The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) report suggesting that elements within Ofori Panin Fie, the Okyenhene’s palace, are involved in illegal small-scale mining, are “unfortunate” given the national security agency made the conclusion based on “perception” and “rumours”, E.M Ofori-Atta, Secretary to the Akyem Abuakwa Council, has said.
A leaked BNI report has named and shamed some traditional authorities for their involvement in illegal small-scale mining (galamsey) in the country. It comes as the Akufo-Addo government launches an onslaught on the activity in response to calls by Ghanaians for national action on the menace and save the country’s lands and water bodies.
Although the BNI report did not explicitly state that the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, was involved in illegal mining, it said some individuals, forming the Okyenhene task force, were going round galamsey sites extorting cash from such miners in the name of the Okyenhene.
But reacting to the report on Accra100.5FM’s morning show, Ghana Yensom, Mr Ofori-Atta expressed the council’s disappointment with the aspect of the BNI’s report on the Okyenhene.
“We are disappointed that such a report will emerge from the BNI when its investigations did not seek the views of those from Ofori Panin Fie,” he told show host Chief Jerry Forson. “The report states that there is widespread perception that some elements at the Ofori Panin Palace are engaged in galamsey. The second aspect concerning the Ofori Panin Fie said there is the Okyenhene task force that goes to galamsey areas to extort money from galamseyers.
“We are disappointed a national intelligence agency in Ghana such as the BNI will make investigations and draw conclusions against a stool as important as the Ofori Panin stool on the basis of rumour and perception, and not bothering to hear from those against whom the conclusions have been made. Is perception what we work with in Ghana now?”
He said with other personalities mentioned in the report, the BNI gave definitive, conclusive evidence and facts “that these individuals are indeed engaged in galamsey”, adding: “But with the Okyenhene and Ofori Panin Stool, it said there was perception and rumour. …That is the first aspect of the report we disagree with.”
Mr Ofori-Atta also rejected allegations of a taskforce collecting monies from illegal miners, saying the Okyenhene was a “world-famous environmentalist” who in 2003 launched a campaign against chainsaw operators in the Akyem Abuakwa area in the face of massive deforestation there and could not be said to want to profit from an environmentally destructive activity like galamsey.
He explained further that only two months ago the divisional police commander for Kyebi arrested some persons and had written to the Okyenhene wanting to know if those persons, parading as Okyeman task force and demanding money from illegal miners in the area, had indeed been sent from Ofori Panin Fie. According to him, they wrote back to the police that as far as they were concerned, there was no such “creature, body or committee” from the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council.
“So we have been taken aback that the BNI commissions such a report on the basis of perception, thereby desecrating the Ofori Panin Stool,” he noted.
He wondered why the Okyenhene, who owns “two-thirds” of Eastern Region lands, wanting to profit from mining, would not go to the Minerals Commission for a “proper mining licence” to undertake such activity.
“If you live in Ghana and reason that the Okyenhene is engaged in the filthiest and basest form of mining, then you are insane,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.