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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Columnist: RFI

Deaths at Wilmar Project In Tema

How The Police Killed Two Of The Three Persons Who Died During The Resistance To The Wilmar Project In Tema: By Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio

It is sad that for the period that the media has reported on the incident that occured in Tema over the attempted forcefull ejection of fisher folks from the land on which they undertake their legitimate livlihood activities, the media either deliberately or for lack of information has refused to report on the cause of the riot or the persons killed by the Police.

Interestingly, even when I was in cells I had all manner of reasons for which I was arrested which was targetted at tarnishing my image. Fortunately however, the Investigator in my case, slipped when he spoke with my people who upon asking for bail for me said, “this is an international case and Richster’s case is even more serious because he granted interview to city Fm”.
Yes I did speak with Shamima Muslim on Citi Fm’s eye witness accounts, on my way to Tema from Accra on the 17th of September 2010. I told Shamima in that interview that, in my opinion, the investor, Mr. Alex Asiedu, the Director General of Ghana Ports Harbours Authority (GPHA), Mr. Nestor Galley, the Estates Officer of GPHA Mr. Gim-Fugah and the Metropolitan Chief Executive for Tema, kempis Ofosu Ware as well as the Tema Regional Police Commander must be held responsible individually and collectively for what happened and though the Regional Police Commander had denied any incidence of lost of lives, I had information one (1) person was dead and had been washed ashore.
When I enquired after securing my bail on how the people died, (Mensah, Mantey and a pregnant woman (I am yet to confirm)) I had the following accounts, besides every night the families of the deceased come to me to enquire on what needed to be done.
Mantey: They went fishing, so where not ashore at the time of the riot. Having been caught in the indiscriminate shooting by the police, Mantey and the others decided to use the shore line to avoid the police. The police on spotting them started firing towards their direction, he was hit and he fell into the sea. His colleagues who attempted rescuing him were prevented with the continues firing of tear gas, they jumped into the water and swam to safety. He was washed ashore after 2hrs and having been inspected by Inspector P Asare of Tema New Town Police the body was taken to the morgue. Yet to have post mortem conducted on him.
Mensah: Mensah was also shot with live bullets by the police close to his home, from the bathroom by the police around the part of New newton called “Too”. His friends found a taxi and attempted to transport him to the hospital, and having been turned away at both the Manhean Health Centre and the Naval Sick Bay, they decided to go towards Tema General Hospital. Upon reaching the Chemu drain the taxi was stooped by the police who then arrested the escorts, kept the taxi for close to 45mins. It was too late for the youngman to survive any medical care, he is also in the morgue now. The escorts are still in cells.
WHAT HAPPENED: Unfortunately a picture is painted out there as if the fisher folks, like “Lunatics” and without provocation just decided to set things ablaze and went beserk. On Thursday September 16, after conferring with the Dep. Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Nii Amasa Namoale, we (including members ofthe Tema Traditional Council and the 17 member committee- Nii Shippi and Akwanshontse and the two Chief Fishermen all inclusive) asked the workers of Wilmar not to go ahead with the work they were about to begin. Having satisfied himself that any attempt to continue could breach the peace, Col. Ansu of Tema Mitchel Camp together with some police officers and GPHA security personnel promised not to allow the continuation of the project till all conflicting issues are resolved.
On Friday, September 17, my information is that, as early as 6:30am, the workers came with about 8 police escorts. They then started destroying everthing on site including anchovies (Keta School Boys) spread on the ground. Attempts to stop them moved the police to start firing tear gas into the women, the clouded beach and the township. The few persons around then responded with stones and were able to overpower the police. When the police had run away they started setting the equipments on fire.
These part of the report has always been missing, and since I only got there when the damage had been caused and the persons moved into town, I needed to cross-check my facts and these I am convinced are the facts.
As much as I condemn the violence like I always say, I wish Ghanaians could ask the IGP to have his Regional Commander for Tema explain why he provided police escorts to a project that is yet to receive any approval for EPA permit, and yet to host a public hearing on its EIA, having showed evidently that it is a potentially explosive project.
If H.E the President will require from his appontees the Metropolitan Chief Executive for Tema and the Director General for GPHA the basis for pushing a project which a comprehensive security report has declared potentially explosive.
During the incident, there was a meeting at the offices of the Director General of GPHA and present at the meeting were, the Mayor for Tema, DG for GPHA, Alex Asiedu of Wilmar, the Regional Police Commander for Tema an the Tema Mantse amongst others. I Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio was the topic, and the plan was and still has been to assasinate me. I still pick security signals that my life is still on the line so far as I continue to talk about this project but I can’t hold my peace when on Wednesday October 13, the Chief of Staff is meeting key Ministers and have invited the Tema Traditional Council to meet and discuss the conflict over the ownership of the land between the Ghana Navy and the GPHA.
Not even at that highest level are they talking about the lost of lives of innocent citizenry and the continues incaceration of 23 persons arrested from their rooms, beaten and dumped in various police cells, only for the Police to say they were picked at the location and environs of the riot.
This is our country and as an advocate I will continue to say and stand by the truth.