One hundred and twenty Chinese nationals have been arrested in an armed operation undertook by officials of the Ghana Immigration Service to find and apprehend illegal miners working in dangerously dug pits.
The officials also retrieved unspecified number of guns, some with fully loaded cartridges from the Chinese.
Many have raised questions about the commitment of Ghanaian authorities to strictly prosecute the Chinese. But Joy News has learnt that all the Chinese arrested were today granted a GH˘5000 bail with “stiff sureties”.
Meanwhile authorities are expediting repatriation process to “kick them out” to China, as advised by lawyers for the Ghana Immigration Service, its Public Relations Officer, Francis Palmdetti told Joy FM’s Top Story on Thursday.
He said, “We are collaborating with Chinese authorities and hope as early as possible tickets would be purchased for them and have them repatriated”.
He is however certain the repatriated foreigners whose names will be put on Ghana’s “stop list” would find it difficult to come back to the country.
“Once they leave this country there is no way they are coming back,” he stressed, but said the law can be relaxed if they petition Ghana’s Minister for Interior.
Flouting our rules
Nevertheless, Mr Palmdeti noted that there are about 3000 Chinese nationals in Ghana, adding, it is not the intention of the Service to “harass” those doing genuine business in the country.
He however stressed that the laws in Ghana do not permit foreigners to engage in small scale mining.
“We are dealing with the individuals who are in a place where they are not suppose to be, our Immigration Act gives us options to deal with such cases…we want law abiding foreigners to live in our country. Those who come in flouting our rules, whether they are the Chinese, the Americans or British, we will make sure that we act decisively on such circumstances…these (Chinese) individuals are flouting our rules.”
He remarked that while some of these illegal foreign workers came in under different condition, others arrived as business visitors, but there are some who came in with fake visas.
The Public Relations Officer called for collaboration among other state institutions to flush out illegal workers in Ghana.
Mr Francis Palmdeti also stated that their work is being impeded by the actions of some citizens who either hide the foreigners or give them hint to run away.
“This particular operation that we conducted, we would have arrested a lot more but for the unpatriotic act of some of our citizens.”
Meanwhile, chairman of Ghana-China Business Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Hansol mining company, Bernard Antwi-Boasiako has accused the Immigration Service of indiscriminately arresting Chinese nationals.
Sounding livid, he did not mince words when he bluntly uttered, “the immigration officer there is lying”, and promised to expose the Immigration Service.
Insisting that most of the Chinese arrested had valid working permit, he said the recent operation was a face saving exercise by the service to redeem its battered image.
Mr Antwi-Boasiako argued that the Chinese have been employed by Ghanaians to work on their concessions but are not mining their own minerals. He further explained that these Chinese nationals supported the locals with capital and machinery, something he said the government of Ghana has failed to do for them.
Play the attached audio to listen to their voices and those of Dr Emmanuel Bonbamde of WANEP and Dr Lloyd Amoah who studied in China