucks and generators, depleting the country’s forest reserve, cocoa farms and polluting water bodies in the name of mining.
Mr. Antwi-Boasiako, at an NPP rally in Obuasi over a week ago, threatened to initiate moves to repeat the popular Arab Spring, which sparked off in Tunisia in early 2011, after a street vendor, Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on firej, citing harassment and humiliation from municipal authorities.
Bouazizi’s death, triggered a wave of demonstrations that cleared out a 23-year old Tunisian regime, the overthrow of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Murmur Gaddafi and plunged Syria into a civil war, while many other Arab countries, such as Turkey continue to suffer one form of unrest after another.
“Chairman Wontumi”, threatened, “In a month’s time, I chairman Wontumi, will organize one million to two million people in the Ashanti Region to join a big demonstration for about a month”. If he knows, he will have come to remove that capitation from the Ashanti Region”.
“What the Tunisians did, we are going to do same here in Ashanti Region; May Chairman Wontumi never rest until the NDC is overthrown,” he swore.
The 36-year-old, who some have said may be speaking with youthful exuberance, attacked National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and most especially, President John Mahama, alleging sources within government have told him that the security capo, was planning to plant cocaine on him to make it look like he deals in the illegal substance.
“Gbevlo-Lartey should listen, now I have heard that he is planning at his base at the National Security to brand me as a cocaine dealer, Gbevlo-Lartey you can’t, you lie, you can never, John Mahama you can’t. If it was 2012 that you came to rig the elections, now I am in-charge. I am the governor of Ashanti and you can never do that again”.
Mr. Antwi-Boasiako at the Obuasi rally, promised to unseat the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by President Mahama, adding that if he is unable to do that, he will relinquish his position as the NPP chairman of the party in the Region.
The same Chairman Wontumi, recently claimed he has been receiving threatening messages from some unknown people, but refused to report the issue to the security agencies, because he insists he does not trust them and so will leave the issue to the court of public opinion and God. It is unclear whether he was being pursued by his business partners.