Regional

Songor Lagoon Chiefs Charges Akufo-Addo To Abrogate Salt Lease To Electrochem

The Chiefs and people of Toflokpo, Salom, Bornikopey and surrounding communities in the Ada area of the Greater Accra region, are determined not to relinquish their main source of livelihood that is the Songor lagoon to Electrochem Gh.Ltd.

This is in view of a lease agreement that was signed between the government and Electrochem Gh. Ltd to enable the company mine salt on a 39, 000 acres of land at Songor lagoon at Ada and it’s surrounding communities for 15 years.

The ensuing disagreement over the large acres of land granted to the company, has already resulted in the shooting and brutalisation of 15 indigenes at Madegbe, a community around the Songor.

Last month, some unknown persons who were in the company of the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Ada West, shot and wounded some youth in the community over claims that they were behind disturbances over the Songor salt takeover.

Among the wounded was a 15 year old girl, who was hit by a stray bullet, while standing in front of her house.

Stressing and expressing its latest concerns at a press conference in Ada, the custodian of the Songor lagoon, Numo Amate Apedo Ayornu, said that although Electrochem Ghana Limited failed to consult the true owners of the lagoon and were granted 12, 428 acres of land, the company has, however, acquired 39,000 acres of land fraudulently, far exceeding what was granted to the company by the government .

Explaining how the company allegedly exceeded the land space of 12, 428, it was initiated given under the agreement to 39,000 acres , Numo Apedo Ayornu, said Electrochem succeeded in acquiring the extra land with the promise of building palaces for the chiefs which was in connivance with the Ada paramountcy ‘describing the chiefs who signed the agreement as gullible, shortsighted without the legal standing to lease the Songor lagoon and surrounding communities to any investor without the consent of the communities along the Songor especially the libiwornor who is the custodian of the lagoon.

“My people would have to survive, this is where they get their daily bread.They have been denied their livelihoods We would therefore do everything legitimately possible to reverse this deal,” he vehemently complained.

He added “the traditional council has no legal standing to deal with any property belonging to the Tekpebiawe clan. They have fraudulently allowed McDan and his company Electrochem to encroach on our lands”

He further bemoaned how the government, would sit aloof for his people to be shot in an attempt to protect what rightfully belongs them.

“How in the early hours of a fine day, the police, Ada West DCE and McDan’s agents could invade our peaceful villages, Toflokpo-Salom, Toflokpo Madagbe, Osoyaa and Bonikope with guns and other offensive weapons to brutalised us, oppress, to suppress us is difficult to understand, it seems in the minds of government and McDan we do not exist; the over 100,000 of Adaali- abime living along the Songor lagoon do not exist,” he cried out.

According to him, the protracted troubles which has lasted for over 40 years in attempt by various government and parties to acquire the Songor lagoon and adjoining lands for salt mining and related activities, can only end if the true owners are consulted extensively for their approval.

The salt priest mentioned that in response to a letter dated May 7, 2001 by the then Minister of Mines and Technology, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, requesting for the true owners of the Songor lagoon from the Ada paramountcy, the Paramount Chief of Ada, Nene Abram KabuAkwuako III in a response dated March 28, 2002, stated that the Songor lagoon belongs to the Tekpebiawe clan.

Following from this, however ,the chief asked how anybody, including the Ada traditional council refuse to acknowledge and consult the Libi Wornor, who is the custodian of the Songor lagoon, and a member of the Tekpebiawe clan, as well as communities along the lagoon.

The agreement sighted states “The Memorandum of Agreement between the four land owning clans of Ada and facilitated by the Ada paramountcy and Daniel Mckorley of McDan Group signed at Big Ada, on the 19th of September 2019 states among other things that “the additional adjoining lands in addition to the Songor lagoon shall be leased for a period of fifty years but subject to renewal for additional 25 years or as may be agreed upon by both parties”. The entire state of 10 clans/ tribes shall be beneficiaries to chief palace complex and that the investor shall ensure that offices and conference facilities are made available to each of the clans in the said complex at a location of their choice.

In his estimation, similar lease agreement in the past, failed because of the selfishness of individuals and companies considering the current situation where McDan who is said to have strong political connections in Government want to do.

He added” we fought Appenteng for 20 years; we shall fight McDan until the last of the 100, 000 Adali- Abime living along the Songor lagoon today are killed”.

He also alleged that McDan, has also donated Toyota Hilux pick-ups to some people in the area, bought expensive furniture for some chiefs with hefty cash and has placed these short sighted chiefs on his payrol to achieve his personal interest with total disregard for the larger interest of the communities along the Songor lagoon.

He, therefore, called on the government to abrogate the ElectroChemGh. Ltdagreement for peace to prevail in Ada and implement the master plan which was developed for the interest of all Ada communities for salt development in Ghana.

The stool father for the Tekpebiawe clan, Numo Abledu Tetteh Ayornu, who was as the press conference also reiterated the need for a review of the agreement between ElectroChem and the Ada community if the company is prepared to mine salt in the area, stating that without the express consent of the Libiwornor and affected communities, no individual or private company would be allowed into the area.

The chief of Toflokpo, which is one of the communities along the Songor,NeneMayiru on his part, said the people will do everything possible to stop the company from working on the land, if they fail to follow the due process expected.

Nene DadebormAnim II, Chief of Salom and chief of Bonikopey, Nene Dameh Borni, whose communities are along the lagoon also waged in the matter when they wondered why the police have not instituted any investigations into the matter neither have they visited the victims who were shot since the brouhaha broke out.

This according to them, leaves so much questions to be answered by the DCE for Ada West and the police commander for the area.

According to them, the Minerals Commission, has also refused to respond to several letters written to them to address their concerns in relation to the acquisition of the songor lagoon by ElectroChemGh. Ltd.

On this basis, they also appealed to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to cancel the agreement between the government and the company for lasting peace and also institute investigations into the shooting of their indigineswho are still undergoing treatment.

Source: Patrick Biddah

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