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15.10.2003 General News

English tutor tells how he was brutalised on Legon Campus

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Accra, Oct 15, GNA- There were more of interesting testimonies at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) hearings on Wednesday despite the low public patronage in recent times.

A witness, Mr James Ariel Ringo Djarbeng, an English and Literature Tutor at the Achimota College, said his recitation of Lord Tennyson, even when soaked in blood could not evoke the sympathy of the Police who had come to quell a students' demonstration in January 1978 at the Legon campus.

The students were demonstrating against the policies of then UNIGOV government of General Kutu Acheampong.

Mr Djarbeng said after the Police had brutalised him, he was sent in a makeshift ambulance to the Legon Hospital, and was admitted for a week. On his return from the Hospital, his room had been vandalised; his stereo system, clothing and, books stolen.

The Witness said as a result of the beatings, he had been having pains at his joints during cold weather.

Mr Djarbeng advised political leaders to learn to accept defeat, so that soldiers would not take up arms to topple civilian governments.

Another witness, Madam Abiba Frafra who spoke Twi through an interpreter, but was able to quote the Service number of her husband Lance Corporal Alex Apana, who in 1984, was abducted from bed in the night by some men in military uniform.

Madam Frafra, then staying at Arakan Barracks, and nursing a two-week old baby, went looking for her husband at 37 Military Mortuary, but could not find his body there even if he were dead.

She proceeded to the Korle Bu Hospital Mortuary, where the attendant, who identified himself as a friend of Apana, told her that soldiers had brought a coffin the previous night and taken the dead body of her husband away.

Madam Frafra said on her return from Tamale to inform her husband's kin of the incident, she found that her room, which she locked, had been broken into, and she and her husband's personal effects stolen.

She said she had seven children with her husband, and their education suffered as a result of the incident.

The Military, she said, had not paid her any compensation, neither did they take any interest in her plight.

Commissioner General Alexander Erskine suggested to Madam Frafra to see the adjutant or the Commanding Officer of Burma Camp, and report the matter to him for compensation and benefits.

Mr Gabriel Kwasi Ansah, another Witness, told the Commission of the his arrest by soldiers and the then People's Defence Committee (PDC) in 1982 at Kejetia, Kumasi, where he selling drinkables and was accused of selling above government "controlled price" although no approved price list had been published by then.

He said the soldiers sold the items and went away with the proceeds. Mr Ansah said the soldiers did not listen to his pleas and arrested him and his boy to the 4BN Barracks, and beat them "mercilessly". He said they were later transferred to a senior Military Officer, who ordered their detention for 11 days in the guardroom and asked to report thereafter.

Witness said when he reported the next day, he was rather taken to a panel of three soldiers and the then Regional Secretary, Mr Kwame Dwemoh Kessie, and sentenced to a fine of 300,000 cedis, and ordered to pay the amount into Account No 48 of the Ghana Commercial Bank.

He said after paying the fine and showing the receipt to the soldiers, they asked him to suspend his drinks' business for the next three months.

Mr Ansah said he went bankrupt and had to sell his house to settle a loan he took from the then Bank for Housing and Construction for the business.

Witness said he gave a gift of a goat to the soldiers to express his appreciation for not giving him a term of sentence like other traders who were arrested.

He prayed that the Commission would recommend for his resettlement.

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