Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) operatives have stormed the family house of Ayoko Benkum in the Prestea-Himan Divisional Area in the Western Region.
The development, Today gathered, was aimed at investigating the recent media reports of persistent attacks meted out to the family members of Ayoko Benkum by some soldiers in their resistant to give their family lands to Okobeng Mining Company to prospect for gold in the area.
Speaking in an interview with Today via telephone, Abusuapanin of Ayoko Benkum family, Nana Gyedu Cobbinah, confirmed that four personnel of BIN came to meet members of the family to make an enquiry with regard to the recent mayhem visited on them by soldiers allegedly hired by the gold mining company.
“I want to state clearly that somewhere last week after the report by Today newspaper of the move by management of Okobeng Mining Company to use soldiers to take their family lands for prospecting gold in the area, four personnel of BIN from Takoradi came to meet us and we gave them our statements on the matter.
“And after taking our statements they promised to inform us about the outcome of the report on the matter and they went back,” Nana Cobbinah told Today.
It will be recalled that Nana Cobbinah in a recent publication of Today blamed some police officers of bias in their handling of the maltreatment meted out to them by the hired soldiers of the company in the locality.
According to him, soldiers alleged to have been hired by the company have over the past years been disturbing and attacking them, but several official reports made to the police officers in the area have yielded no result.
He pointed out that members of the family have lost hope in the police in the area, and if the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. David Asante-Apeatu, does not act swiftly to address the issue in the area, they will be forced to take the law into their own hands.
Explaining the issue further to Today Nana Cobbinah debunked the widespread allegation of selling the family land to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Okobeng Mining Company, Nana OkobengAmponsah, to mine gold on it in the area.
He mentioned that Nana Amponsah consulted the family in 2011 to mine on the land in an agreement of giving the family 10% of every production.
But later, according to him, the ten per cent agreement was not coming of which the family decided to reclaim the land from Nana Amponsah.
He pointed out that Nana Amponsah claimed ownership of the land and have 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 Western Regional Crime Officer of the Ghana Police Service of which they went but Nana Amponsah failed to appear.
“We have reported the harassment meted out to us by the hired soldiers to the police several times and they seem not to be concerned about our reports. What is more hurting is how soldiers team up with the Okobeng Mining Company to terrorise us, beat us up and fire gun shots sporadically at us on our lands,” he cried out.
The worried Mr. Cobbinah continued, “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”.
Minerals & Mining Matters
…with Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU