By: Opanyin Yaw Baah
The above vocabulary is a Yuroba word derived from Islam, meaning patience is profitable. “Suru” means patience and “Lere” is profitable.
The recent national crusade embarked upon by the government of the New Patriotic Party, under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to uproot illegal mining, popularly called galamsey, is a laudable one.
As a nation, we are conscious of the national tragedy arising out of this nefarious activities by both nationals and foreigners.
This noble cause of the government has received overwhelming local and international support, as well as commendation.
The Missions of United States and The Netherlands are giving massive support for this exercise whiles some identifiable local bodies like the media, OccupyGhana, Muslim groups, the Christian Council and the clergy, as well as some chiefs, are also contributing their quota.
Falling out of this national exercise has been the release of a report by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) whose duty is akin to the FBI and M16 of United States of America and United Kingdom respectively.
A portion of the report which has been sighted by this writer is an alleged role by a powerful paramountcy in promoting the galamsey operations, either tacitly or overtly. And that the said paramountcy is Okyenman (Abuakwa). The report says there is widespread perception that some elements in Ofori Panyin’s Court support galamsey.
That Okyenhene is promoting galamsey activities by setting up a Task Force with the sole mandate of visiting mining sites within the Abuakwa enclave to extort money from illegal operators.
It has never been my hallmark to attack state institutions, especially in the discharge of their mandatory duties. However, I think there are some questions to be answered.
I am not a lawyer or spokesman for Okyenman but nation building globally requires that citizens must always stand up for the truth and condemn half-truths and falsehoods.
How does perception become an evidence? Perception which has been verified and facts established becomes an evidence to warrant prosecution. A classic example is the recent role by Anas and his Tiger Eye which has led to the dismissal and prosecution of some judges and staff of the Judiciary. There had been a long-held perception of corruption in the Judiciary and Anas’s works did establish this fact.
Has this been done by the BNI to warrant such publication? I leave it to Ghanaians as better judges.
The last of my questions bothers on the alleged Task Force. It is on record that Osagyefo Amoatia on his ascension to the Ofori Panyin stool embarked on a crusade to protect the environment, hence he set up the Okyenman Environmental Brigade to compliment the efforts of government. However, owing to the abuses and breaches by some members of the group, Okyenhene disbanded this group about five years ago.
TRADITIONAL RULERS NOT LAW ENFORCERS
Per the 1992 Constitution, though traditional rulers are allodia title holders, and all stool/skin lands are vested in them, where they hold in trust for their subjects, according to Article 267.
However, Article 256(6) vests any mineral in its natural state in or under any land, being public or stool, in the Presidency for and on behalf and in trust for the people of Ghana.
Also, the operations of mining laws and the powers vested in permit holders render traditional rulers powerless in exercising control over lands within their paramountcies. So, how do we fault a traditional ruler of illegal activities by operators in the industry when the law is not on their side?
APOLOGY COMMENDABLE BUT NOT ANTIDOTE
While welcoming the apology by the sector minister, Peter Amewu, for the unfortunate reportage, I also pause to ask, did the BNI envisage the irreparable damage such a report could do to the reputation of Osagyefo Amoatia and Okyenman?
Is BNI aware that the Okyenhene is one of the 10 great leaders of the world championing the cause of greening evolution of the world environment?
How would Prince Charles of Great Britain who is the Chief Patron of World Conservation Group measure Okyenhene?
Is the BNI aware that as a result of this unfair and undesirable reportage, the paramountcies of Offinso, Ejisu and Akropong are up in arms with their senior brother?
THE 1992 CONSTITUTION AND CHIEFTAINCY
The institution of chieftaincy antedates our contact with the European and their governance by over 200 centuries. The institution has been the fountain of knowledge, repository of wisdom, and the pivot, fulcrum and the pedestal on which a nation always rests. Therefore, since time immemorial, governments confronted with national crisis have always relied on them for the required support, hence the 1992 Constitution, by Article 276(1), has put the institution above active politics as a special recognition.
Even in the revolutionary era of the PNDC, where there were excesses, the institution remained intact and was allowed to play its pioneering role.
The law is not a respecter of persons. However, to every law, there is an exception, and in this category falls the institution of chieftaincy. We are not advocating that chiefs, when found culpable, should be treated with kids’ gloves. However, matters concerning the institution should be treated with some modicum of caution in view of the sensitive it occupies in our governance structure.
Owing to the consistent role of the paramountcy in charting the constitutional course of this country, and the international prominence that exceptional leadership gained, the Okyenhene was knighted as far back as 1928 by the King of United Kingdom.
Arbitrariness, which has become the dessert of the BNI where citizenry rights are easily trampled upon and judicial decisions of courts of competent jurisdictions being reversed, can no longer be tolerated under the watchful eyes a constitutional leader like Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
To Osagyefo Amoatia, all that I can say is that such unfortunate reportage is painful but not harmful. I therefore urge you to take consolation in the Akan saying that “akoko tia ba, na onkum ba”, to wit, a mother always remains a mother.
The writer is a former MP for Kumawu and a fellow of the Danquah Institute