Paramount Chief of Sanda Loko Chiefdom in the Bombali District, Samura Fombo III and his loyalists in Ward 1 have reportedly rejected a prospective and mining agreement with the shadowing AMR Gold Mining Company.
Sources close to the chiefdom revealed that the agreement, which was signed on behalf of the paramount chief in 2009 by the then Regent Chief, Pa Kamoibai, gives exclusive and prospective mining right to AMR Gold.
A report has it that earlier this year, the Lokos in Ward 1 brought AU Mining Company owned by one Mr. Olegg to prospect and mine gold in the said chiefdom.
Expressing his ordeal and frustration, PC Fombo III revealed that his subjects are totally opposed to the monopoly right given to AMR Gold but want a robust competition as the company is seen by his subjects as a gravy train interested in milking them.
"AMR thinks that all what it takes to mine our gold is to give hefty bribes to officials of the ministry of mines, politicians and their cronies and leave us in poverty," said Pa Santigie Conteh.
This development has led to a complete standoff between AMR Gold and the land owners with the latter distancing itself from an agreement they do not recognize. "This agreement is a novelty to us. We were not consulted and not a party to it," said Idrissa Kamara of Laya Village.
Most of the people this reporter interviewed maintained that they are angry because the past Regent Chief who could not read and write was allegedly tricked to sign the mining agreement by the Paramount Chief of Sella Limba Chiefdom, Kandeh Luseni.
Speaking to this reporter, Abdulai Kanu of Kamalo maintained that the mining agreement between PC Luseni and the management of AMR Gold was done in secrecy. The land owners in the chiefdom claimed that the intervention of the ministry of mines left them suspicious at a recent meeting in Freetown since the ministry failed to seek their interest which prompted them to stage a peaceful protest last week and has accused the civil servants and politicians of trying to bully them to accept the monopoly of AMR in the chiefdom.
"These people think we are fools. We may be illiterate, we are not fools. This AMR company thinks it can bribe its way to mine our gold," Junisa Samura said, noting that they have resolved that the presence of NMJD, Green Scenery, Campaign for Just Mining and the Anti-Corruption Commission must be felt at any future mediatory meeting hosted by the ministry of mines.
The land owners say they want to have everything in black and white ranging from compensation, environment and cooperate social responsibilities.
"We want to put a halt to the odd behaviour of giving us a few thousand Leone," PC Fombo III said.