Nana Osabarima Twiampomah III, Chief of Banka in the Ashanti Akim South District, was on Wednesday remanded into police custody by an Accra Fast Track High Court for allegedly misappropriating $150,000 belonging to his community.
The sum represented a lease sum paid by Gulf Coast Resources Limited, a mining company, to the people of Banka after using their land for mining 10 years ago.
Charged with stealing, 52-year old Nana Twiampomah pleaded not guilty.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, noted that with regard to the amount, it was premature to grant him bail hence remanded him to reappear on September 5.
In an application for bail, the chief’s counsel, Mr Emmanuel Bright Atokoh, informed the court that his client had been fighting for the payment of mining lease by Gulf Coast Resources which was to be paid in tranches.
Mr Atokoh said the amount in question formed part of the tranche which was to be received from the mining company.
According to him, the money the accused person received was from Banka Mining Company, a new firm which took over from Gulf Coast Resources Limited, to facilitate his work and for drinks for the community.
He prayed the court to admit his client to bail as he was of substance and a chief who would not abscond or interfere with police investigations.
According to Mr Atokoh, the case should have been tried in the Ashanti Region and not in Accra.
Prosecuting, Mr Matthew Amponsah, Principal State Attorney, declined the bail saying the accused person’s action was questionable.
Mr Amponsah pointed to the fact that the accused person had deprived the farming community of social amenities as he took all the money for himself.
He debunked the defence counsel assertion that the trial should not have taken place in Accra saying some of the transactions took place in Accra and in the Ashanti Region; hence the trail could take place in any of the jurisdictions.
Presenting the facts, prosecution said the complainant was one Nana Yeboah who is acting on behalf of the people of Banka.
According to prosecution in the year 2000, Gulf Coast Resources Limited (GCRL), acquired a mining lease for a period of 10 years from the Mineral Commission to operate a gold mining on Banka lands. The mining lease however expired in 2010.
When the lease expired, GCRL wrote a letter to the Minister of Land, Forestry and Natural Resources for the renewal of their mining lease on Banka lands. The community spearhead by the accused person, vehemently challenged the renewal of the lease.
Mr Amponsah said in a letter dated June 10, 2010, the accused person and the people of Banka petitioned the Ministry of lands, Forestry and Natural Resources, protesting the renewal of the lease because GCRL had failed to fulfill its corporate social responsibility for the past 10 years.
Following this challenge, Mr Amponsah said GCRL entered into negotiations with the accused and the people of Banka. During the said negotiation, the company promised to pay 150,000 dollars to the community as monies for development.
The accused and people therefore, in a letter dated on January 13, 2011, withdrew their petition and the mining lease was renewed for another 10 years beginning from 2011.
Mr Amponsah said after the mining lease was renewed, GCRL paid the 150,000 dollars and transferred their rights to another mining company known as Banka Gold Limited.
Prosecution said GCRL paid the amount as per Stanbic Bank Cheque number 534403 on June 14, 2011 and the accused acknowledged receiving the money and issued and signed a receipt on June 14, 2011.
Mr Amponsah said accused failed to inform his people after receiving the money. Despite the several demands by the people over the payment, accused denied receiving the money and as such reported the matter to the Police.
In the accused person’s statement to the Police, he admitted receiving the money saying the money is for his personal use and for the community.
Accused person, prosecution said, explained further that he used some of the money to defray his legal expenses when he engaged GCRL in a legal battle.