Newmont Justifies Arrest of Poor Farmers
…After Causing Destruction To Their Farmlands
Giant mining firm, Newmont Africa, has justified the arrest and detention of some helpless farmers in Terchire in the Tano North district of the Ahafo Region, whose only crime was resisting the continuous destruction of their livelihoods by the company.
The farmers whose names were given as Silas Adjei Mensah, Beatrice Mensah, John Mensah and Paul Yaw Asare were arrested on Wednesday, September 6, at 12:30pm by the Tano North District Police, allegedly locked up in police cells and subsequently dragged to court for prosecution.
The arrest has been condemned by some civil society organizations (CSOs), including A Rocha Ghana, the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, the Centre for Public Interest Law and the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), who claim the mining firm is notorious for disregarding concerns of farmers whose farms are affected by their operations.
But Newmont Africa is hitting back, denying any wrongdoing on their part.
According to the company, the farmers were arrested for trespassing on its land, attacking its workers and causing destruction to their vehicle.
It said the farmers had caused impediment to a land it had acquired and paid compensation for a project.
But the farmers maintain that no compensation has been paid for the land, while Newmont also insists it has.
In a statement issued yesterday, Wednesday, September 13, sighted by The Anchor, the company said, “Newmont Africa has noted with concern, media publications alleging connivance with the police to arrest some members of the Concerned Farmers Association in its Ahafo North Project’s mining area.”
It continued, “In compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, Newmont has accessed over 98% of land required to begin construction of the Project. About 2,500 farmers and landowners have been compensated, following negotiations and agreements with the Resettlement and Crop Rate Negotiation Committees, jointly constituted by impacted farmers, property owners, traditional leaders, as well as community and government representatives.”
But the affected farmers, who are members of the Concerned Farmers Association of Terchire, Adrobaa, Susuanso and Afrisipakrom, are telling a different story.
The group, in a statement to defend its members, said the farmers were on their way to their farms when they noticed that a farm belonging to the chairman of the association, John Mensah, was being destroyed by assigns of Newmont.
The statement noted that, in their quest to stop the destruction, the farmers were arrested for obstructing the work of Newmont.
“In the act of protecting Mr. Mensah’s farm from destruction, the farmers were arrested on the farm by the Tano North District Police,” the statement disclosed.
It further said before the arrest of the four, three other farmers, Yaw Adu, John Mensah and Emmanuel Kwame Marfo, were earlier arrested in a similar fashion by the same police.
The statement expatiated that John Mensah, Yaw Adu and Emmanuel Kwame Marfo were arraigned before the Circuit Court in Duayaw Nkwanta on Monday, September 4, 2023.
“The Court admitted the farmers to bail pending the final determination of the trial,” it said.
But The Anchor gathered that, the latest arrest of the four farmers was based on a complaint lodged by Newmont, alleging that the farmers had trespassed on its concession and destroyed its property.