The Bulenga Area Council of Chiefs has impounded an articulator truck with registration number GN-1921-16 loaded with freshly harvested rosewood within the Manwe-Viehaa-Danyawkura road in the Wa East district of the Upper West Region.
The move was taken by some powerful chiefs within the Bulenga Area Council who are spearheading the fight against rosewood harvesting after Radio Waa’s investigation unearthed in detail, the faces behind the evil act within the Manwe enclave. The month-long investigation started after several calls and complains about the illegal harvesting of rosewood under the clothing of “supper powers” were lodged to Radio Waa 92.1fm.
During the investigation, the Assemblyman of the Area Hon. Ali was alleged to have sanctioned the act with the intention of getting some of the wood to roof his building. He (Assemblyman) was told by the operators headed by one Nuhu, younger brother of the Assemblyman and another only named Osama that such woods could not roof hence the Assemblyman instructed them to give him the proceeds of one container of rosewood to roof the building.
On 20th of April 2021, a team of Investigators after touring the harvesting site and putting our arsenals together established contact with the alleged “Big Fishes”. The first person hooked up was the Assembly member of the area. Below is the Conversation between the investigation team and the Assemblyman: Ali
Investigator; Hon. You have been fingered as being part of the rosewood harvesting in your electoral area, it is alleged that you told the operators to get you some of the woods to roof your house but you were told it can’t roof and you then asked that proceeds of a container of rosewood should be given to you…..hon are you not aware of this?”
Assemblyman’s response…. “…laughter….ehm you know if you are a leader someone can hide under your name to do anything, when we were campaigning people help us and they know you don’t receive common fund in order to use it and support them, they then use your name to do things that will benefit them, I am working and I am receiving salary I don’t need to go to the bush for anything but when you have friends and supporters who know that you can’t help them, they will only come to you to let you know of their intention to do something that will earn them something, so they will use your name and go to the bush to do such act, when it is like that you can’t say you aren’t aware of them, thus the case in this issue, they used my name and they are my relatives too but I did not instruct them to go to the bush and do it, I know they are using my name as a cover, anyone who sees them they always tell the person I am aware of them……Investigator…..asking a question…. ‘so you know they using your name’?…..Assemblyman…..yes I know they are using my name.
Investigator….so Hon you know they are using your name in this illegal act yet you are quite what shows that you are not part of the act…?
Assemblymans’ response…..’ I told those brothers of mine to stop the act, I only advised them but because I am not going to the bush I don’t know they are still doing that, you know human beings, you will advise the person yet he wouldn’t listen, I told them that even if they don’t indulge in the illegal act but God will provide for them, you know when you advise someone there are two things, is either the person heeds to your advice or not.
Investigator…..you are the government representative in the electoral area, our findings indicate that you haven’t reported this incident to the DCE to take an action once you are not able to handle it…why?
Assemblyman…eehh, the rosewood issue is complicated, if you have the support of your people and something is wrong you can control it, but you are people’s representative they voted you into power so if you are dragging their feet on issues like this you will be having problems with them. Because of the parties involved in this issue, it is bigger than me.
Investigator….your paramount chief says he is against it and did not sanction it, you are also saying the parties involved make the issue bigger than you, who are these parties bigger than you and Manwe Naa (paramount Chief of Manwe)..?
Assemblyman……so that’s what I am saying, we are all against it but the only thing we can do is to advise and that’s what I have done”….conservation ended.
Meanwhile the Paramount Chief of Manwe Traditional Area, Manwe Naa Yussif was also fingered as being the Supper Power behind the shielding of the illegal rosewood harvesters, hence the investigation team reached out to him and this was his response;
Investigator…..Chief we understand from a reliable source that you instructed the current harvesting of rosewood in your area, you have powers to stop the illegal operations yet you allow it happening under your watch is there any concrete reason why you sanctioned such act within your paramountcy..?
Manwe Naa’s response….”the committee in charge of fighting the rosewood harvesting came and told me what was happening and I gave them the go ahead to carry on with their duty of ensuring that the act is halted immediately…so I didn’t ask anyone to fell trees”
Investigator…… we are strongly told that you and the Assembly member are aware of this act true or false..?
Manwe Naa: “yes I am aware of it, once I was told by the committee over the act, I can’t say again that I am not aware of their operation”.
Investigator….the allegation is that you and the Assemblyman instructed the felling of rosewood in the area true or false..?
Manwe Naa: “No…laughter…you know, whenever a thief is caught he does everything to prove his innocence, in this country we discourage robbery but people are robbing, we discourage illegal mining but people are doing it, we are only discouraging people from felling the woods yet they are doing it, so they can catch someone and the person will want to use my name to seek refuge. No Chief will ever ask rosewood harvesters to start felling trees that are even older than your grandparents”
Investigator……ohk Chief there is this articulator truck flat body parked at your community Manwe, its head is black with a red container on the flatbody that has rosewood inside it and preparing to go and load some, are you aware of such vehicle, can you use your powers to impound it…..?
Manwe Naa: “no I am not aware of the said vehicle and I have no hand in it, so it is left on to the committee to do its work”.
Again, the Investigation team confronted the group of chiefs fighting the rosewood harvesting and one of the chiefs who spoke to the team on condition of anonymity confirmed the involvement of the Manwe Paramount Chief in the act.
Conversation between the investigation team and a member of the group of chiefs against rosewood harvesting
Investigator…….Chief we have gotten evidence that one of your high chiefs is behind this act, no less a person than the Paramount Chief of Manwe and because of that you are drugging your feet in fighting the menace, can you confirm that for us or you are afraid of him?
Response….”yes it is true that Manwe Naa is involved in it, he admitted it and called on the committee to settle the matter on his behalf and we are still deliberating on it”.
Investigator…..So how do you intend resolving the matter, are you going to let go the harvested rosewood?
Response……”No we are going to confiscate them and sit with him on the matter”
Investigator……….will there be sanctions to this regard?
Response……”I can’t speak of sanctions for now but we are definitely going to confiscate the wood and auction them”.
Investigator…….thanks Chief but our eyes are on the committee and will not let our guide down on this matter.
On 21st of April 2021, a distress called came to the Investigation team through one of our source from the scene.
Phone ringing…….”hello good morning, good morning, please I just saw the truck parked at Manwe here to convey the rosewood heading towards Viehaa where some of the woods are parked..”
Investigator…..Okay we are following up on it immediately, keep focus on the movement of the Vehicle. Thank you.
The team immediately called on the group of Chiefs to find out whether such move by the vehicle was sanction by them.
Investigator…….Good morning Chief, we have gotten a signal regarding the movement of the Articulator truck parked at Manwe heading towards Viahaa, are you aware of such development?
Response from anonymous Chief,…No we are not aware of such and thank you for drawing our attention to that.
Investigator………Okay Chief, like I said earlier our eyes are on you, the vehicle is within your parameters we won’t take it lightly if it vanishes with the rosewood into thin air.
Few hours later, the investigation team hooked on one Inspector Eric, the police officer following up on the rosewood matter.
Investigators……good morning officer, the rosewood under your care, have you sanctioned any Vehicle to convey them from Viahaa this morning?
Inspector Eric response…….”No sir, I haven’t any move taken by anybody on that regard is illegal”.
Investigator…..”you told me that the said rosewood are under the surveillance of the police and now a vehicle is moving to convey them, what happens to the policing you talked about?
Inspector Eric…..”please I am in court but we will act accordingly and ensure their arrest”.
Investigator……”very well, our eyes are on you sir, thank you”.
At about 10:00am, on the 21st of April 2021, the articulator truck was arrested by the group of chiefs and the police between Viahaa and DanyawKura whiles preparing to load the twelve pieces of harvested rosewood in addition to the already loaded pieces. The Vehicle is currently parked at the Upper West Regional Police headquarters and all the harvesters are at large.
The incident has also brought in a crack among the group of Chiefs within the Bulenga Area Council spearheading the fight against rosewood harvesting as a session of them were against the move taken to involve the police in the matter.
However, the probed reveals that a contract sum of GHS14,000 was agreed upon by the “Big Fishes” and the rosewood harvesters and payment would have been done immediately after the contractor now at large had finished with the lumbering.
A check at the police station on April 29, 2021 reveals that no one is coming forth as being the owner of the harvested rosewood and everyone invited for questioning in this regard turned down the police invite.
Rosewood harvesting in the Upper West Region has recently taken a different dimension after government totally banned the act, the harvesters now indulged in the act through traditional rulers for whom the harvesters lieu with sums of money ranging from GHS5,000-GHS14,000.
Some traditional rulers in the Upper West Region have in recent times started gaining notoriety in the harvesting of rosewood especially in the Wa East and Wa West districts. The act by the few chiefs and landlords have also rendered the forestry commission toothless and the commission instead of punishing the perpetrators rather turns into advisory center.
There is more to unravel soon….