Interestingly, the journalists saw how the illegal miners are indiscriminately working under the jurisdiction of the Gwira Banso chief who was spotted in a video at the current funeral ground held in Gwira inciting the youths to rise against Okoben Mining Company Limited, accusing the company of engaging in responsible mining activities.
However, in a fact finding mission to Gwira Banso on Thursday February 16,:2023, these illegal miners have been spotted using the Changfan machines and other heavy mining equipment to engage in illegal small scale mining activities on river Akonbra at Gwira Banso.
The investigation further indicate that these illegal miners used excavator to mine on the land of Gwira Banso and destroyed water bodies of river Akonbra, forest range reserves and environment on the blind side of Nana Ette Akrade II and the military task force [Operation Halt II team] against galamsey in water bodies.
The findings also discovered that persons who indulge in small scale illegal mining in Gwira Banso do not only operate during the days, but also at nights and that these illegal practices of the miners were not an open secret to the chief and elders who are custodial owners of Gwria Banso land.
However, the heartbreaking situation has informed the decision of concerned citizens of Gwira Banso and Tufuhene of Assuawuah in Gwira Traditional Area to call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to, immediately deploy the military task force to arrest the illegal miners who are working on water bodies of the River Akonbra.
Speaking in an interview with journalists, Nana Addae Blay V stated that it is a high time President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to continue to pay serious attention to the continuous destruction of the water bodies and environment by these illegal miners in Banso enclaves of Gwira Traditional Area.
According to him, instead of the Nana Ette Akrade II to come out publicly to call for the support of the government to fight the menace at his backyard/community, he [Nana Ette Akrade II] chooses to join the Paramount Chief of Gwira, Awulae Angama Tu-Agyan II and Chief of Gwira Abelebu, Nana Dominle Mieza II including other chiefs to attack the Managing Director (MD) of Okoben Mining Mining Company Limited, Nana Okoben Amponsah who is rather doing responsible mining on his legally and lawfully acquired gold mining concession at Dominase in Gwira.
Mincing no words, Nana Addae Blay V pointed out that it was not true that the gold mining activities of Okoben have destroyed river Akonbra, explaining that the company's gold mining concession is 700 metres away from river Akonbra.
The chief pointed out that he thought that these chiefs who were destroying the name of Okoben would rather support the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in flushing out these illegal foreign nationals who had invaded the communities such Sefwi Asawinso, Diaso, Wassa Jokwaa, Wassa Akropong, Hiawa Bekwai, Prestea, Pepoase, Gwira Wiaso Gwira Tumantu,Gwira Banso.
These communities, the Tufahene noted are the source of the river Akonbra, explaining that the illegal mining activities of the these illegal Chinese galamseyers from these above mentioned communities have also polluted the River Akonbra but not the activities of the Okoben Mining Company Limited, saying the company is committed to responsible mining.
He maintained that Nana Okoben Amponsah's company is rather protecting that stretch of the lands for the people in Gwira from invasion of the illegal miners who are from Mali, Niger, China and Ghana.
According to him, the various accusations levelled against the company by these chiefs were because they connived with some top politicians in the Western Region to take over the legal and genuinely acquired concession at Dominase in Gwira to give out to the illegal foreign nationals (Chinese illegal miners) to mine gold resources.
He stressed that the public announcement by these chiefs claiming that they were attacking Nana Okoben Amponsah because they were helping the government to fight against illegal mining activities in the district is completely lies and libelous stories being cooked by these chiefs to score their points.
The Tufahene noted that there were pieces of envidence which attests to the fact that these chiefs had exhibited these evil plots against the company because they want the government to revoke the licence(s) from the Okoben Mining Company Limited.
He maintained that they suspected that Nana Okoben Amponsah has become an enemy and target of these chiefs of Gwira because they planned to take over his concession to give out to illegal foreign nationals Chinese miners to mine to share the profits.
He pointed that a video has showed how the Chief of Banso in Gwira, Nana Ette Akrade II is endorsing illegal small scale mining activities which have rendered the river Akonbra, entire community, including the Banso’s backyard, deplorable.
"We didn't understand why Nana Ette Akrade II who incited youths against mining company could not used his military position to invite the military task force to arrest these illegal miners on his land.
"We wondered why Nana Ette Akrade II who is noted for supporting galamseyers in Banso could cover up his activities and went ahead to be fighting against the company for doing illegal mining," the chief stated.
The Tufahene pointed out that very soon they are going organize a press conference and demonstration to expose how the chief of Banso endorsing mining activities in his community by way of selling diesel fuel to the illegal miners in Banso illegal miners to power their machines to mine gold illegally in the area.
For their part, the residents in the area accused their chief of allegedly collecting a total of GH¢1000 as Banso community living fee from each of the illegal miners before he would allow them to operate in his community
According to them the chief also charged the illegal small scale miners of 20% on the gold resources mined on his land.
The residents were responding to the current outburst by the aforementioned chiefs who launched physical war against the gold mining company of Nana Okoben Amponsah without any wrong doing.
Speaking further, Nana Addae Blay V pointed out that Nana Okoben Amponsah's company is keen of ensuring that there are toilet facilities, potable drinking water, roads, environmental sanitation, health, education infrastructure, sports for the youths and good welfare services for citizens/residents in Gwira Traditional Area.
"Since Nana Okoben Amponsah has secured his concession at Dominase in Gwira from the traditional authorities and got the necessary legal license (s) from the state mining regulatory institutions including Minerals Commission and Environmental Protection Agency, we, the traditional authorities have been monitoring the gold mining activities of miner.
"...And that we can state without fear that Nana Okoben Amponsah's company has been using legal means to work on its gold concession and put pragmatic and security measures in place to fight galamseyers from destroying the river Akonbra and environment including the forest range reserves, he noted.
He told stated that "if had it not because of Okoben Amponsah who comes to Gwira to secure these tracks of the lands for the gold mining concession, thousands of illegal miners, particularly foreign national ones should have invaded these lands and indiscriminately mine the gold illegally and unlawfully to destroy the lands as at now."
Mincing no words, the chief described as a completely unacceptable and worrying the current habits of these aforementioned chiefs to transport from Gwira to Accra to use various television media platforms and press conferences to launch physical war against the Nana Okoben Amponsah.
"But l am assuring the general public that we the traditional office holders who are strongly backing Nana Okoben Amponsah are not going to allow these chiefs to push their evil agendas," Nana Addae Blay V vowed.
He stressed that looking at the huge contributions being made by Nana Okoben Amponsah by improving social and infrastructure development in Gwira, the well wishing chiefs and citizens of Gwira would be the last persons to sit down idle for those devilish chiefs to sabotage Nana Okoben Amponsah and his company.
He maintained that Nana Okoben Amponsah has showed gross respect to all the traditional office holders, chiefs queen-mothers in Gwira including his host mining communities.
The Tufuhene expressed these foregoing sentiments when he was speaking in an interview with Metro Television in Accra on Sunday February 12, 2023 which was on the topic "No To Galamsey."
Aside this, Nana Addae Blay V, made same statement on an Accra-based Angel TV on Wednesday February 15, 2023 to rubbish the wide spread media reports attributed to these chiefs that the activities of the company has polluted river Akonbra and neglected the chiefs and elders of Gwira of paying royalties.
The statement made by Nana Addae Blay V statements had confirmed the earlier submission made by some of the prominent traditional office holders in Gwira including the Adotenhene of Tumiatu in the Gwira, Nana Kpole Antoanah V, Paramount Queen-mother of Gwira, Nana Adwoa Affiah and the Principal Head of the Amanrakpanyim Family of Gwria, Nana Alumenza lll who had jumped into the defence of the company and said that the gold mining firm has done no wrong.
Nana Addae Blay V said the Minerals Commission of Ghana has also clarified that the Okoben is a responsible mining company which activities has not violated the Minerals and Mining laws and the company respect the water bodies, forest range reserves and environment.
"I wondered why these chiefs were accusing the company of doing galamsey activities but if you come to Gwira Asowa, you would see thousands of illegal Chinese miners who had invaded the area and indiscriminately mining gold resources on the blind side of national security officers and military galamsey taskforce.
On allegations of Okoben's neglecting of the chiefs and elders of Gwira, Nana Addae Blay V debunked the claim.
He noted that the gold company is committed in providing jobs, paying taxes and royalties, sourcing with local businesses, investing in community programmes and infrastructure, and fostering mutually beneficial relationships remain crucial for the company’s long term success and ability to be a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development.
The chief added that the company is also committed to strong and good corporate governance, multi-stakeholder engagement, and transparency around payments to local and central governments in order to increase accountability, develop trust, create mutual value and reduce corruption.
He added that per their records, the company has supported essential government services and programmes, and raise the standard of the people in its host host communities within the Gwira Traditional Area.
The chief disclosed that the company has first built two mechanised boreholes for the Gwira Asowa community, adding that one of the facilities is currently being used by the people in the country.
He noted that the other water facility is in the completing stage, adding that the company classroom building blocks for some schools in Gwira Traditional Area.
He said that the company has assured them that when it finishes the construction of the boreholes, it would start to build 10-seater ultra modern water closet toilet facilities for community, because there were no water closet toilet facility in Gwira Asowa.
"The company is committed in paying its royalists to the traditional authorities in Gwira Traditional Stool including custodial owners of the lands of where its concession was located in the municipality," he stressed.
He revealed that on January 1, 2013, Nana Okoben Amponsah brought his royalties to the Nananom of Gwira Stool.
"Nana Okoben Amponsah as l am talking to you today, he said he brought part of his royalties to the Nananom." These royalists were even being taken by the chief liguists of Akpansie in the private residence of Nana Okoben Amponsah in Tarkwa," the chief disclosed.
"So when l heard that some chiefs came to Nzema FM and Accra to say that Nana Okoben Amponsah's company has destroyed river Akonbra and also failed to honour its agreement to pay royalties to the stool, these allegations came to me as a surprise," Nana Addae Blay V narrated.
According to Nana Addae Blay V, when he was installed in 2017, he challenged the legality of Okoben, saying that when he visited the Tarkwa office of the Minerals Commission to verify whether the company has a legal require license (s) to operate in Gwira, the officials of commission responded to him that they are dealing with the company and that if the company violated its mineral and mining laws it would not be spared.
"We are calling on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NPP government that the evil plots being hatched by these chefs to the effect of accusing the company of engaging in illegal mining activities which they claimed had polluted River Ankobra, streams and other river bodies on its gold concession at Dominase is a complete mischievous and one-sided vicious trial by media.
To this end, the chief reiterated the call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and general public to disregard the claims by Angama Tuagyan and his followers, saying that the traditional authorities of Gwira have not banned the Okoben from mining on its gold mining concession at Dominase.