Another prosecution witness has confirmed that En Huang, aka Aisha Huang, the Chinese lady standing trial for engaging in illegal mining, is indeed into the illegal activity by confirming that she purchased his farmland for the business.
The witness, Timothy Teye Ali, a farmer from Bepotenten Sukuumu in the Amansie Constituency in the Ashanti Region, led in his evidence-in-chief by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, yesterday told the court that the Chinese lady purchased his four-acre cocoa and oil palm farmland for GH¢28,000 but failed to pay the full amount agreed upon.
He told the court that he inherited the four-acre farmland located on a hilly area close to the Offin River from his grandfather 40 years ago, and it was his source of income which enabled him to take care of his family.
He said between February and March 2017, he and three other family members whose farms shared boundaries were contacted by one James Ogbey, who was Aisha Huang’s foreman, that the accused wanted to purchase their farmlands to mine gold.
He told the court that they all agreed and met James Ogbey on the farms to take measurements of each person’s land and crops on them, and his farm which had cocoa and palm trees was assessed and an amount of GH¢28,000 was agreed upon for the accused person to pay.
“On that day of the assessment of the farmlands and agreement of fees, James Ogbey informed us at the commencement of the exercise that the accused person could not come personally because she was engaged elsewhere. Just as we completed the assessment, the accused person arrived so we went to see her at her mining site, which was near our farms to collect our money. She gave each of us GH¢1,000 through James Ogbey and she promised to pay the rest later,” Mr. Teye told the court.
The witness continued that he told James Ogbey to tell Aisha Huang not to start work on the farmlands until the full payment had been made, and he assured them that their farmlands will not be touched until they were all fully paid the agreed fees.
“Strangely, and contrary to our agreement, I heard the following morning, that my farmland of cocoa and palm trees had been cleared. I rushed to my farm and to my surprise every crop on my four-acre land had been cleared with an excavator,” he said.
He continued that “all of us who were affected rushed to James Ogbey for an explanation as to why our farmlands had been cleared without the agreed amount being fully paid to us. He assured my other colleagues and I that the accused person does not owe anyone from whom she had bought land, and that she will definitely pay us so we should not entertain any fears,” he added.
Mr. Teye said he was later paid GH¢12,000 in installments of GH¢3,000, GH¢4,000 and GH¢5,000 as part-payment for his farmland.
He further stated that following the arrest of Aisha Huang, he and his affected family members went to Ogbey to demand the rest of the their money and he assured them that even if Aisha was convicted, her properties were enough to be sold to pay off any money she owed.
Mr. Teye said he later heard that one of Aisha Huang’s excavators was sold to pay him and other affected family members off, but Ogbey only gave him GH¢2,000, adding he would not make any further payments.
The witness said he reported Ogbey to the Jacobu Police in Amansie Central and also sent him to court.
“The galamsey activities of the accused person led to the destruction of Offin, Nkyingo, Afraso and Kobri rivers at Sukuumu, Bepotenten,” the witness added.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak