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10.09.2003 General News

I paid 500,000 cedis to CVC panel member - Witness

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Kumasi, Sept. 10, GNA - A witness has told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that he paid a bribe of 500,000 cedis in 1982 to a panel member of the then Citizens Vetting Committee (CVC) to stop persistent harassment by the Committee.

Mr Emmanuel Mensah-Tabri, a Sunyani-registered chemical seller, said he paid the money on demand by the panel member who at the time was a national service person on the committee.

Witness, who could not remember the name of the person he bribed, said the CVC ceased pestering him after he parted with the amount. He was giving evidence at the on-going public hearing of the NRC in Kumasi on Wednesday.

Mr Mensah-Tabri said his problems started in June 1979 when soldiers looted his chemical shop at Sunyani and forced him to go into exile.

He said one Alice, a sales girl he had then employed, was taken away to the military barracks and detained.

Alice later got married to a soldier at the barracks. Witness told the Commission that he returned from exile in Nigeria in 1982 to re-start his chemical selling business.

Mr Mensah-Tabri said one day, there was an announcement on the radio that he should appear before the CVC to declare his assets and explain how he came by those assets.

"I did appear before the committee and submitted my tax clearance certificate and provided all other information demanded by the committee.

They will, however, not let me have my peace and kept asking me to come before them from time to time". Mr Mensah-Tabri said it was during this period that the panel member approached him and sold the idea to him to use money to influence the committee.

According to the witness, the panel member told him that if he did not pay the 500,000 cedis, he could be fined not less than three million cedis by the CVC.

A Commissioner, General Emmanuel Erskine (rtd), reminded Mr Mensah-Tabri that his inability to give the name of the alleged bribe taker was not helping the commission to get to the truth and correct the wrongs of the past.

Another witness, Kwasi Tua-Yeboah, a farmer at Yaakrom, near Dormaa-Ahenkro in Brong-Ahafo, narrated the callous murder of his younger brother, Kofi Amponsah, also a farmer, by one Lemombo Frafra, a Border Guard in 1982.

He said his late brother was shot and killed in front of his room at Yaakrom by Frafra.

Tua-Yeboah said there was a football match between Yaakrom and Kofiasua, a nearby community and that during the course of the match, there was a misunderstanding among the players and this degenerated into a fight.

The Border Guards, who were stationed at Yaakrom and had gone to watch the match, arrested the players and sent them to the Border Guard Station.

He said Amponsah at the time had gone to his farm and on his return he decided to look for his two-year-old son who was not in the house. The search led him to the Border Guards Station where a big crowd had gathered, owing to the confusion of the friendly football match. Amponsah saw the boy there, held his hand and as he tried to take him away, one of the Border Guards, Kwaku Mireku, slapped him. Amponsah hit back, sending Mireku sprawling on the ground, he said, adding that the guards went to the aid of their colleague and attacked Amponsah.

Witness said the people gathered there, however, rescued him and he later went home with the child, Evans Agyei. On that same day at about 2200 hrs, the guards, armed with rifles surrounded Amponsah's house and shot him dead in cool blood. Tua-Yeboah is asking the Commission to assist cater for the formal education of his late brother's child, who had just completed junior secondary school. Soldiers gunned down my brother and four others Kumasi, Sept. 10, GNA - A group of soldiers in 1983 gunned down five people, including a pregnant woman near Dunkwa-On-Offin where they had gone on a day's patrol to drive out 'galamsey' operators in the Subin Gold Mine concession, Mr Emmanuel Sarkodie-Addo, a witness, told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) in Kumasi on Wednesday. Mr Sarkodie-Addo said his brother was one of the victims.

He said he had gone to the bush to tap palm wine with his brother who was then an assistant manager at the Awaso Bauxite Company. He said his late brother had joined him at his 'Nimpa Ne Kro' village with the family to spend his annual leave when the incident happened.

"It was one morning in June 1983 when together, we went to the bush where I was then tapping palm wine. This was in a mining area of the company."

He said his brother had gone a distance from where he was. "...All of a sudden, I heard three gun shots, followed by a cry from his brother, demanding why he was being killed."

Mr Sarkodie-Addo said he became terrified and could not go near the scene to offer any help to his brother.

He said he dashed to the mine where the Head of the Mines Security, one Mr Asabre confirmed to him that soldiers were on patrol in the area. Witness said it was at the mortuary that he saw bodies of four other people killed by the soldiers. "Their bodies were wrapped in cocoa sacks."

Mr Sarkodie-Addo said the death of his brother had brought untold hardships on the family and pleaded with the Commission to provide some support for the family.

His evidence was corroborated by Madam Akua Konama, a farmer at Asante-Bekwai whose son, Kofi Acheampong was among those killed by the soldiers.

She wants the NRC to help fund the education of a boy her son left behind.

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