The Divisional Police Command in Bolgatanga is investigating a fresh criminal case involving Robert Boazor Tampoare, a small-scale miner in Ghana’s Upper East Region, following his arrest on Thursday, 16 November 2023.
Tampoare has been arrested multiple times since 2022, a year after he lost his once-disapproving voice against the operation of China’s Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, a mining firm known previously as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited, in the Talensi District.
And he is standing trial in at least two courts in the region’s capital, Bolgatanga, over a number of strong accusations he has consistently denied.
His latest arrest comes after an opinion leader in Talensi, Yaro T. Baba Zumah, lodged some complaints against him at the Divisional Police Command in Bolgatanga.
The educationist, who owns a gold-mining concession in Gban, a suburb of Talensi, alleged that when the Chinese company took over several small-scale mining concessions in the district (including his own) about two years ago and had to compensate each of the concessionaires, Tampoare acted as a middleman between the company and the small-scale miners for the compensation payment process.
Zumah explained that his concession, named Mpeligiba Enterprise, initially was omitted from a list being used to pay the compensations and when he drew Tampoare’s attention to it, he requested Gh¢8,000 ($672) from him to conduct a search to find out if his concession fell within the 16.02 square kilometres the Chinese company had captured for a large-scale mining operation.
“He asked that I bring a proof of all the documents that I had concerning my concession. Despite providing the documents he needed, he asked for Gh¢8,000 from me to put up a search and that when that search was done my name would be listed.
“It was difficult for me. I was able to raise only Gh¢4,000, which I borrowed from a friend, and gave it to him. After that transaction, he brought a minerals cadastre map which was said to have been generated by the Minerals Commission, indicating the position of my concession. But the map was not signed and there was no authority on it,” he said.
Zumah made another claim that, while the compensations were being paid to the concessionaires at the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, Tampoare created a fake mining company for himself by the name of Unique Mining Enterprise, used the location of his (Zumah’s) concession on the minerals cadastre map as the site of the fake company he reportedly created and received Gh¢150,000 in compensation for himself in the name of that alleged fake company.
“Unique Mining Enterprise does not exist. He positioned it at where my concession is. That name is not on the map. Is Unique Mining Enterprise an applicant, a defective licence holder or a valid licence holder?
“Unique Mining Enterprise doesn’t exist anywhere and it is collecting moneys as royalties from the Chinese company, Earl International Group. I suspect it is a calculated move by some rogues, gangsters, to draw moneys from the small-scale miners’ account and share among themselves,” stated Zumah.
Exclusion from share of royalties
The Chinese company is said to have signed an agreement to pay a 2% royalty every six months to the small-scale miners who surrendered their concessions to the company.
Tampoare, Zumah says, is the chairman of those small-scale miners and they have, as a group, opened a bank account which is under Tampoare’s control and into which the royalties are to be paid.
So far, the company has paid 4.1 million Ghana cedis ($344,570) in royalties into that joint account, according to Zumah.
“Unlike the compensations, the 4.1 million Ghana cedis did not go to the regional minister. He (Tampoare) opened an account with friends and decided to share the money. Even with this one, he excluded my concession and all attempts to get him to do the right thing have failed.
“I called the Earl International Group’s lawyer on the matter. He said I was supposed to be part of the royalties. I also called the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) because they prepared the agreement and the EPA’s Director of Mines, Michael Sandow Ali, said I was qualified for a share in the royalties. That is why I had to resort to the police,” Zumah said.
How Tampoare denies his own arrest and his bail surety exposes him
When contacted for his side of the story, Tampoare told Media Without Borders emphatically that he was not arrested.
Below is the dialogue between Media Without Borders and Tampoare transcribed in exactly the same words as were used in the conversation:
MWB: I sent a message to you yesterday. I called, too.
Tampoare: To do what?
MWB: I’m told you were arrested and there are some allegations against you. So, I called for your side of the story yesterday.
Tampoare: Who arrest me?
MWB: The Divisional Police Command.
Tampoare: Arresting me for what?
MWB: Yes, based on some allegations I’m told Mr Yaro lodged against you.
Tampoare: No one arrest me. No one arrest me.
MWB: You were not arrested on Thursday?
Tampoare: I wasn’t arrested. Arresting me for what? What do you mean by arrest?
MWB: I’m told you were arrested by the Divisional Police Command.
Tampoare: I’ve never been arrest. If you don’t know, I’m telling you. So, if here you say you told them I’ve been arrest, I’ve never been arrest. And that’s the information I want you to…If you say they told, tell the person that who told you that I’ve been arrest it’s not true.
MWB: But were you at the police… on Thursday, the Divisional Police Command?
Tampoare: I say I’ve never been arrest.
MWB: But were you at the Divisional Police Command on Thursday, the last Thursday?
[Tampoare abruptly ends the telephone conversation without any further answer].
The police were completely surprised about Tampoare’s arrest denial when Media Without Borders communicated his comments to them for further clarification.
The police provided further details to Media Without Borders on Sunday, 19 November 2023, saying Tampaore was held in detention for about six hours after his arrest and was bailed by his close friend and fellow small-scale miner called John Bawa.
When Media Without Borders contacted Bawa, he confirmed that Tampoare was arrested and that he (Bawa) bailed him.
“I went and bailed him. He was arrested and asked me to come and bail him. When he was arrested, he called me that I should come and bail him and I went and bailed him,” Bawa said on Sunday.
Police authorities at the divisional command say they have asked Tampoare to produce some documents pending a possible court trial for falsification of account and fraud.
Until recently, Tampoare was for many year in the front line of widespread opposition against the presence of the Chinese company in Talensi.
He led several public protests against the company and twice called upon the ‘gods’ of Talenteng (the land of Talensi) to deal with the wealthy Chinese company and its local collaborators who had betrayed the trust and interest of the people of Talensi for selfish gains.
He is not the only anti-Shaanxi critic who has gone quiet even as the same ills they once criticised are still happening in front of their eyes today.
A number of such critics have contracted the same infectious ‘voice loss syndrome’ in the area and are now working from the Shaanxi side against their former fellow activists who are determined to pursue justice for the people of Talensi no matter the trials or temptations that come their way.
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org