President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been entreated to immediately withdraw the military personnel in the Wa East District who are allegedly protecting the interest of Azumah Resources Limited, a gold prospecting company in the Upper West Region.
The appeal was made at a news conference in Wa organized by the chiefs, land-owners and people of Wa East.
They also called on Azumah Resources “to vacate all the mining areas in the Wa East they have “usurped””and “captured”, with the support of the military and give those lands back to the people before the situation becomes something else”.
Among the dignitaries at the event were the Wa Naa, Naa Fusieni Seidu Pelpuo, the Bugubelle Naa, Naa Abudu Darimani and the Kperisi Naa, Naa Seidu Kuulungu.
Making the appeal which was also directed at other stakeholders including the parliamentary caucus of the Upper West Region to also add the voice for speedy withdrawal of the soldiers, the Chief of Dussie, Naa Djongare Mahama who addressed the news conference said “it is very sad to relate that the chiefs and people of the Wa East District are under constant siege and rampant attack by the military Azumah Resource has stationed in the Wa East area.
He said: “Instead of the military stationed in the region to promote peace and stability in the region, they are unleashing violence and mayhem to [on] the chiefs and people of the Wa East area in the name of so called protection of the environment but in reality they are protecting the interest of Azumah Resources, a foreign company illegally operating in the Wa East”.
According to the Chief:, “For some time now, the action of the military in the Wa East district of the Upper West Region has left sour taste in the mouths of the residents there. …..They are under the brutalities of soldiers as no one person in the area can venture to go to their farms anymore especially in the impending farming season”.
Naa Djongare Mahama indicated that the presence of the military in the area has left many families who are mainly farmers and small scale miners scattered due fear and panic related to the activities of the military operating under what he termed “the sponsorship of Azumah Resources [Limited].”
The Dussie Naa alleged that Azumah Resources has been operating in Upper West since 1993 with what he described as a very doubtful and spurious license.
“Azumah Resources’ concessions have in recent times come under serious doubt as they are operating in the region with impunity”, he pointed out.
“The original license of Azumah Resource gave them the permission to be operating at Charikpong in the Nadowli-Kaleo Wistrict, Wa West and Nandom and nothing more”, he said.
Naa Mahama was not happy about the silence of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), noting that “One would have thought that the RCC would have called these soldiers to order, who are on the loose and are being sponsored by a foreign company like Azumah, to visit mayhem on the people of Ghana”.
The chiefs and people of Wa East stressed that they are not against the military. This was how the sentiment was conveyed: “We are not against the military, they are here to protect our interest plus Azumah Resources’ interest, but it seems they are biased on one way issue, protecting only Azumah’s interest.”
Naa Djongare Mahama emphasized that the choice of news conference was to avoid open confrontation with Azumah Resources and the military.
Story and pictures by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo