General News of Friday, 12 April 2013
Source: Daily Guide
OVer 500 people at Dokokyina-Nsuoano, a fishing community at the Bui Dam area in the Banda District of the Brong Ahafo Region have been rendered homeless as officials of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission on Tuesday allegedly carried out an arson attack to wipe out the entire village.
During the raid, a total of 150 houses were burnt to ashes by the gun-wielding wildlife officials numbering about 30 amidst firing of warning shots to warn-off the victims from coming close to the scene.
Residents of the island village told DAILY GUIDE that the incident happened on Tuesday morning between 11:00am and 12noon at the time all the men had gone out for fishing on the Black Volta leaving only the women and children at home.
DAILY GUIDE further learnt that eight kids between the ages of 7 and 9 have gone missing in the incident. Some of the kids were believed to have dropped into the Black Volta, while others were said to have entered into the Bui National Park (a deep forest) in the midst of the gun-shots for cover.
Some parents however believed their kids might have been burnt along with their belongings by the Wildlife officials.
Adjani Yaw Moses alias Moseko, one of the affected persons and spokesman for the victims, disclosed that they went for fishing and heard the gunshot sounds. He said they only returned home to see all their houses set ablaze by the Wildlife officials who were firing sporadically to scare off the residents.
According to him, residents have lost all that they had toiled for over the years including huge sums of monies being the capitals and monies they had realised from their fishing activities.
He said some farmers lost as much as GH¢4,000, with others loosing GH¢2,000 in the arson attack. Reports are that one middle-aged man who happened to be at home at the time of the incident was beaten to pulp for attempting to resist the taskforce from carrying out their intended action.
During the attack, the taskforce also ceased the fishing implements of the fishermen including outboard motors and canoes.
Mr. Adjani revealed that the victims have since been on empty stomach because they had no money to buy food whilst their foodstuffs had all been burnt.
He expressed grave surprised about the action of the Wildlife officials since nobody had ever come around to instruct them to leave the place. He explained that the said land they were occupying was given to them by the chief of Dokokyina.
The Chief of Dokokyina, Nana Edward Kwadwo Kuma Domaka, was dumbfounded by the action of the Games and Wildlife.
He hinted DAILY GUIDE that he gave that portion of the land along the Black Volta to the settlers.
According to the chief, the Games and Wildlife department has made several attempts to forcibly take the land from the people of Dokokyina which they have resisted and the case is currently pending before the High Court in Sunyani.
He said the High Court has restrained the Wildlife people from entering the land until the final determination of the case.
Nana Kuma Domaka therefore wondered why the government agency has defied the orders of the court by taking the law into their own hands to act so callously.
The chief indicated that he has provided temporal accommodation for a section of the victims at the Dokokyina Township and wanted the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to quickly come to the aid of the victims since they have no food to eat and no place to lay their heads after losing all their possessions in the arson attack.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Banda, Alex Bonsu, explained that the officials of Wildlife informed him that the exercise was aimed at re-possessing their encroached land by the settlers.
He pointed out that wildlife officials told him that ejection exercise was peaceful as they only seized six canoes and outboard motors of the victims. He however said the wildlife officials did not tell him whether they set the houses of the victims on fire.
The DCE indicated that the taskforce did not carry out the exercise at Old Dokokyina because the land is under a dispute at the High Court.
According to the DCE, he has not personally met the victims because he was not around during the incident, whilst the victims have also failed to report the incident to the police in the district and the district assembly.
He promised to send officials to the village to assess the impact of the incident.