Some weeks ago, I was looking through some of the old newspapers that accumulate in my residence(s) when I came across this item:
“The Excavator Tracking Task Force of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) arrested a Chinese (man) and six Ghanaians in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region (on October 6, 2018) for engaging in illegal mining (galamsey).
The suspects were handed over to the Amansie West Police, but the six Ghanaians surprisingly escaped from police custody.
“The Task Force said the Chinese (man) would be handed over to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for the necessary action to be taken.
“Items seized from the suspects included five pump-action guns, (many rounds of) ammunition, CCTV monitors, a recorder and sand (that contained) gold ore.
“Meniru Ahmed, a member of the Excavator Tracking Task Force, told journalists during a media briefing in Accra on (October 7, 2018) that the Task Force arrested the illegal miners upon a tip-off. He said the suspects were engaging in illegal mining under the pretext of reclaiming some mined-out areas in the Amansie West District.
“…After the arrest, the Task Force handed the suspects to the police, in order to follow up on leads to (another) illegal mining site. However, upon (their) return to the police station, they did not meet any of the police personnel and realised that (the) six Ghanaians had escaped from the cells.
“Mr Meniru stated further that while they were at the mining site, some police personnel came there to arrest THEM [members of the Task Force] upon the request of one of the illegal miners. He, therefore, appealed to the Government to assist the Task Force in its efforts to halt galamsey.”
After reading this report, I began to understand anew, why there is a widespread impression that the anti-galamsey struggle cannot succeed.
For in any other country, the fact that SIX PERSONS arrested by the police had “escaped from their cells” would, irrespective of their crime, have been treated as a national CRISIS.
Their photographs would have been widely published in all the media and the populace entreated to report any sightings of them.
And eventually public cooperation, fed by the wide publicity, would have ensured that they were caught. Once caught, they would have been triumphantly paraded before the media, prior to being taken to court.
The judicial officers before whom they would have been taken, would have realised that it was a serious matter for suspects to manage to escape from police cells.
It is serious because (1) they could constitute great danger to the public at large; (2) they might be would-be murderers or rapists or gun-slingers; and (3) the judiciary ought to regard it as its normal duty to enable our society to rid itself of all of its declared enemies; i.e. criminals.
But so dead is our collective consciousness that look as I would, I could not find another reference to the escape of the criminals from police cells (please note that once they had escaped from police cells they were criminals, ab initio!)
I ask myself, why are the Ghana media so lacking in curiosity? Where in the world would six people escape from police cells without any enquiries on an hourly/daily/weekly/monthly basis about the “manhunt” for them? Ghana, of course! The law officers here might want to see “evidence”
First before ordering their rearrest!
Indeed, one wonders whether many people were surprised that our Attorney-General was heard complaining at one time that the system of prosecuting and judging galamsey suspects was anything but “effective.”
Ha — what does the Attorney-General expect when a 70-year-old woman could be set upon by self-appointed witch-hunters and set ablaze to die, in broad daylight? Four people were taken to court, only for the case to be COMPLETELY ABANDONED! SEVERAL ARTICLES WRITTEN TO CRITICISE THE INACTION, HAVE BEEN TOTALLY IGNORED BY THE POLICE AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERA’LS DEPATMENT, THAT HAD INITIATED THE PROSECUTION.
One article actually named the IGP! IT DEMANDED: “MR DAMPARE, HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS CASE”? (STILL SILENCE).
There are two glaring anomalies, relating to the way the police treat galamsey offences, need redressing. One is that the police sometimes obstruct, rather than assist, those the employers of the police (i.e. the government) has appointed to bring galamsey operations to an end.
If the police sem to set free, or, through negligence, allow people who had been caught carrying out galamsey, to escape from custody, how can the Task Forces go on arresting galamseyers to take them to the police for them to…do what with them… again?
The members of the Task Force would be super-human if they didn’t tell one another, upon coming across galamseyers: “Oh, leave them alone! Don’t bother! The police will only let them go if we arrest them!”
Or someone might say, “Ho, telephone calls are being made, even as we speak. By the end of the day, all the excavators taken to the police would also have been released back to their owners! Galamsey fight? Tell me another!”
It’s as if all the noise that was made in IMCIM days about how galamsey is ruining our water-bodies and should be rooted out if future generations of Ghanaians are to BE GUARANTEED GOOD WATER TO DRINK, has not in the least reached the ears of the Ghana law enforcement agencies..
A second glaring anomaly was that the police did not seem to recognize the credentials of Task Force members, although police personnel formed part of the Task Force(s)!!
Now, Task Force or no Task Force, the Minister of the Interior, under whose overall supervision the police operate, was a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) that was in charge of the anti-galamsey campaign. Are we to infer from the Amansie West case that the police had not been properly briefed on the campaign by their own Minister?
It is extremely important that no confusion whatsoever should be allowed to exist between the functions of the district police establishments and whicvere body happens to be spearheading anti-galamsey operations at anjy one time. In an ideal world, the Task Force(s) would send signals ahead to local police establishments, announcing their intention to carry out operations in their districts.
But past experience has taught the Task Force(s) that informing the police ahead of operations can lead to galamseyers being tipped off to vacate their sites – together with their equipment – before the arrival of the Task Force(s)!
It is to be hoped that our military and police personnel, as patriotic Ghanaians, fully appreciate that the anti-galamsey campaign is to safeguard our water-bodies so that our villagers do not need to find [non-existent] money to buy sachet water, when they want to quench their thirst or cook their food. That objective will cotninue to exist, whichever Government happens to be in power. Our duty to our children and grand-children should not be politicised on any account. So we must not SURRENDER TO GALAMSEY!”