Storms Church And Arrests Pastor
Three months after his blatant show of power by seizing heavy duty equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners (E&P) and stopping bauxite mining at Nyinahin in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region, the Ashanti Regional Minister, has once again shown why he is the definition of law and order in the region.
Simon Osei Mensah, last Saturday morning, stormed the House of Bethel Ministry’s Watch Night Service with heavily armed police officers, and ordered its Head Pastor’s arrest, claiming that the church was making ‘too much noise’ and disturbing his sleep.
Interestingly, officials of the church, have disclosed that during the search for political power, he was a frequent worshipper in the same church.
Police at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), have since granted bail to the Church’s Head Pastor, Reverend Kwame Takyi, after he spent some hours behind bar.
The police picked up Rev. Takyi, and detained him at the KNUST police station, after seizing the church’s sound equipment.
Mr. Osei Mensah, stormed the church building with armed Police officers at Anwomaso-High Tension, a suburb in Kumasi, and ordered them to halt an ongoing Watch Night Service, because of the noise.
The church members, said the Minister’s “Rambo Style” was unfortunate, as they rather expected him to engage the leadership of the church on the issue.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, who lives close to the church, had stormed the premises around 12:30 am, to warn the congregation for the first time, and later came in with the police officers at about 2:00am, to order the arrest of the head pastor.
The Secretary of the House of Bethel Ministry, Stephen Osei, narrating the incident to Citi News said “The regional Minister came to our church and he said we were making noise as it was time for him to sleep. He entered there and told us to stop the noise. Our pastors wanted to speak to him but he wasn’t ready to speak to our pastors.”
Mr. Osei, also said the Regional Minster used “all sort of abusive words” against them.
The church’s Secretary, also suggested that the police carried out the arrest unwillingly.
“At a point, the police felt the noise that was going on wasn’t something that could disrupt the place because it is a programme we do every last Friday of the Month. He [the Regional Minister] has always been here with us and this time, we felt surprised this thing was going on.”
Citi news reports that, their attempts to reach the Regional Minister, have been unsuccessful, adding although there are by-laws on noise making, they are mostly not enforced.
In August, this year, Simon Osei-Mensah seized heavy duty equipment belonging to E&P, saying he will only release the equipment if the company belonging to Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former President John Mahama, is able to provide him with documents granting the company permission to work at a bauxite concession at Nyinahim.
What clearly looked like a political victimization was hidden behind the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council, as part of its clampdown on illegal mining.
Ahead of seizure of the heavy duty equipment, the Mineral Commission and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had granted permission to Exton Cubic Group Limited to go and prospect bauxite in the area.
E&P, were consequently contracted by Exton Cubic to assist with its mining equipment.
It was while on its way that, Simon Osei-Mensah, seized the equipment and despite demonstration by the youth of the town and press conference by the Chiefs and elders of the area, he refused to release the equipment and allow Exton Cubic Group Limited to work.
Exton Cubic Group Limited, was granted mining leases to mine bauxite. The company then outsourced the prospecting of the site to Mr. Mahama’s company, but the Regional Minister, prevented the drivers of the vehicles from entering the area. An ambulance for the district hospital was also denied entry to the town.
Speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme, Mr. Osei-Mensah, boasted that he seized the vehicles, because they did not have any permit to operate on the concession.
Although, he was told by the Minister of Lands and Water Resources, John Peter Amewu and the Forestry Commission that Exton Cubic had met all the legal requirements, he said he was yet to see documents to that effect.
“I don’t work with verbal communications, I need documents and until then, I will not release the machines,” he stressed.
“I want to get the documents, commit the Lands Minister so that if something happens, he [Amewu] will be blamed,” he added.
He also claimed that such permission being given to mining companies would affect the fight against illegal mining launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
In a rebuttal, Communications Director of E&P, Mr. Samuel Genfi expressed shock at the conduct of the Ashanti Regional Minister.
He explained that, they have satisfied all requirements backed by law since May 13, 2013, thus Mr. Osei-Mensah, cannot claim not to know anything about it.
“There is no justifiable cause to detain those machines. The vehicles have been detained without any lawful reason,” he added.
The Minister of Lands and Water Resources, later caved in and cancelled all the agreement with Exton Cubic. The company, has since filed a suit against the Akufo-Addo government over the matter.
The equipment are still in his custody, accruing charges which are going to be slapped on the state.