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Regional News of Monday, 31 August 2020

Source: theheraldghana.com

Ex-soldier cites Okyenhene in Dome Faase land grab and military brutalities

Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori Panyin II Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori Panyin II

The ex-soldier turned Akyem Apedwa Mponuahene, Nana Barfuor Sarpong Okumakuma, the man at the centre of last Tuesday's shooting and brutalities at Dome Faase, a community in the Ga South Municipality of the Greater Accra Region, has broken his silence, claiming he was working for Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori Panyin II.

According to the traditional ruler, he only serves at the pleasure of the Akyem Abuakwa king, implying the unleashing of gun brutalities at the community in the Domeabra-Obom Constituency, was carried out with explicit permission from Okyehene.

The ex-Military officer,formerly with the dreaded 64 Battalion under former President Jerry John Rawlings, said he and others, act at the whims and caprices of Okyehene and that they only act on his orders serving as his police guards protecting his lands.

Meanwhile, some of the community members who sustained various degrees of injuries are in critical condition at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

The Herald is informed the injured were brutally assaulted in their abdomen by the military and three of them urinate blood. The Assembly member for Obom, got his knees broken and is in another hospital.

But the chief cum ex-soldier, has absolved himself of any wrongdoing, blaming the Member of Parliament (MP) Sophia Akuoku for instigating the attack.

According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP, who stormed the disputed land with members of the community and some journalists, called for what happened.

"The MP has no motherly love. I came to the area because of the invitation she extended to me on Angel TV, but when I got to the area, the way the woman was clad in red from head to toe, while storming the area with men following her, I became stunned that people in authority could behave in that manner.

She was the cause of the incident. We have lived in the community for almost a month, we talk to the MCE, chiefs, I have no idea, why she did that. As to why she did that I cannot say or what she knows that resulted to injuries of people who had come to assist Four cars, motorbikes, generator, our place of abode were all destroyed we could not salvage even one".

The claim by Nana Barfuor Sarpong Okumakuma, who works for the Forestry Commission (FC) as a security trainer, follows his unmasking last Friday by The Herald, after he visited mayhem on the chief and people of Dome Faase, as a result of a land he has been scheming to repossess because according to him, it belongs to the Akyem Stool.

He had in the company of some military men and land guards, reportedly stormed the Dome Faase community after months of disagreements over who rightly possesses the land there.

The community folks argue, the land is owned and supervised by the Sempe Manste and Nglishie Mantse in the Greater Accra Region. However, the Akyem Apedwa Mponuahene, rejected this claim and insisted the land belongs to the Akyem Stool.

While the Dome Faase people claim the land in question falls beyond the Densu River, but within the Greater Accra Region and shares boundary with the Eastern Region, the Akyems who they call "encroachers" are also claiming that particular portion of the land, falling beyond the Densu River though in the Greater Region.

This back and forth, unexpectedly degenerated into brutal gun shooting last Tuesday, leading to severe injuries on both sides. One person from the community lost his life from gun injuries from the military who stormed the community on Wednesday after their men were held hostage and given severe beatings the day before.

Speaking to the media in Akyem in the Eastern Region over the weekend, Nana Barfuor SarpongO kumakuma, said contrary to what appears to be the case in the media, neither he nor the stool, has any qualm with the people on the land stating, the bone of contention, however, is the disputed land belongs to the Akyem Stool and that all they were seeking to do, was to set the record straight and also retrieve it for the right owners.

But what ensued on Tuesday, indicate the road to get back the land, has not been smooth, forcing the chief and his men to launch a gun attack on the people who according to reports, faced the military and the traditional ruler even without weapons.

According to him, although no formal engagement has been reached since the incident, Okyenhene is prepared to dialogue with the community for amicable resolution. He said Okyehene will avail himself for dialogue on condition that the chief and people of Dome Faase, will come before their king and plead that they were at fault and wish to be forgiven.

"Since the incident, we have not met, but before now, we met them and they gave way for us to start work there, but since the current incident, we have not met but I am getting calls that they want to dialogue so that peace will prevail so that is what we are waiting for. We look forward to when Okyehene will give way. Everything is in his hands.

We look up to him, everything is in his hands and I am hopeful he will speak up. We are only his people, we are only his police who guard his land, we are only his laborers. We cannot stretch issues; like Okyehene says, Okyeman for Christ, we are Christians, when they come and plead that they are at fault why not?

We have no issue with them, we are all Ghanaians, we want peace, we want development. We want no division. We should remain as one people and be able to move to the length and breadth of the country."

Nana Barfuor Sarpong Okumakuma, said he has received calls that the Dome Faase people want settlement of the disagreement, adding they are not interested in visiting atrocities on the people, but reiterated the land in question belongs to the Akyem Stool and that there is no debate about that.

"For the record, it is our borders we are talking about. Every border for Okyeman is the Densu [River] and that is what we are talking about.Something that was left for us by our forefathers. It is no tree that was cut and it grew, it was a river they are our brothers and so if they come today and they want dialogue, Okyehene will welcome them.

They are his children. We have no issue with people in Accra. Okyeman, has a share on Ga land and his kingship extends to that area too".

The ex-military man also worked with the National Security under former Coordinator Lt Col. Larry Gbevlo Lartey, but now in a private contract with the Forestry Commission (FC) recruiting for the military to train and equip on behalf of the Commission.

Nana BafuorSarpongOkumakuma at the National Security was popularly known as Okyeman and operated from the Tema Port.

He was contracted under late Forestry Commission boss KwadwoOwusuAfriyie during whose tenure it became a law that the Commission's officers be trained in Military tactics and weapon handling because of the deadly nature of their job.

Per his contract, WO 2 Sarpong is responsible for scouting for recruits from the various districts, trained and equippedby the military. He therefore serves as a liaison officer between the military and the Commission.

Meanwhile Herald sources saythe ex-soldier was invited on Thursday by the Commission to answer questions over the attacks.

Three out of the four cars that were burnt in the dispute belong to the Commission while the other one belongs to the National Security. He has been tasked to bring back the National Security car and he has assured he will make it available.

Meanwhile, the President of the Ga Traditional Council, Boni Tackie Adama Latse II, has appealed to the people of Dome Faase and AkyemApedwa, to exercise restraint while the appropriate authorities seek an amicable solution to the issue.

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