Saturday, September 8, 2012
Banka chief granted bail
September 6, 2012 (Page 28) THE Chief of Banka in the Ashanti Akim South District of the Ashanti Region, Nana Osabarima Twiampomah III, who was alleged to have misappropriated $150,000 belonging to his subjects, was today granted GHC50,000 bail with a surety. The Fast Track High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, also directed that the surety of the accused person must deposit title deeds worth $150,000. It also directed the accused person to sign a bond to indicate that he would not leave the jurisdiction until the final determination of the matter. Osabarima Twiampomah III was given the money in trust of the people of Banka by a mining company as part of its social responsibility but he allegedly diverted it for his personal use. Dissatisfied with his alleged action, his subjects reported him to the police resulting in his arrest. He was first arraigned before the court on August 29, 2012 and remanded in custody to reappear today. The chief was granted bail after his lawyer, Mr Emmanuel Bright Atokoh, prayed the court to grant him bail since he was a known member of the community and would avail himself for trial. Counsel gave the assurance that his client will not interfere with investigations when granted bail. A Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, said the prosecution was not opposed to bail on condition that the accused person would be made to pay half of the misappropriated amount. Responding to Mr Amponsah’s suggestion, the defence counsel prayed the court not to use bail as a punitive measure. The facts of the case as presented by the prosecution were that in 2000, a Gulf Coast Resources Company Limited acquired a mining lease for a period of 10 years from the Mineral Commission to operate a gold mine at Banka. The mining lease expired in 2010 and upon expiration, the mining company applied to the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources for the renewal of its mining lease. On the contrary, the Banka community, spearheaded by the accused person wrote a letter dated June 10, 2010 to the sector ministry challenging the renewal of the lease on grounds that the Gulf Coast Resources Company Ltd had failed to fulfill its corporate and social obligations to the Banka community for the past decade. Following this challenge, the management of the company entered into negotiations with the accused and the people of Banka and as a result, the company pledged to pay the Banka community $ 150,000 for its development activities if the accused person and the people of the Banka withdrew their petition against the renewal of their lease. The chief and his people obliged and accordingly withdrew their petition per letter dated January 13, 2011 authored on their behalf by the accused person and addressed to the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources. As a result of the withdrawal of the petition, the mining lease of the company was renewed for another 10 years with effect from 2011. Upon renewal of the lease, the Gulf Coast Resources Company Ltd transferred its rights to another mining company, called Banka Gold Ltd. O and out of the proceeds from the transaction Gulf Coast Resources Company Ltd paid the amount of 150,000 US dollars, to the accused for the people of Banka as promised earlier. According to the prosecution, the Managing Director of the Gulf Coast Resources Company Ltd, Mr Ebenezer Baah Asare-Quansah, stated in his statement to the police that the $150,000 was for the Banka community but not for the accused person’s personal use. The prosecution said the money into the accused person’s bank account on June 14, 2011 and he acknowledged receipt on the same day adding that the contents of the accused person’s receipt indicated that he had received the money on behalf of the elders and people of Banka. Although, the accused person had acknowledged receipt of the money, he failed to inform the people of Banka that he had received the $150,000. He also failed to release the money to the people of Banka but the beneficiaries got wind that the money had been paid to accused person and following after their frantic efforts to retrieve the money failed, they reported the accused person to the police.