Regional News Wed, 25 Feb 2004

Ada chiefs distance themselves from ?demo?

....over Songhor Salt Factory

Ada (Greater Accra ? Gh) 25 February 2004 - The Ada Traditional Council (ATC) has distanced itself from a recent demonstration by a group calling itself Chiefs and Headmen of Ada Traditional Area over the ownership and management of the Songhor Salt Factory.

The Council said it was not aware of the existence of any body in their traditional set-up known as the Chiefs and Headmen of Ada Traditional Area.

In a statement signed by the Paramount Chief of Ada and President of the Council, Nene Abram Akuaku III in reaction to the claim by the group, the Traditional Council warned those who were using the Songor Lagoon for their parochial interest to desist from such diabolical acts.

The Council has therefore described the ultimatum given to the government by the group to repeal PNDC Law 287 and hand over the lagoon to them as baseless, saying it came from a group who were out to soil the image of the Ada Traditional Council.

It also emerged in investigations by ?The Chronicle? newspaper and corroborated by the Council that a section of the mob that took part in the demonstration and attempted to forcibly take over Songhor Salt Factory was hired from outside the Ada area.

On 12 February, the group led by one Joseph Amartey Tachie demonstrated against the government and called for the handing over of the Songhor Lagoon to the people of Ada. The Chronicle gathered that some weeks before the demonstration Amartey allegedly attended meetings with some politicians at which a plan was hatched to take over of the Songhor Lagoon.

This, however, got to the knowledge of the traditional council, which decided to prepare to meet the group ?boot for boot?. The council alerted the security agents about the meetings and the plans to create chaos by the group. The Chronicle learnt that Tema police, armed with this information, refused to give the group permit for the demonstration.

In spite of this, the group managed to transport people from outside Ada to stage the demonstration during which the mob tried to seize the Songhor Salt factory but the chiefs and the people around the lagoon kept them at bay.

?If they are claiming that the demonstration was by the chiefs and headmen or those who are staying around the Songhor Lagoon then why did we prevent them from staging a take over?? one chief retorted to The Chronicle?s enquiry. ?We are not part of the that group and we would never be part of a group like this who are always out to destroy what the elders are putting together,? another sub-chief said.

The chiefs also warned all those who were hiding behind some people at Ada to create confusion in the area to desist from their acts ?because the Traditional Council would not allow itself to be used by greedy politicians and opportunists?.

It is on record that after the Traditional Council started negotiations with the government over the way forward for the Songhor Lagoon mining, a group calling itself Ada Concerned Citizens Association (ACCA) emerged which, according to the Council tried to undermine the effort.

The group later brought on board the Ga-Dangbe Council to serve as intermediary between the Council and the government for a fee but the chiefs rejected the proposal on the basis that the government was more accessible and there was no need for anybody to broker any deal for a fee.

When the ACCA agenda could not hold, another group known as Ada Songhor Lagoon Basin Owners Association (ASLBOA) came up with characters that formed the ACCA as the leaders, including Amartey Tachie. The Traditional Council said all these groups did not last because it was clear that politicians were using them.

The Chronicle had sighted a number of confrontational letters by the leadership of some of the groups to Kwadwo Adjei Darko, the then Minister of Mines, in which they threatened to make matters difficult and ensure that the government did not develop the lagoon if their demands were not met.

It was as part of this move that in August 2002,the Paramount Chief of Ada was kidnapped on the day he was to lead the Traditional Council to pay a courtesy call on President Kufuor at the Castle, Osu.

The reason behind the kidnapping of the Paramount Chief, according to The Chronicle sources, was that the chiefs were visiting the Osu Castle to finally sign a document to hand over Songhor Lagoon to the NPP Government.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle