Cosmos Sarpong, spokesperson of the group
Residents of Nkonya, led by the youth of the area, have carried out their promise to hold a news conference as an alternative move to a demonstration which was stopped a fortnight ago by police and military in the area.
The Nkonya people have been embroiled in a protracted land dispute with the Alavanyo for the past 90 years.
Their press conference, which could be likened to a mini demonstration, was attended by over 600 residents who converged at Nkonya Nchumuru for the petition to be read.
The residents, represented by a group called Coalition of Orphans, Widows and Victims of Nkonya-Alavanyo Conflict, in their petition appealed to the President to institute an investigation into the activities of the Volta Regional Security Council (REGSEC) in relation to the protracted communal conflict and the peace process.
Reading the petition, the spokesperson, Cosmos Sarpong, claimed that since September 2013 the REGSEC had been thwarting the efforts of an NGO, Youth for Peace and Security Africa (YPS-AFRICA), to broker peace between the people of Nkonya and Alavanyo.
He added that some people seemed to be profiteering from the conflict, hence the seeming lukewarm attitude of the government in resolving the 90 year old conflict.
The group also questioned the essence of the 14-hour curfew imposed on the area, noting that it had rather increased the spate of attacks. They said the curfew only ‘exposes us to more danger, poverty, harassment and economic hardship.’
To this end, they called on government to also provide better security and education by reviewing the curfew. They also reminded the President of the promise he made to them on 7 th August, 2013 when he visited the area.
According to them, their smiles, hopes and aspirations had waned after the President’s promise turned out to be mere rhetoric.
Failure to do the above or any delay in granting their request, they threatened, will leave them with no option than to take their security into their hands by defending themselves against the unknown gunmen. They also threatened to go against the curfew that has been sucking their livelihood from them. Finally, they also said they would ‘expose all those people making money out of this conflict while innocent people are dying.’
But in a strong response, the Volta Regional Minister, Helen Adwoa Ntoso, who is also the Chairperson of REGSEC, described the claims as ridiculous.
She noted that if the REGSEC members were profiteering why would they commit more men to the area.
‘Do you know that an additional 30 policemen have been sent to the area from Accra? Do you know how much it costs to feed and cater for the security in the area?’ she quizzed.
In relation to the YPS-Africa claim, she said no NGO could be allowed to work in isolation in the Nkonya-Alavanyo conflict, except if that organisation was working with the recognised Regional and National Peace Councils.
On the curfew hours and security, Madam Ntoso noted that the actions of the feuding parties had resulted in their current situation, adding that ‘peace cannot prevail until the people themselves realise that what they are doing is wrong and have to unite and jaw-jaw.’
She said ‘if they want the security to be in the bush, then government will look at that critically.’
She lamented how the curfew had negatively affected the progress of a road construction at Alavanyo. She commended the youth for coming out and urged them to urge their people, including their leaders, to closely work with the REGSEC and the Peace Council to restore peace to the area.
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From Fred Duodu, Nkonya
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