A few days ago, I was looking through some of the old, yellowing newspapers that clutter my residence(s) like mushrooms in the rainy season, when I came across the following news item in the Daily Guide newspaper of 10 October 2018:
“Amansie Police Free 6 Galamseyers”
“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 6 October 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 [7 October 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 realized 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 finally understand what I had formerly suspected, but now confirmed by the leaked report written by Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, then Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, complaining that the Government he served under, did not quitel support the measures it had itself instituted, ostensibly to fight galamsey.
For in any other country, the fact that six people arrested by the police had "escaped from [the police ] cells" would have been treated as something of a national crisis. Their photographs would have been widely published in all the media and the populace entreated to report any sightings of them anywhere.
And eventually the escapees would have been caught, paraded before the media, and finally 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, 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) that the judiciary ought to regard it as its duty to enable our society to rid itself of its declared enemies; i.e. criminals like the escapees.
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 ipso facto criminals, although initially, they had been mere "suspects". )
I ask myself, why are the Ghana media so lacking in CURIOSITY?
Where else in the world would six people escape from police cells and there would be no enquiries on an hourly/daily/weekly/monthly basis, about the "hunt" for them? Oh MOTHER GHANA! God protect thee! For, alas, many of your citizens are brain-dead!
I wonder whether many people were surprised that our Attorney-General was recently heard complaining that the system of prosecuting and judging galamsey suspects was anything but effective.
Ha -- what does the Attorney-Geheral expect when a 70-year-old woman could be set upon by self-appointed witch-huners and set ablaze in broad daylight, resulting in the arrest and prosecution of aboutt four people, only for the case to be COMPLETELY ABANDONED, ONCE TAKEN TO COURT? SEVERAL ARTICLES HVE BEEN WRITTEN TO CRITICISE THE OINCREDIBLE INACTION, (BY MYSELF!) ONLY TO BE TOTALLY IGNORED BY THE POLICE AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERA'LS DEPARTMENT THAT HAD INITIATED THE PROSECUTION?
In one article I actually named the IGP! IT ASKED: "MR DAMPARE, HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS CASE"?
STILL SILENCE! To this day.
There are two glaring anomalies, relating to the way the police treat galamsey offences, that the DAILY GUIDE article laid bare. One is that the police sometimes seem to obstruct, rather than assist, those whpm the employers of the police (i.e. the Government) has appointed to bring galamsey operations to an end.
If the police seem to set free, or, through negligence, allow people who had been caught carrying out galamsey to escape from custody, how can the Task Force develop the MORALE necessary to go on arresting galamseyers, to take them to the police, for them to (do what...) again?
The members of the Task Force would be super-human if they didn’t tell one another, upon coming across new groups of galamseyers: “Oh, leave them alone! Don’t bother! The police will only let them go if we arrest them! We can't go on bringing the police their 'bread-basket, can we?"
Or someone might say, "Ho, telephone calls -- to the powers that be --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 the early IMCIM days about how galamsey is ruining our water-bodies and should be rooted out if future generations of Ghanaians are to BE GUARANTED GOOD WATER TO DRINK, had not, in the least, reached the ears of the Ghana law enforcement agencies. Or, of course, those who watch over the enforcers of the law!
A second glaring anomaly was that the police did not even seem to recognize the credentials of Task Force members, although police p[ersnnel formed part of the Task Force(s).
Or maybe the police knew that the Anti-galamsey struggle was a charade.
It must be pointed out, that 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 drawing up the anti-galamsey campaign.
Are we to infer from the Amansie West case that the police service. had not been properly briefed on the campaign by its own Minister?
Eye Asem on!
Or: dis one no be small matter oh! At all, at all! I pity anyone who has grand-children. When the water is all gone and they begin to ask, "But Grandpa, where were you when all the water was being destroyed by excavators? Aren't excavators used at building and road construction sites?"
From the above, I hope everyone would agree that our sacred duty to preserve what water we have left for our children and their children, should, not be politicised on any account.
So help us God!