Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin is under intense pressure from the people of Kyekyere, Amanase, and surrounding communities to publicly disown and take steps to disband a group called Okyeman Task Force that is allegedly engaged in land-guarding activities and currently ‘terrorizing’ residents and farmers living in communities along the Akyem Apedwa-Nsawem road.
Speaking to the press after a community gathering to address their concerns, Assembly Member for Kyekyere Electoral Area, Paul Som Abedi called on the paramount Chief of Akyem Abuakwa to publicly disassociate himself from tshe group and make frantic efforts to disband it because of their continued operation in his name is a dent on his image and brings to question his very principles as one of the respected chiefs in Ghana.
He said, “I don’t want to believe that that Okyehene as we have come to know him will reduce himself to this level and allow thugs to torment innocent people on their land in this manner. This is why we are asking him to speak on the matter and take steps to fight the group because they use his name to seek legitimacy and influence.
He also noted that the use of vehicles marked with the emblem of Akyem Abuakwa Paramountcy is more worrying because it gives credence to their claims considering how the okyehene has kept mute and allowed them to flourish for nearly a decade without much effort to disband it.
“I believe that if for nothing at all, Okyehene has a duty to act and protect his name and his office given the illegal use of symbols and logos that should be solely used for official purposes to commit these hideous crimes against defenseless people whose only offense has been to make a living on the lands bequeathed to them by their forefathers who used legitimate means to acquire them”, he added.
He intimated that “there is no way the people of Kyekyere will give up on what is ours because we have been the legal owners of the land since 1875” when our forebearers bought the place from the people of Apedwa and we have documents and rulings to support this”
Anum residents clash with Okyeman Task Force sand weaners
With many acres of farmlands destroyed by activities of sand weaners whose operations are allegedly sanctioned by the Okyeman Task Force, they decided to move to the cemetery area in an attempt to extend their boundaries.
This resulted in a clash with community members that led to the arrest of some of the operators by the Teacher Mantey Police station.
Baffour Atwere Bediako, the Chief of Anum who led the operation is said to have been threatened with harm by the members’ Task Force who were leaving the community minutes before the media encounter and were seen by reporters in their pick with arms.
Speaking to reporters, he also re-echoed the calls for the Okyehene’s intervention because he believed that their alleged affiliation to him helps their illegal course.
I don’t ever want to believe that the Okyehene is behind these disguised land guarding activities, I strongly believe these guys seek legitimacy by the use of his name even though this area is not an Akyem land and so it is important that he takes this up as an attack on his person and a dent on his image as an advocate of proper management of the environment.
According to some of the people affected by their activities, even though the Task Force has been in existence for almost a decade, the past four years have seen them brutalize residents in communities such as Kyekyere, Amanase, Teacher Mantey, Akuffo, Anum, Suhum and several other communities along the Apedwa Nsawem Road like never before.
“We want to plead with President Nana Akufo Addo and the IGP to come to our aid because people are being denied their means of livelihood”
“our land is being destroyed, the Okyeman Task Force and their contractors are destroying our farms, they are giving them out for sand weaners. One protester cried
DCE of Ayensuano District speaks
When the District Chief Executive of Ayensuano, Mrs. Josephine Nkoom was contacted to give her take on the illegal sand weaning in the area, she had this to say; “In the 21st century when the rule of law is expected to be the order of the day, these sand weaners have completely disregarded due process in his pursuit of this evil agenda taking the very livelihood of the people from them.”
She promised to crack down on those at the heart of the activities and ensure that they are used as a scapegoat.
She indicated that the cost of fighting the activities is hurting the Assembly because they have a very narrow revenue base and hence cannot sustain the fight if it is not nipped in the bud.
Isaac Kyei Andoh