BY: Akpabli Daniel Yao I Voltaonlinegh.com |
To get reaction from the Paramountcy on the press release from some 6 Assembly members regarding disbursement of compensation by Seven Seas Salt Company, Voltaonlinegh.com engaged Torgbi Atiane IV, the chief of staff to the paramountcy where he denied all the allegations.
However, further engagement with the Paramount Chief of the area, Torgbi Adamah III said, the statement and the media engagement that by the Assembly Members contained a lot of misinformation, concoctions, half-truth and insinuation that needs to be addressed
He explained, the process that culminated in the disbursement event on February 19, 2021 had been a very long, torturous and eventful one which was initiated by his predecessor Torgbi Hor II.
The Paramountcy recalled that, some lives were lost, others maimed and hospitalized with some properties been lost by the Seven Seas Salt company and individuals.
They stated that, article 267 clause 1 of the Ghanaian constitution explained that, all stool lands in the country are vested in the appropriate stool on behalf of, and trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law usage.
They said, the traditional authority only control natural resources of their area in trust for the people/the Government hence Traditional Authorities do not have the power to sell or lease any natural resources, therefore, the So’me Traditional Authority has not sold or leased the salt lagoon to the Seven Seas Salt Company adding that, it is the government of Ghana that has done so.
They said the payment and disbursement of compensation which has generated the concern raised by the Assembly Members was in accordance with the Mineral commission act 703 of 2006 clause 4 (a) which states that, compensation shall be paid for the depravation of the use or a particular/partial use of the natural surface of the land or part of the land.
The paramountcy being the custodian of the said lands could have decided to take total control of the negotiation with the company and compensation accruing but they felt the need to let the communities bordering the concession also benefit, hence their involvement in the process.
“Owing to the limited time at our disposal before the presentation of the cheques, I had discussions with the chiefs of the communities bordering the concession and came to the decision that a temporal bank account be opened at the Agriculture Development Bank Limited at Denu, and Torgbi Atiane IV, the chief of staff of the Paramountcy shall be a signatory to all the temporary accounts to enable the Paramountcy monitor the initial management of the account”.
He further added that, after the lodgment of the fund in the accounts, three new signatories (two selected by the community and one by the chief) be selected to replace the initial temporal signatories (the chief will not be a signatory to any account), the chief in consultation with the Assembly Members in the various communities shall form a five-member committee including a woman to liaise with a Central Development Committee of the Paramountcy to plan and monitor the use of the fund to the benefit of the communities.
They also discussed that (1) 10% of the compensation due each community shall be given to the chiefs for the upkeep of the stool, a decision supported by the 1992 constitution (Ref: Article 267 (6)), (2)a consultant working on the compensation package shall be paid some money for the preparation of a site plan (a private task for the Consultant aside the major works given him) for each community after the payment of the compensation but no money has been deducted from the compensation to pay for this service and (3) a 300-meter buffer zone allowed by the company shall be used to promote aquaculture in the communities.
They noted that, somewhere during the negotiations, the So’me Traditional Authority in consultation with the Consultant involved the Assembly Member of the concession communities in the discussions since they are representatives of the people but did not want to involve them in the operation of the community account because of several reasons.
They noted some of the reasons are; the Assembly members are not permitted by law to operate or be a signatories to community accounts, some of the Assembly Members are cited to have engaged in fraudulent activities in the management of the resources and funds accruing to the community necessitating huge bailout from the Seven Seas Salt Company and some Assembly Members came have been conniving with the community members to steal the property of the Seven Seas Salt Company.
They noted that, during the negotiation process, the Assembly members come to the paramountcy with a request of 5% of the compensation accruing to each community to be given to each of them but after a consultation with the Chiefs, it was decided that GHC1, 500.00 be given to each of them across board after which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was drawn in respect of the Paramouncy, the Chiefs and the Assembly members relating to the disbursement of the compensation but the Assembly Members declined to sign.
“Later, a community account was opened and the account details forwarded to the Ketu North Municipal Chief Executives to be forwarded to the Seven Seas salt for the writing of the various cheques, however, to our surprise on the day of the presentation of the cheques, we realized the cheques had been written in names unknown to the traditional Authority”
They stated that, their investigations revealed that, the Ketu South Municipal Assembly had written letters authorizing the Assembly members to open community account to which they the Assembly Members, a woman and another community member (representing the Chief) will be signatories and to them, this was done on the blind side of the paramount Chief and other Chiefs even though they were aware an account have been already created for such purpose.
The Paramouncy said, this issue brought a misunderstanding between the chiefs and the Municipal Assembly during the handing over day of the various cheques of the compensation as they noted that, it beats their imagination why the Municipal assembly is trying desperately hard to control funds accruing to the communities as though it is their rights to do so.
In all these, the paramountcy stated that, the Municipal Assembly led by the Chief Executive, Eliot Agbenorwu showed blatant disrespect to the Traditional authority making it to look as if the paramountcy is under their control.