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27.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Farmer petition CHRAJ for harassment

GNA

Techiman (B/A) July 27, GNA - The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is investigating a petition by about 100 farmers at Mankranso forest for alleged harassment, cheating and wanton harvesting of their maize.

The farmers are from Kutiri, Kwameforikrom, Agegeyensu, Nyanatase, Sanasu-Zongo, Asuotem, Tamale and Nimokrom in the Akumadan area, with some from Techiman municipality.

The farmers who besieged the Techiman CHRAJ office led by Alhaji Sulemana Amika said they paid monies ranging from 50,000 to one million cedis per acre of land at the Mankranso forest reserve for the cultivation of maize.

They said they acquired the plots from Mr. Peter Asante, technical officer at Akumadan through the caretaker of the Mankranso forest of the Camba Timber Company Limited, owners of the forest. The farmers alleged that some of them acquired more than 20 acres of the land but Mr. Asante and the caretaker, Mr. Augustine Agyepong after releasing the plots to them later turned round to warn them not to work on the land but did not refund their monies to them.

The farmers said they objected to this new turn of events and went on to prepare their land for cultivation.

They alleged that after planting the maize, Mr. Asante, Mr. Yaw Asare, chairman of the fire volunteer squad, which collected 200,000 cedis from each farmer and prepared the land and Mr. Agyepong destroyed the germinated maize but they replanted the maize. When the maize was ready to be harvested, the farmers alleged that Mr. Asante and his men harvested all the maize and sent it to an unknown destination.

When newsmen visited some of their farms, all the maize had been harvested and taken away. The Odikro of Nyanatase, Nana Kwame Antwi, corroborated the farmers' story, saying he had been reliably informed that the maize harvested which belonged to the affected farmers had been taken away. When contacted Mr. Agyepong admitted that he took those monies from the farmers to the technical officer but denied his involvement in the harvesting of the maize. Mr. Kwasi Asante-Boateng, Techiman Municipal director of CHRAJ told newsmen, the Commission had invited the parties to ascertain the truth in the allegations.

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