Six years after the gruesome lynching to death of one the nation’s promising young military officers, Captain Maxwell Mahama, the country is beginning to appreciate the circumstances surrounding his murder.
But more striking is the revelation that, government had attempted a cover up by faking the dismissal of a key appointee, but later gave him a mouth watering deal at a strategic state institution to shut him up.
A report authored by Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, a former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and onetime chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), has confirmed the allegations that Major Mahama, died while providing security to a galamsey site belonging to C&J Aleska, who are clients of Gabby Asare-Otchere Darko and sometimes goes by the name Heritage Mining.
This is not the first time that doubts have been casted on the story churn out by the Akufo-Addo government, the Ghana Armed Forces and sections of the Ghanaian media that, Major Mahama, who was later given a posthumous promotion to the rank of an Army Captain, was mistaken for an armed robber and killed by the people of Denkyira Obuasi.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Upper Denkyira West District, Daniel Appianing, under whose watch the heinous crime occurred, was the first to dispute the robbery claims, but was immediately shutdown by the likes of the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, who asked him to keep quiet, if he had nothing important to say about the gruesome murder.
The DCE, who was the head of the District Security Council (DISEC) and anti-galamsey fighter, had in May 2017, revealed that, his people were enraged at the soldiers preventing them from their galamsey activities, yet protecting Chinese nationals, who are in the area carrying out the illegal business.
Shortly after his revelation, President Nana Akufo-Addo, interdicted Daniel Appianing and eventually terminated his appointment as DCE, but on the blindside of Ghanaians, the government which was angry at his utterance, sent him to Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) as its Deputy Director General in-charge of Operations and Technical, where he has been cooling off from the rough and tumble of the Ghanaian politics.
On the website of the GMA, the ex-DCE’s profile was given as “Mr Daniel Appianin is an astute public servant with over fourteen years of experience. He worked in the Ghana Education service, tutoring Economics and Business Management in various senior High schools in the country and rose through the ranks to the position of the Assistant Director 1 in the service.
“He also served as a District Chief Executive in the Upper Denkyira West District Assembly in the Central region before his appointment as a deputy Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority.
“Mr Daniel Appianin is an energetic, self-motivated person, with the willingness to learn and take up new challenges. He also has excellent and good interpersonal skills.
“Mr Daniel Appianin hails from Abora, near Dunkwa on-Offin in the Central Region of Ghana.
He was educated at the University of Cape Coast where he obtained a B. Ed degree in Social Sciences (Economics, Management and Education).
Daniel Appianing’s shocking revelation and a near-justification of the gruesome murder, raised doubts about the earlier story that the folks in the town, mistook Captain Mahama, a nephew of ex-President John Mahama, for an armed robber, because he had a pistol on him while jogging at Denkyira Obuasi around 8;30 am, on Monday, 29 May 2017.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s report, titled “Report on The Work of The IMCIM and the Way Forward,” was written and presented to the president in 2021, but leaked to the media. He indicated in his report that Major Mahama was manning a mining site owned by C&J Aleska at Denkyira Obuasi prior to his death.
According to him, Major Mahama, was killed while “providing security for Donald Entsuah and his C&J Aleska.”
In his words, “Many Ghanaians will remember the C&J Aleska, a mining company co-owned by Donald Entsuah and a Canadian National, Simon Ayman that caused a lot of destruction in the town known as Denkyira Oduase, near Diaso.
“During the last NDC regime, several mining companies signed MOUs with the Ghana Army that regulated the supply of security services to the mining companies. At one point, the soldiers at the site of C&J Aleska were under the command of Captain Mahama. This fine army man was killed whilst providing security for Donald Entsuah and his C&J Aleska…,” he added.
Captain Maxwell Mahama of the 5 Battalion Infantry was lynched while he was said to be jogging at dawn. He was stoned and burnt by the youth of the area.
Speaking on Accra-based Adom FM on Tuesday 30th May 2017, a day after the incident, Mr Appianing, said even though the Chinese nationals have the license to prospect for gold in the area, they were rather engaging in illegal mining.
“There is a large number of military personnel protecting the Chinese that the lynched soldier is alleged to be part of it, in fact he is said to be the leader…am shocked they are not briefing you very well, but rather claiming they are here to fight galamseyers…,” he said.
He further asked persons, who doubt his claim to contact the police and Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) commanders in his district for confirmation.
“As I speak, there are reports that the BNI is calling on the military to help stop it, because it is creating disaffection between the residents and the military…,” he said.
But the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, quickly jumped into the fray, asking the newly appointed DCE to shut up on the matter.
According to him, it is unfortunate for the DCE, to run commentary on the sad issue, when he has little or no knowledge about the unfortunate death of the young officer.
“I don’t know who this DCE is, but he should not speak on this again, because he does not understand the issue.
I beg him he should not speak on this matter again if he doesn’t know details of the issue being discussed. He should keep quiet. I will reach out to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to talk to him” the Defence Minister said.
“I will urge all government communicators, including the DCE to clarify issues with the ministry before going public with issues concerning the army. He’s new on the job, if he doesn’t know what is going on, he should not speak”, he said.
He further charged the DCE to present the said BNI reports which he claims to have to the District Security Committee (DISEC) for forwarding to Accra.
The Minister’s comment was in reaction to the DCE’s claim that, the late Captain Mahama, as the head of a military detachment in the area, was rather protecting a group of Chinese nationals illegally mining gold in the Upper Wassa Forest.
Mr Nitiwul, will have none of the accusation and denied the claims by the DCE. He said the late Captain Mahama was in the region because he was assigned by his superiors. He said there are 21mining sites in the country where the army has been assigned to give protection to legal miners.
According to him, the deceased is part of Operation Halt 2, an anti-Galamsey activity, which is being undertaken by the military.
The Ghana Armed Forces, has since confirmed the incident and said investigations are ongoing.
Scores of armed military personnel, have been deployed to Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region, as a search is mounted for the residents who lynched the Captain.
According to close friends, Captain Mahama was due for promotion to Major as he has completed his exams.
Many Ghanaians, have expressed disgust over his killing. He is from ex-President John Mahama’s family in Bole.
In a facebook post, the former president said “My heart goes out to my brother, Capt. Chubby Adam Mahama (Rtd), on the murder of his son, Capt. Maxwell Mahama. My condolences also go to the wife, his young children and to his mother on the loss of her only son”.
Meanwhile, the Police in the Denkyira Obuasi district, where residents lynched Captain Mahama are accusing the military of hampering investigations into the incident and demanding their withdrawal from the town.
District Police Commander, ASP Osei-Adu Agyemang, had told Joy News the presence of the military, has forced the residents to flee their homes, which is thwarting police efforts at getting witnesses to give them credible information to what led to the death of the officer.
“Our fears now are the soldiers storming Denkyira Obuasi and most of the people leaving town. It will take time for police to take the possible witnesses to help us speed up investigations,” he said.
The Commander said investigations, have been halted, because there are no witnesses to speak to.
According to him, on Tuesday morning the police tried to make contacts “but we were not successful as they were told that most of the youth were informed last night that the military will be deployed to town”.
A high-level delegation led by the Army Chief of Staff is in the town on a fact-finding mission following the murder.
The District Police Commander, ASP Osei-Adu Agyemang said they are looking for the Assemblyman to get more answers as he told them the officer pulled a gun on him and other residents, which was why he rushed to the police station to lodge a complaint.
Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul says government will investigate thoroughly the killing, which he describes as weird.
“The circumstances under which this officer was murdered callously has not yet been established so I will urge that we don’t draw conclusions until a thorough investigation has taken place”.
He said the circumstance surrounding the killing is weird because the deceased was armed.
“If it was the normal Ghanaian way of shouting ‘julor’ [thief] then straight away the officer would have wasted some people if he knew they would kill him.
“It is clear the way he was murdered; the villagers might not have raised the thief syndrome of shouting. They may have hit him without him knowing what their intentions were,” the Minister said.
According to him, in order to prevent any reprisal attack, the military high command upon his advice moved two officers and 35 men to join the platoon to carry out the investigations.
But, ASP Agyemang believes, “if the military moves out and allow investigations to go on, the inhabitants will come back and the police will get into contact with possible witnesses to continue the investigations.
In a related development, a security analyst at Head of Faculty of Academic Research (FAR) the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre has cast doubt on the claim of mistaken identity for which reason the residents decided to lynch the deceased.
Dr. Kwesi Anning told Joy News he wants the investigators to delve deeper as the individual murdered reflects the escalation of what he terms as a crisis.
“Even more disturbing is the willingness of the unseen hands and forces behind the criminality that tie in to bigger organised crime in West Africa,” he said.
Also, Members of Parliament are calling for speedy investigations into Capt. Mahama’s murder. The MPs have condemned the killing and want the perpetrators to be brought to book.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the scandals contained in a report by a former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation on galamsey.
The report by the heart surgeon who is also the former chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) points to violations of fundamental human rights, alleged corrupt practices, issues of conflict of interest and abuse of public office by certain public officials and others.
The petition filed by lawyers for the MP dated April 25, 2023, stated “…the following findings of corruption, conflict of interest and abuse of public office were made: “On Monday 11th January 2021, the task force entered a concession at a location called Bepotenten we had been monitoring for some times. Residents in the area complained about harassment by Chinese miners.
The damage to the forest reserve was unimaginable. Big economic trees had been felled and dumped into muddy water bodies to rot. Huge pits were scattered over dozens of acres land. Near cocoa farms had been destroyed. Seven excavators were seized, As usual socalled big men started calling.
First was Mr. Charles Owusu, who claimed ownership of the concession and of the excavators. This individual happens to be the Operations Manager of the Forestry Commission and there he was mining in a forest reserve without any permit and destroying forests, farm lands, water bodies and indeed the entire biodiversity.”