News last week emerged about some seized excavators going missing in Ellembelle. The excavators were part of equipment discovered by the District Chief Executive for Ellembelle, Kwesi Bonzoh, who doubles as the Chairman of the District Security Council (DISEC) during his tour of a portion of land belonging to the Nkroful Agric Senior High School in the area.
The DCE and his team set ablaze equipment at the site and transported the two excavators, which were also on the site, to a nearby community – Teleku-Bokazo- to later be transported to the nearest police station.
According to the DCE, the incident was reported to the police on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.
He noted that he sought to get two police officers from the station to guard the seized excavators to ensure they were not taken back by the owners while his team tried to secure lowbeds to transport the excavators to the Regional Security Council but the police insisted they were short of personnel.
After some agreement, however, two officers were released but left the excavators at 6 PM after they arrived at the scene at 2 PM with the excuse that they had been requested to return to their station.
Kwasi Bonzoh, in an interview with Joynews, further revealed that they were nowhere to be found the next morning when his team arrived to check on the excavators.
After this, according to the DCE, he sought clarity from the police commander at the District Police Station but the accounts the latter gave for why his men left the equipment abandoned raised concerns.
“What he said was that they didn’t have men and that the people were supposed to come back, so they called him (his personal assistant) when they were leaving, and he told them they could leave. Then I asked him how that two constables would take instructions from a civilian; that was when he said they were supposed to come because they were in station orderly, so they were supposed to come and change over,” the DCE said.
The police account:
Following reports of the missing excavators by several media platforms, the police on Friday released a statement indicating that ‘no excavators were handed over to the police by the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Ellembelle, Mr. Kwasi Bonzoh, or any other person from the assembly.”
They further urged the public to disregard the publication while noting that the DCE, his personal assistant, and another person are being investigated in connection with the missing excavators.
The DCE, Kwasi Bonzoh, has since reacted to the police statement. According to him, the narrative of the police and the way they have handled the issue makes them complicit in the matter.
Speaking to Joynews, the DCE said, “We thought it was negligence of duty, but with their narration and the way they are trying so hard to hide certain things, they are hiding something, and we have to find out; we cannot rely on the police to investigate because they themselves they are an interested party.
“So this matter that the police is saying they weren’t here and that I should be investigated for these two excavators, I wasn’t here when the excavators were even parked here; I was in Accra.
“The operators, when they parked the excavators, they left, but we were getting the lowbed so that we can send them to the Regional Minister’s officers as he requested.
“Before the statement was released- that is where I suspect something fishy- the police sent a team here for investigations, so I availed myself, gave them all the investigation, and gave them all videos, pictures, thinking that they would even track the excavators.
“Then, in the evening, I heard that a member of the district small-scale mining committee had been arrested by the police, so I went to the police station, and I was also arrested and made to write a caution statement and given self-recognisance bail, that was when the police released the statement.
“They said I was being investigated for false publication that I said that the excavators were handed over to the police and I said I never said that. Even before the statement, I had written an official report, and submitted it to the Western Regional Minister who is the Chairman of the Regional Security Council.
“For the benefit of the doubt, I told the Regional Commander to go with me to the scene to see the site where the excavators were parked. He refused. As I speak, all the 3 police officers whose responsibility [it] was to find the missing excavators, none of them – not the Divisional Commander, the District Commander, nor the Divisional Crime officer, have visited the site where the excavators were parked, yet they claim they are investigating me. What are they investigating? How can you do investigations without going to the site,” he said.
DCE’s word against Police word:
On how he wants the issue handled, Kwasi Bonzoh asked for an independent investigation by the interior ministry, considering his argument that the police may themselves be complicit in the matter.
“The divisional Commander’s narrative is even worse; he says the excavators were in my possession for 48 hours. I believe strongly that if the police really want to track the excavators given all the information, they can track the excavators and arrest those involved,” he said.