Court Acquits Small-Scale Miner Over Galamsey Charge

An Akyem Oda-based small-scale miner, who was charged with illegal mining has been acquitted and discharged by the Koforidua Circuit 'B' Court.

Osabarima Ankomah Bempong, the miner, was acquitted by the court alongside four accomplices, namely Ansah Darkwah, Salleh Ali, Hussein Ali and Mohammed Omar. The court, presided over by Matilda Ribeiro, further ordered the Oda Divisional Police Command to release all vehicles, mining equipment and passports seized from the accused persons to them with immediate effect.

The acquittal of the five persons followed the production of legal documents by Osabarima Bempong that he was a licensed small-scale miner.

His claim was corroborated by the management of the State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA) with documentary evidence that Osabarima Bempong had legally acquired a mining lease from the authority.

Facts
The facts of the case as presented to the court were that the Oda District branch of the Minerals Commission entered the mining concession of Osabarima Bempong at Akyem Aboabo on May 1, 2023, and seized machines and mining equipment when no worker was at the site, and handed them to the Oda Divisional Police Command.

When Ansah Darkwah and the other three went to the Divisional Police Headquarters to explain to the police that their boss, Osabarima Bempong, was a licensed small-scale miner, they were arrested and hauled before the court.

On hearing of the arrest and prosecution of four of his workers, Osabarima Bempong went to the court to explain to them that they were not illegal miners, but he was instead also apprehended by the police and charged together with the four.

The court proceedings lasted over one year before the four accused persons were acquitted and discharged when the presiding judge was satisfied that Osabarima Bempong was doing genuine business.

Media briefing
Speaking to the media after gaining his freedom, Osabarima Bempong advised the police and staff of the Minerals Commission to conduct thorough investigations before accusing and arresting innocent people as illegal miners.

He stressed that as a respected traditional ruler who knew about the implications of illegal mining, he would not engage in galamsey to dent his hard-won reputation and that of the Akyem Kotoku State.

He said the over one year court proceedings had affected him in several ways. It will be recalled that the Daily Graphic, on May 16, 2023, published the denial of illegal mining activities by Osabarima Bempong's company.

The denial was made at a well-attended news conference addressed by Mr Owusu Agyekum, the General Manager of Nana Bempong's mining company.