The Concerned Farmers Association of Ahafo North has condemned threats by the Coalition of Ahafo North Youth together with some chiefs, assembly members in the Tano North Municipality, Ahafo Region against Wacam, and its lawyers, Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL).
“We wish to condemn the threats issued by the Coalition of Ahafo North Youth against Wacam in the Press Conference of 5th February, 2023, at Afirisipakrom as unlawful and a violation of our right to seek legal support from organisations such as Wacam and their lawyers, the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) because Wacam has been operating as a lawful NGO in Ghana which has been using legal and rights-based methods to undertake mining advocacy to protect the environment and the rights of poor people living in mining communities for over two decades,” the Concerned Farmers Association of Ahafo North wrote in a statement signed by their members and issued on Friday, February 10, 2023.
The farmers said it was sad for some of their chiefs and youth associations in the municipality to take such a stance, and pretend to be oblivious of the “attacks and pain” they have suffered from Newmont Ahafo Mine.
Such attacks, the statement said, have included Newmont’s use of the police and individuals including those leading members of the youth associations to turn their attacks on Wacam “simply because Wacam is providing us with free legal support through its lawyers, CEPIL.”
In this regard, the statement asserted that the threats by the Coalition of Youth associations and their allies were “unlawful and a violation of their right to seek legal support from Wacam and their lawyers, CEPIL.
“We are disappointed that instead of using their powerful voices to protect the environment, our lands, rivers and properties for the sake of future generations, the attacks on Wacam by the Coalition of Ahafo North Youth Associations are aimed at preventing us from having legal support to protect our rights and properties,” the statement lamented.
Wacam, the statement said, has been engaging state officials by sharing their rich experiences on mining related issues with government, and also serving on committees to improve the regulatory framework of Ghana and in the West African sub-region.
On Newmont, the farmers charged the mining company to disassociate themselves from the “dangerous threats” by the Ahafo North Youth Association against Wacam.
“If Newmont does not denounce the threats against Wacam publicly, it will be established that Newmont Ahafo Mine is using some people in the communities to achieve its purpose of threatening Wacam to stop Wacam from playing its advocacy and legal role of protecting the rights of poor people like us,” the farmers cautioned.
“It is sad that we the affected poor farmers are being made to feel as if we are orphans and the energies of people who are expected to protect us are being used to increase the power of the already powerful Newmont Ahafo Mine.
“In conclusion, we want to state that we have never disrespected Nananom [Chiefs]. All that we are doing is to protect our right to prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation which is a right enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Minerals and Mining Act of Ghana. Our expectation is that all peace-loving people of Ghana will support our course for the protection of the rights of poor farmers like us,” the statement underscored.
It would be recalled that a meeting organised by the Ahafo Regional Minister was held on 26th January, 2023, at Tyco City Hotel in Sunyani. This meeting brought together the affected farmers of Ahafo North, Yamfo, Terchire, Afrisipakrom, Susuanso and Adrobaa, Chiefs of the five Ahafo Communities, the Ahafo Regional Minister, Municipal Chief Executive of Tano North Municipality and representatives of Newmont Ahafo Mine on the intended mining operations of Newmont Ahafo Mine which will affect farms and livelihoods.
At the said meeting, it was proposed that the chiefs should be mandated to represent the farmers affected by the mining operations of Newmont in negotiating compensation on their properties with Newmont Ahafo Mine on their behalf, a proposal the farmers turned down.
The farmers’ reason was that they have the right to negotiate compensation for their properties.
According to the Minerals and Mining Resettlement, Regulations 2012, L.I, 2175, the affected farmers have the right to nominate their own experts or lawyers to support them in negotiations with the mining company because the law realises the gap between financial and technical power between the mining giants and the poor farmers.
On the basis of the mining laws of Ghana, the concerned farmers engaged Wacam and its lawyers, CEPIL to support them in their negotiations with Newmont Ahafo Mine to demonstrate their determination to use legal means to protect their properties including land, crops and buildings.
Sadly, that exercise of their legal right under the mining laws of Ghana has been met with attacks on Wacam by some chiefs and youth associations in the Ahafo North area.
And there is enough evidence to support the fact that people leading such vile campaign against the affected farmers and Wacam are known agents of Newmont Ahafo Mine.
For example, on 5th February, 2023, Mr Thomas Ofoso Boateng, who is the Chairman of the Adrobaa Youth Association and a Leader of the Press Conference that attacked the affected farmers and Wacam was one of the people hired by Newmont Ahafo Mine to destroy our properties.
Consequently, when the farmers instituted legal action against Newmont Ahafo Mine for the destruction of their properties in court, Newmont Ahafo Mine said in open court that the company did not mandate those who destroyed their farms and buildings to undertake the destruction of their properties but pushed the blame on the Municipal Chief Executive of Tano North Municipality, chiefs and the leaders of the youth association.