Talensi DCE asked to resign, evades questions from the press

TAMCI members (left) and the DCE of Talensi, Thomas Pearson Wuni Duanab.

The District Chief Executive (DCE) of Talensi, Thomas Pearson Wuni Duanab, has been asked by natives of the area to resign.

Members of the Talensi Mining Communities Initiative (TAMCI) made the call at a news conference held Tuesday.

They say the DCE still has a chance to save his face by jumping before he is pushed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo through sacking or removed by the members of the Talensi District Assembly through a motion of no confidence.

“Duanab Thomas [should] resign as DCE for Talensi before he is kicked out by President Nana Addo or a vote of no confidence by the Talensi District Assembly,” TAMCI said in a statement read by its Secretary, Gilbert Laandolba, in Bolgatanga, capital of Ghana’s Upper East region.

TAMCI members at the news conference.

The DCE has come under growing pressure to resign for his alleged role in a recent military-police operation that saw a number of people killed and wounded from gunshots at Gban, a gold-mining suburb east of the district.

Among the dead was Bright Mbadiatong, a third-year student of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) who was in the area when the state security forces reportedly fired live bullets into a crowd of resident protesters.

At least two people were gunned down with an uncertain number wounded.

Some of the victims of the shooting.

The forces were deployed by the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), the highest security board of the Upper East region, on Friday, 15 March 2024, to seal some mining pits said to be existing illegally at a site in the community. The site was captured a few years ago by Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, a Chinese company formerly called Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.

DCE’s alleged comments that heightened public anger against government 

The protesters maintained that the targetted pits were not illegal. They described the move as a plot by the political heads of the district and the region to protect the Chinese company’s interest at the expense of some licensed small-scale miners in the locality.

And they met the forces’ joint attempt to close the pits with stiff resistance, resulting in the gunfire.

“As the chairman of the District Security Council (DISEC), the DCE failed to give the military and the police the true picture on the ground and that resulted in people being killed,” added TAMCI’s President, Bismark Zumah.  

According to TAMCI, some traditional authorities, opinion leaders, assembly members and leaders of some concerned small-scale miners foresaw the March 15 bloody chaos and warned the DCE and the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, against the plan to close the pits but they ignored the warnings.  

A cross-section of the protesters.

The DCE’s subsequent comments, which he made during news interviews in a bid to justify the operation, doubled an already-burning wave of public outrage against the government. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, we heard the DCE of Talensi, Thomas Pearson Duanab, in response to a question from TV3, declare that the small-scale miners were illegally operating in the area and were intruding in Earl International’s operations,” TAMCI said. “We are here to set the records straight.”

TAMCI provides facts on Shaanxi

While addressing journalists at the conference, TAMCI narrated what it said was the true picture of the sequence of developments in Talensi since 1992.

The disputed site, according to TAMCI, has 27 concessions and about 200 mining pits. Unregulated small-scale mining activities started in 1992 in the area and continued until the Minerals Commission began to apportion and license concessions in 2006. 

The Chinese company, it said, arrived as a support service provider to Yenyeya and Pubortaaba (two separate local concessions in the district) and began to extract gold in 2010. And it said about 60 people had died and several others had been injured so far through the illegal activities carried out by the Chinese company.

TAMCI Secretary, Gilbert Laandolba, at the news conference.

“Shaanxi was purely an illegal business enterprise shielded by authorities to steal, kill and destroy Ghana and Ghanaians. They registered to become a large-scale mining company and decided to take over the site rudely. They wrote the most stupid and bogus agreement ever in Ghana supervised by the Regional Minister and CEO of the Minerals Commission in 2022. 

“This agreement was intended to be between the concession owners and Earl International. It was prepared without the basis of any law or regulations of the Minerals Commission. Poor agreement was not accepted by Yenyeya concession, Nalamtaaba concession and few others,” the statement said.

It added: “The so-called agreement manifested a lot of corruption-related cases and caused troubles such that there are many court cases involving some small-scale miners against Earl International, the Regional Minister, the DCE and the Minerals Commission.”  

We can longer bear the killings— TAMCI

In 2023, Zongdan Boyak Kolog, a popular small-scaled miner better known as Polo, took the Chinese company to a High Court in Bolgatanga for making an attempt to take over his concession, named Nanlamtaaba Enterprise, without his consent.

He added the DCE, the Minerals Commission and two other individuals to the civil suit as defendants and secured an interlocutory injunction order prohibiting all of them from that concession.

TAMCI expressed dismay during the press conference that, despite the injunction order issued by the High Court, REGSEC still targetted Nanlamtaaba pits for closure in the interest of the same Chinese company.

“This is purely a contempt of court case,” remarked the organisation’s president. “If the laws of Ghana actually would work, these people should be facing the [music] by now.”

One of the victims of the March 15 shooting receiving treatment at the Upper East Regional Hospital.

Adding his voice, a TAMCI founding member, Albert Naa, said the people of Talensi had grown weary of mourning as people continued to die as a result of the Chinese company’s disregard for the lives and safety of Ghanaians in the district.

“We are sick and tired of getting up and waking up every day to hear that two people have died here. We are sick and tired of the indiscriminate actions that the police and the military from time to time would always come and visit on our people. We are sick and tired of waking up to hear that two people have died in a mining pit as a result of improper safety measures.

“We are sick and tired as Talensis to always ride on these dusty roads, knowing very well that these mining companies are breaking our culverts, breaking bridges and not repairing them. We are sick and tired that today in Talensi, children lie on their bellies to study in classrooms when people are carting away so much money in terms of gold,” Naa said.

Call for Justice

TAMCI wrapped up the presser with a demand for justice for the victims of 15th March 2024 shooting and the 23rd January 2019 underground explosion that claimed 16 lives.

“In 2019, we lost 16 energetic young men through their (Shaanxi’s) negligence,” Zumah said. “We have been crying for justice and nothing has been done. This happened before the recent one in March. We are asking for justice for all of them.” 

Albert Naa, a founding member of TAMCI, addressing journalists at the conference.

Naa warned that the silence of authorities on the recurring incidents of human rights abuses linked to the Chinese company in the district could trigger an unlikeable outcome in the future.

“And things like these have the potential to cause an uproar,” he warned. “Because as you keep taking the injustice, a time is coming when you can no longer take it.”

“We are calling on the district security council, the regional security council and probably the national security council that if they don’t take this matter serious and find a way to make sure that the right is done, tomorrow if Talensis rise and are agitating they should have themselves to blame because we have been taking this injustice for far too long.

“You have the 16 who died in 2019. You have another 10 who died in 2020 simply because Shaanxi who wanted to construct a road blocked a particular stream and failed to do proper culvert and a [following a] heavy downpour, water found its way into the pits of some miners and killed 10 of them. We have had two deaths there, five deaths there, three deaths there. As for the injured people, we can’t even count them,” Naa said.

DCE dodges questions

Before publishing this report Thursday, Media Without Borders contacted the DCE via WhatsApp for his comments Tuesday.

This media outlet asked him what was illegal about the operations of the small-scale miners if he actually told TV3 that they were illegal miners.

He was also asked for his comment on the allegation levelled against him that he ignored some warnings assembly members gave him prior to the operation that caused the chaos and the deaths.

The DCE of Talensi, Thomas Duanab.

In response to the questions, the DCE only sent a phone recording of his interview on TV3 to the author of this report via WhatsApp. The answers he gave to TV3 in that recording are not related to the questions Media Without Borders asked him.

In effect, the DCE did not explain why he told the world that the operations of the small-scale miners were illegal and he declined to comment on his alleged role in the operation that led to the killing and wounding of Talensi natives on March 15.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org  


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