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24.03.2004 Regional News

Witness tells his story at the NRC

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Sunyani, March 24, GNA- Mallam Moro Nuri, a native of Timie in the Bawku District of Upper East region told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) how he was allegedly forced by armed soldiers to sell his boys' quarters at Fiapre, near Sunyani to defray a debt of 170,000 cedis he owed one Mr. Akoto, a business partner in Kumasi in Ashanti Region.

Mallam Nuri, resident in Sunyani said during the June 4, 1979 Uprising armed soldiers invaded his shop in Sunyani and accused him of practising "Kalabule".

The soldiers assaulted him and took him to the Liberation Barracks unconscious.

Nuri who could not give the number of the soldiers recalled that one of them later asked him whether he was the one called Moro Nuri to which he answered in affirmative.

"One of them told me that they were at my store because of a report they received that I was practicing "Kalabule" ".

He said before he could say anything the other soldiers started slapping him until he became unconscious but got revived at the barracks where he was taken to.

Witness said it was at the barracks that he learnt that the soldiers who came to his store sold some of the materials and took some away.

Mallam Nuri told the Commission in an answer to a question that the soldiers did not give him the proceeds of the goods they sold to the general public.

He said the soldiers continued brutalizing him at the barracks but was released to report again the next morning and when he did he was given a portion of an area to weed from morning till noon. My lunch was only a ball of kenkey and before I was released to report again the following morning, I received another round of beatings, witness added.

Even though I was asked to report again on the following day I did not honour that invitation in view of the earlier bitter experience. He said one day he was at home when one Marfo, a store boy of Mr. Akoto came to Sunyani to inform him that Mr. Akoto had sent him to collect the money he owed him, being the cost of materials he (Akoto) had supplied him.

"I told him of my plight regarding the forced sale and confiscation of materials in my store, which had rendered me incapable of fulfilling our previous agreement".

Witness said Marfo returned to Kumasi but surprisingly sometime later three soldiers came to him with a message that Mr. Akoto owed a bank and that he needed the money he owed him (Akoto) to defray the loan.

Mallam Nuri said the soldiers suggested that in his own interest he should sell his house so he could raise the money to be given to Mr. Akoto in Kumasi.

He said the soldiers warned him that his failure to do so would land him at the barracks.

Witness said out of fear he agreed and started making contacts to get somebody to buy the house in order to raise the money for the soldiers to be sent to Mr. Akoto.

He said the soldiers accompanied him on all his rounds while he tried to get someone to buy the house, but as he could not succeed he told the soldiers that perhaps their presence was scaring potential buyers so pleaded with them to sit under a tree somewhere to enable him to approach one Karim to see if he would show interest.

I quoted 200,000 cedis as the selling price of the boy's quarters but Karim could offer 160,000 cedis, which I was compelled to agree to in view of the pressure on me and gave the money to the soldiers. Answering a question by the Commission, Mallam Nuri said he did not know the names of the soldiers but could only identify one of them because of the role the soldier played during his maltreatment.

Witness who said he was formerly a Christian but now a converted Muslim told the Commission that he did not have any place to stay but was later accommodated by the mother of one Reverend Father Gyimah. He said on three occasions that soldiers searched his room for alleged hoarded goods they found nothing.

Witness said a sympathizer advised him to leave the Reverend Father's mother's house and if possible leave Sunyani to reside somewhere to escape from the soldiers so that they could not brutalize him again.

Mallam Nuri said he took the advice and later contacted another friend, Noah who helped him to re-locate at Bamboi in the Northern Region, where lived for a year without his family adding that the first six months was really hard as he was jobless.

He undertook some menial jobs six months' later but left Bamboi to settle at Ayawoya where he engaged in charcoal-burning business. Witness said in view of the hardship that they were going through; his wife sent all their five children to his mother at Timie but after sometime his mother died.

From there the children were transferred to the wife's mother or his mother-in-law but "my mother-in-law also passed away after sometime, leaving the children in the hands of my brother-in-law".

Mallam Nuri said when the children were with the brother-in-law one of them fell sick and died on the way to hospital.

He said he was currently living as a pauper because of the treatment meted out to him appealed to the Commission to help resettle him so that he could help cater for the remaining children.

Another witness, Mr. Stephen Antwi, a former employee of Audit Service who said he was employed as a messenger but rose through the ranks to the position of Auditing Clerk wanted the Commission to recommend for him to reinstated since he was wrongfully dismissed. Mr. Antwi said even though he was dismissed together with a colleague, the latter petitioned the Office of the National Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and was re-instated but his petition to the commission was stopped by a letter from the Attorney-General's Department ordering the discontinuation of the case. As many as 61 witnesses will testify in Sunyani during the five-day sitting of the Commission whose members are all present except Maulvi Wahab Adam, who is performing an equally important assignment in Accra.

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