Nana Tutu Mensah II, Chief of Yawkrom in the Dormaa Municipality, has accused officials of Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) at Gonokrom, a border town in the Brong-Ahafo Region, of not doing much to halt smuggling activities in the area.
The Chief, alleged that he arrested a truck loaded with teak trees on Wednesday March 11, 2009, suspected to have been stolen from the concession of Oti Yeboah Company Limited, a renowned timber firm in Sunyani.
According to Nana Tutu Mensah, who was narrating the incident to the members of the Brong-Ahafo Regional Security Council (REGSEC), headed by the Regional Minister, Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo, he saw the men packing the logs of teak into the truck on the said land, and trailed them till they reached Oseikrom, where they were arrested and handed over to the police.
He stated that the men, when arrested, claimed that the trees were from Cote d'Ivoire on transit through Yawkrom, and presented a document signed by one, Mr. Affotey Adjin of CEPS to authenticate that the trees were really from Cote d'Ivoire.
The Regional CEPS Commander, Mr. Samuel Tetteh-Quarshie, called the officer in charge of the Gonokrom border, F. A.Yankey, for verification on the matter.
According to Mr. Yankey, the trees were from Cote d'Ivoire, but the owners were Ghanaians who are legally allowed to import teak trees from across the border, after fulfilling all the necessary requirements.
He stated that it was true that Oti Yeboah Company Limited was given a concession on the Ghana line, along the border, to cut all the teak trees which he has done, but was yet to transport them from the land.
Mr. Yankey said Oti Yeboah, being a recognised company, had been given a mark and a number by the Forestry Commission to inscribe on all trees belonging to it for easy identification, without any conflict from any quarters.
He continued that the trees, which the chief claimed belongs to the Oti Yeboah Company Limited, have neither the mark nor the number given to the company by the forestry Commission on them, therefore it was very strange for any one to detain the trees.
The CEPS officer at Gonokrom affirmed that the men had all the necessary documents covering the said trees, so it was unfortunate for the Chief to refer to them as thieves.
However, Nana Tutu Mensah insisted that he saw the men loading the trees into the truck on his, land but the CEPS officials were trying to twist events for their own gains, which according to him, was not good for the development of the country.
The Chief appealed to the Regional Minister to ensure that justice was done on the matter, since the act of stealing and smuggling of trees was common at the border.
The Minister pleaded with the parties involved to exercise patience for the police to conduct thorough investigations into the matter, since the case was already under investigation.