Okyeman accuses Police of protecting illegal sand winners

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D.M Ofori Atta, Akyem Abuakwa State Secretary addresses the press

The Akyem Abuakwa Stool Land Protection Agency has accused the Ghana Police Service of complicity in illegal sand winning activities and continuous terrorising of some residents within the area. This follows an order by the Inspector General of Police for the arrest of members of the agency following its attempt to foil illegal sand winning activities in the area recently.

According to members of the agency, many of whom are chiefs, one Samuel Atsu Forson and his partner, Torgbui Agah Semaglo, have for some time now being terrorising residents and farmers in the area. The two, operating under the company name Summertide Company Ltd, within Yakooko, Teacher Mante and surrounding communities, Ahwerase-Daaman, Amaadi and Akotua Krom in the Coaltar District, Asuoba in the West Akyem District and its catchment area claim their activities have been sanctioned by the Okyenhene.

The chiefs say upon receiving series of complaints from residents, they invited Torgbui Agah Semaglo and  Samuel Atsu Forson before the Akyem Abuakwa State Council to provide documentation that permit them to undertake sand wining in the area.

They explained that Mr Atsu Forson couldn’t provide any permit from the Environmental Protection Agency nor the Minerals Commission to support their activities in the area.

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Petition

Further checks at the Minerals Commission and Environmental Protection Agency disclosed that the company was operating illegally in the area.

Following this disclosure, the chiefs petitioned the Inspector General of Police on the issue.

In the petition, the chiefs informed the IGP of allegations of the use of unidentified police officers and hired thugs and hoodlums who resort to the use of violent attacks and intimidation to harass the residents. The petition further outlined measures taken by the traditional council to get the company to do the right thing including desisting from using the name of the okyenhene to perpetuate illegalities.

“We wish to kindly call on your outfit to immediately effect the arrest of Torgbui Agah Semaglo and Samuel Atsu Forson and to further carry out proper investigations into their unlawful conduct. We assure you that the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council will co-operate with your outfit for possible prosecution,” portions of the petition dated March 3 2021 read.

Follow-up

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday June 23, Akyem Abuakwa State Secretary, D. M. Ofori Atta explained that after waiting for several days without any action from the police and following continuous complaints from the residents, the Akyem Abuakwa Stool Land Protection Agency and the Okyeman Environmental Protection Taskforce decided to follow up to see the extent of destruction at the sand winning sites.

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He explained that the two teams were greeted with some ‘gun wielding hoodlums’ who fired several gunshots at the chiefs and members of the Taskforce. He noted that members of the two teams quickly escaped for their lives but managed to arrest four of the thugs and handed them over to the police.

Mr Ofori Atta said following the incidents, Mr Atsu Forson filed a complaint of kidnap among other offences against the chiefs. Admitting that members of the two teams went to the site with registered gun, he stated that they didn’t exchange fire with those they met at the sand winning sites.

Arrest and prosecution

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) James Oppong-Boanuh, however, last week ordered the arrest of the chiefs and members of the two teams.

Those arrested included Nana Sarpong Baffuor Kumankuma Awuah, 59; Nana Tabiri Dade, 59; Jonathan Martey, 39; Eric Yaw Obeng, 49, Victor Ahenkora Koranteng, 37 among others.

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They were arraigned before the Koforidua Circuit Court on Friday, June 19, 2021, on seven charges which are conspiracy to commit crime (to wit kidnapping,) kidnapping, causing unlawful harm, stealing, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, possession of firearm and ammunitions.

At their first appearance before the court, they were admitted to a bail of GH¢200,000 each with two sureties. The case was adjourned to July 19, 2021, for them to reappear.

Disappointment

The Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council has since expressed disappointment over the actions of the Ghana Police Service.

Mr Ofori Atta alleged that a Police vehicle from the Adeiso Police Station fully occupied by police personnel have been complementing security for the illegal sand wining activities by the company.

He hinted that, the traditional council will endeavour to protect their lands and subjects from all illegal activities if the Police can’t protect them.

He accused Mr Atsu Forson of forging signatures on documents to make it look like he has necessary permits to work adding that the Kyebi Divisional Police Command is investigating the case of the forgery.

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