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30.06.2004 Business & Finance

Adum Banso elders against sale of BOPP shares

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Adum Banso (W/R), June 30, GNA - The Royal Anarfo Agona Elders and the entire Adum Banso community have called for the suspension of the sale of 40 percent of government shares in the Bonsu Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP), saying it was illegal and against the Constitution. Speaking at a press conference at Adum Banso in the Mpohor Wassa East District Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Tony Nyame, Secretary to the community, said on September 23, 1976, the Supreme Military Council (SMC) divested the prime agricultural land cover of 16,760,000 acres under an Executive Instrument (EI) 121/76.

He said the EI was later amended by another EI 65/76 under the State Lands Act of 1977 (Act 125) without any compensation paid for neither the land, settlement nor economic trees and crops destroyed. He said the land was used as the sole equity to partner Unilever to form BOPP.

Mr Nyame expressed regret that since then, subsequent governments have not paid outstanding compensation to the chiefs and people of the community, although the roads, schools and other infrastructure in the area continued to deteriorate.

He said the government's decision to divest 40 percent it was holding in trust for the people on the Stock Exchange without consulting the landowners was a deliberate act to trample on the rights of the people and violate the spirit of the Constitution, as well as natural justice.

Mr Nyame recalled the mode of acquisition of the community's tracts of land, saying it brought untold hardship on the people, with many becoming landless, destitute and dying at tender ages. He said efforts by the community between 2000 and 2003 through their Member of Parliament to seek redress did not yield any positive results.

He, therefore, urged the government to either return the land to its original owners or make them shareholders of the Company, since it has lost interest in the partnership with Unilever.

Mr William Acquah, Regent of the town, said "the community will use all available means to defend its property rights" should the government fail to act.

He called on the government to allocate 20 percent of existing shares to the community to enable it benefit from the operations of BOPP.