A farmer, Timothy Teye Ali, has told an Accra High Court how the alleged illegal mining activities of En Huang, aka, Aisha Huang led to the destruction of Offin, Nkyingo, Afraso and Kobri Rivers at Sukummu, near Bepotenten in the Ashanti Region.
Led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs Yvonne Atakoroa Obuobisa, Ali admitted knowing Aisha “very well” at “Sukuumu” (School) at Bepotenten and that her illegal mining activities had destroyed the rivers.
The fifth prosecution witness told the court that he inherited a four-acre farmland from his grandfather 40 years ago and same had been his source of livelihood.
According to him, he had cultivated cocoa and oil palm on the said four-acre farmland situated on a hilly area, which was close to the Offin river.
“This farmland was my source of income, which enabled me to take care of my family,” he added.
The witness said in the year 2017, he was contacted by one James Ogbey of Sukuumu that a Chinese lady by name Aisha (En Huang) wanted to buy his land to mine gold.
“I was not the only one James Ogbey contacted, three family members whose farms share boundaries with my farmland were also contacted to sell their farms to Aisha Huang,” he said.
The witness mentioned the three family members as Moses Teye Ali, Peter Amenya and Kwadwo Atia.
“We all agreed and met Mr James Ogbey on the farms to take measurements of each person’s land and crops on them.
“My land, which contained cocoa and palm trees was assessed and an amount of GHC28,000 was agreed upon for the accused person to pay.”
The witness said just as they had completed the assessment, Aisha arrived so they went to see her at her mining site, which was near their farms, adding that “Aisha gave each of us GHC1,000 through James Ogbey and she promised to pay the rest.”
“I told James Ogbey to tell the accused person not to start work on our farmlands until the full payment was made.
“Strangely and contrary to our agreement, I heard the following morning that my farmland of cocoa and palm trees had been cleared,” the witness said.
Ali told the court that he rushed to his farm and to his surprise “every crop on my four-acre land had been cleared with an excavator.”
He said “all of us who were affected rushed to James Ogbey for an explanation as to why our farmlands were cleared without the agreed amount being fully paid to us. Ogbey assured my colleagues and I that the accused does not owe anyone from whom she had bought land and that she (Aisha) will pay us so we should not entertain any fears.”
The witness told the court that he later received GHS3,000, GHS4,000 and GHS5,000 at different times from James Ogbey as part payment for his farmland.
Ali told the court that Aisha continued to work on his farmland without fully paying him until she was arrested for illegal mining.
He said after several months of not receiving full payment, he reported James Ogbey to the Police at Jacobu in Amansie Central and later sent him to Court.
Answering questions under cross examination by Mr Hope Agboado, one of the counsels of Aisha, Ali admitted that Aisha never paid him personally.
The matter has been adjourned to Wednesday December 21 for continuation and conclusion of cross-examination.
Aisha Huang is standing trial among others for engaging in illegal mining at Bepotenten in the Ashanti region in the year 2017 and re-entering Ghana though prohibited.
She has pleaded not guilty, and the court has remanded her into lawful custody.