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General News of Tuesday, 30 January 2018


Okobeng Mining accused of using soldiers to brutalise residents

Aggrieved members of Ayoko Benkum family of Prestea Himan Divisional Area in the Prestea Huni-Valley District of the Western Region have accused Okobeng Mining Company of allegedly using soldiers to take their family lands from them for mining.

Speaking in an interview with Today via telephone, Abusuapanin of Ayoko Benkum Family, Mr. Gyedu Cobbinah, accused some police officers of bias in the way and manner they were handling the issue.

According to him, soldiers who were alleged to have been hired by the company had over the past years been disturbing and attacking them, but several official reports made to the police officers in the area have yielded no positive results.

He pointed out that members of the family have since lost confidence in the police in the area.

To this end, he called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, to, as a matter of urgency, act on matter so as to avoid any confrontation between the residents and the hired soldiers.

Explaining the issue to Today Mr Cobbinah debunked the widespread allegation of selling the family land to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Okobeng Mining Company, Nana Okobeng Amponsah, to mine gold on it.

He mentioned that Nana Amponsah consulted the family in 2011 to mine on the land in an agreement that the family would be given 10% of every production.

But, later according to him, the agreed percentage was not forthcoming, of which the family decided to reclaim the land from Nana Amponsah.

He further pointed out that Nana Amponsah claimed ownership of the land and even leased it to some Chinese nationals to do mining regardless of the directive by government to cease small-scale mining activities.

He stressed that Nana Amponsah even reported the issue to the Western Regional Crime Officer of the Ghana Police Service of which they went but Nana Amponsah failed to appear.

“But still Nana Amponsah is harassing we the members of the Ayoko Benkum with soldiers and police officers.

“We have reported the matter to the police several times but they seem not to be concerned about our reports made to them. What is more hurting is how soldiers team up with the Okobeng Mining Company to terrorise us, beat us up and fire gunshots sporadically at us on our lands,” he cried out.

The worried Mr. Cobbinah added, “we have pictures of some of the atrocities suffered in the hands of these soldiers, which have received no attention from the police in the area.”

They, however, called on the police hierarchy and the military high command, to come to their aid, since they feel unsafe in the community because of the activities of these soldiers.

Meanwhile, attempts by Today to reach Nana Amponsah via telephone have been fruitless, as he has not been picking his calls.