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04.10.2007 General News

Police Clash With Civilians In Nzema

By Daily Guide

A CLASH BETWEEN the police and people of Anwia and Teleku Bokazo in the Nzema East District of the Western region has resulted in the loss of two AK 47 rifles belonging to the police.

Two policemen whose names were not immediately known and two civilians got wounded in the process and are all on admission at the St. Martin's de Porres Hospital in Eikwe.

Three other people from Anwia were said to have received minor injuries from stray bullets.

The wounded persons included Kponde Wodee, who was hit by a stray bullet on the left leg; Dagyane, who also was wounded on the forehead; as well as a policeman.

According to DSP Peter Ndebugri Anombugri, Western Regional Commander of the Police Striking Force, the policemen had escorted some heavy-duty equipment to the site of Adamus Resources Limited (ARL), a gold prospecting company based at Nkroful, when the clash occurred.

He could not give details of the incident, but said calm had returned to area, and that some armed police personnel had been sent to the area to ensure law and order.

The Police boss however made it clear that the police would ensure that the rifles, suspected to have been seized by the people in the area, would be retrieved by all means.

Mr. Francis Baidoo, Tufuhene of Nkroful and spokesperson for the people in the area, told this reporter through telephone interaction that management of ARL had not met with the people of Anwia, Teleku Bokazo and Nkroful to discuss any concrete issues regarding the presence of the company in the area.

He added that some senior staff members of the company only told them that government had granted them the licence to do prospecting which would lead to surface mining. He stressed that the people had vowed not to allow that form of activity to go on there.

At a recent meeting with the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Nzema East recently, Hon. Joshua Kwajah-Ellimah told the people of Nkroful that if they did not subscribe to surface mining, they could go to court to place an injunction on the activities of ARL.

Mr. Baidoo mentioned that the DCE and the mining company wanted to use the police and military to scare them so that ARL could undertake it activities, but the people of the communities made it clear that even if the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah resurrected, they would never give in to surface mining unless all of them were killed.

He contended that the people in the area had over the past three months not been going to their farms which are near the areas where ARL was prospecting because of armed police presence and unnecessary warning shots.

"The old days of military rule and excesses are gone and we don't think in such a democratic dispensation and rule of law, chiefs and people on their own land should be forced to accept surface mining when the want underground mining," the chief noted.

At Anwia, Mr. Jacob Nyame, an executive member of the Youth and Concerned Citizens Association, confirmed Mr. Baidoo's story and added that two big trucks of policemen armed to the teeth were brought to Anwia at the dawn of Monday, October 1, and seized the "local FM" equipment in the town by breaking into the house of the owner.

He maintained that the police further beat young men in the town indiscriminately with the butt of their guns without any provocation.

DAILY GUIDE's independent investigations had it that the two policemen escorted the heavy-duty equipment to the prospecting site secretly on Sunday afternoon because the people of Anwia and Teleku Bokazo had already served notice to the mining company not to send any equipment there.

Some young men who happened to see the equipment being transported to the site caused the "local FM" (a sort of loud-speakers and microphone for announcements and music) to announce that ARL had secretly brought some equipment to the site.

The people then moved in a group to the prospecting site to tell the driver to carry the equipment away, but the two policemen, on seeing the mob, started firing warning shots.

The people were not deterred and kept advancing which made the police fire three more times directly on a 60-year-old man, Kwesi Kutua, but the bullets could not penetrate his body.

The other stray bullets from the rifles of the police then found their way on the left leg, forehead and back of five people from Anwia and Teleku Bokazo.

Seeing that most of the people were fortified with bullets, the two policemen, scared and confused, had no alternative than to run into a nearby bush.

When the DCE of Nzema East was contacted, he said the people had been told several times that ARL had licence to prospect for gold, but they would not believe it.

He admitted that the people of the three communities had actually expressed their sentiments against surface mining because of its numerous adverse effects.

He advised the people to ensure that the issue was resolved through dialogue, and regretted that some elderly people, who should offer meaningful and alternative suggestions to resolving the problem, were rather inciting the youth.

From Sam Mark Essien, T'di