Axim, western end of Cape Three Points from s e b on Flickr

There were stories yesterday and today on GhanaWeb about militant groups organizing in response to the oil drilling activity near Cape Three Points, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, and Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa.

Yesterday’s story, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, alleges:

A group calling itself The CAPE MILITIA has emerged as the militant group posing as the official mouthpiece of mostly unemployed youth of the area who believe a large chunk of the oil proceeds should be used to develop first, the oil find area before the larger Ghanaian society.

They also claim their action will be the only way to mitigate the likely environmental hazards and other forms of casualties that inhabitants of the oil find areas are likely to encounter when the oil drilling starts.

According to the leader (name withheld), they hold their daily meetings at Agona Nkwanta, where they engage in the training and the use of fire arms at a village near the Ghana Rubber Estates Plantation at Nkwanta.

The group leader disclosed that they have identified some pipelines under the seabed and will soon start attacking them and threatened to start targeting rig and non-oil facilities, like bridges, buildings belonging to oil companies in the area if they are not assured of equal e opportunities.

“We will give a fore-warning to avoid casualties as our intent is to only bring down a those symbols of oppression and injustice,” the rebel leader noted. “My brother this is the only way we can press home our demands: Western Region has suffered from decades of neglect, pollution, and underdevelopment,” he blurred out with a choked voice.

The group leader said their concerns are corroborated by evidence of destruction of fishing nets of fisher folks of the area and the pollution of their source of drinking water since preparation for the oil find began.

Indeed the leader also recalled how the recent dumping of drilled mud in the sea caused by operators of the Jubilee field has created lots of environmental problems for the people living along the coast.

A fisherman, Opanyin Mbere, was sure that his children had joined the group because they had seen and felt the atrocities meted out to them by the find of the Black Gold.

“Now when I go to sea I have no catch because all the fishes are attracted by the lights from the rigs; then we are told not to fish along the rigs, how should I feed my family, if the cause of my children can bring some hope, huh am in full support,” Opayin Mbere noted.

The first thing that strikes you on meeting members of CAPE MILITIA is the ease with which they communicate their problems and how they identify some probable solutions.

It was amazing, at least those elected to respond to questions, are articulate, well-educated, and conversant with the latest political developments at home and abroad.

There are a number of things that strike me as odd about this report. However it is true that the western region has not been reached by much development.

There was certainly not much about “probable solutions” in the article. The last two paragraphs seem somewhat at odds with the rest of the story. I don’t doubt the possibility of educated and articulate militants, it is just that the rest of the story does not seem to support this. If the supposed militants have such good ideas, it seems some ought to be mentioned as suggestions or examples. Many of the comments are interesting as well. Comments on GhanaWeb are not moderated. So there are always tedious insult wars going on, as well as timely and targeted opinions. You can mouseover the comments to get some sense of what is there.

The second article, Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa, is a refutation of the story in the first article:

A deputy Minister of Information says reports of Militia groups springing up in the oil rich Cape Three Points in the Western Region of Ghana are untrue and must be discarded.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told Joy News the reports are of no substance, adding “those who want to give credence to it just want to engage in unnecessary fear mongering.”

Residents in the area have been quick to dismiss the story but Security Analyst Dr. Kwesi Aning insists the situation could even be worse and have cautioned national security to be vigilant.

Speaking to Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh the Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah says government has done enough checks and is convinced no such militia group exists in the Western Region.

He said government is rather guarding against circumstances that will engender people to lure the youth to take up arms in the oil rich area.

“At the end of the day what will make militias thrive or give people with evil intentions the opportunity to lure young persons and co-opt them to form militias as we have seen in other parts of the world is to what extent we are able to manage the oil resources so that everybody benefits including the people of the Western Region. That is our safest cure to all of [these] reports of insecurity,” he said.

Here again a number of comments to the article are interesting.

There is no question the Western Region has been neglected. And there is poverty there, and the devastating lack of opportunity that accompanies poverty. But this story sounds like fear mongering with underlying political motives as well. And the security expert quoted may have his own political agenda. The words of the Deputy Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa sound a bit more politically expedient than informed. But then Joy News is owned by a strong opposition party supporter. I don’t know anything about Today, the source of the first article. The story of the militants may be a fear mongering political ploy.

Ghana’s National Security Coordinator, Gbevlo Lartey, is a tough no nonsense guy, and I’d be interested to know what he has to say on any such matter as this before forming an opinion.

Both the environment and the people in the gold mining areas have been ruthlessly exploited, and so far as I know there are no reports of insurgent militants in those areas. You can see some of the exploitation of the environment and the neglect of local citizenry in this photoessay Ghana Gold Not Benefiting its people !

You can also view more images of Cape Three Points from the photo gallery of Trinity School.