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23.05.2006 General News

Illegal chain-sawn operator brutalises forestry taskforce

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Kumasi, May 23, GNA - Members of the Nkawie District Forestry Taskforce were on Monday night, brutalised by a mob allegedly organised by the owner of lumber from suspected illegal chain-saw operation that they had intercepted at the Anloga timber market.

But for the timely intervention of some residents who identified them as forestry officials, members of the taskforce including the District Forestry Manager, Mr Asim Nyarko, officials of the Forestry Services Division (FSD) and military personnel, would have been lynched by the mob when the owner of the lumber, identified as Nana Sebie, blew the alarm that they were thieves.

Briefing the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi on Tuesday, Mr Nyarko said he had a tip-off on Monday afternoon that, Nana Sebie a notorious illegal chain-saw operator in some forest reserves in the District was loading the lumber in the Asenanyo Forest Reserve. The District Forestry Manager said he mobilised the Taskforce and went into the reserve but could not locate the exact site they were loading.

Mr Nyarko said at about 10.30 pm the same day, he received another tip-off indicating that, Nana Sebie was emerging from the reserve with the lumber in a truck he was escorting with a taxi cab and that, he was likely to reach Nkawie by 12 midnight. According to him, he mobilised the Taskforce and set-off on the Nkawie-Nyinahin road. Mr Nyarko said the Taskforce spotted a vehicle with registration number GR 4653 D loaded with lumber escorted by a taxi at a spot about two kilometres from Nkawie town.

He said the military personnel signalled the driver to stop but the occupants of the taxi ordered him to speed off. Mr Nyarko said the Taskforce chased the vehicle, shot and deflated the rear tyres but the driver continued speeding with the rim damaging the road in the process.

He said the Taskforce continued with the chase until they got to the Anloga timber market where the occupants of the taxi and the truck came out and threatened to kill them. Mr Nyarko said when he realised that Nana Sebie had mobilised people to attack them, members of the taskforce decided to escape but their vehicle got stuck in a mud and so abandoned the car and run for their lives. It was at that time, he alleged, that Nana Sebie shouted that they were thieves attracting other people who nearly lynched them.

He said some official documents got missing in the process and the incident was reported to the Oforikrom Police who went to the place they abandoned their vehicle and retrieved some valuable items for him. The Forestry Manager stated that the Taskforce had on two different occasions intercepted vehicles loaded with lumber from illegal chain saw operation said to belong to Nana Sebie.

Mr Nyarko said the vehicles with the lumber had been parked at the District Forestry Office with no one coming forward to claim ownership. A source at the Oforikrom Police station confirmed the story and said no arrested had been made while investigations were continuing.