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25.03.2004 Regional News

Witness wants NRC to help him collect his gratuity

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Sunyani (B/A), March 25, GNA - Nana Oppong Gyabeneh I, Dompemhene of Dormaa-Akwamu in the Dormaa Traditional Area, on Thursday appealed to the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to help him collect his gratuity.

He said he worked for 10 years at Tema Food Complex before his appointment was wrongfully terminated in 1982.

Nana Oppong, known in private life as Mr George Elliot Kwasi Oppong, made the appeal when he appeared before the Commission at its third public sitting in Sunyani.

He said he joined Tema Food Complex in 1971 as an Internal Auditor and was the Senior Marketing Manager when his appointment was terminated.

Nana Oppong said during the PNDC regime, a Commission was set up to investigate the management of Tema Food Complex but no adverse findings were made against the Company.

He said he received a letter terminating his appointment and those of the accountant and another man whose name he could only remember as John.

Nana Oppong said somewhere in 1976 during the Acheampong regime, some soldiers, including one Corporal Boye, who was then attached to the company informed him that one Colonel Grant needed him (petitioner) at the Castle, Osu in Accra.

Nana Oppong said he and Mr. T.A. Ward, the then Accountant of the Complex accompanied the military personnel to Castle to see Col. Grant at the Castle.

Nana Oppong said he and the accountant were asked to wait in a room for along time and only to asked to go away without any interrogation. When questioned by the Commission if he was maltreated he answered in the negative.

Nana Oppong also said during the early days of the PNDC, soldiers at a security barrier near Sunyani stopped the car he and his friend, Mr. Owusu-Acheampong were travelling by to Dormaa.

He said the soldiers search the car and took 80,000 cedis that were on him and the soldiers alleged that they were going to use the money to finance a coup plot against the PNDC government.

Nana Oppong said he and his friend were sent to the military barracks in Sunyani and detained in the guardroom for a week on the instructions of Colonel Akafia, the then Commanding Officer of 3BN. The witness said he and his friend told the soldiers that some of the money was to be used to pay for the cost of repairs on a car they had sent to Kumasi Magazine in the Ashanti Region.

Nana Oppong said when one Mr Frimpong, a CID official, was sent to Kumasi to verify their claim and came back to confirm what they (Nana Oppong and friend) had said they were released.

Another petitioner, Mr. George Kusi, 52, a native of Berekum told the Commission that he was enlisted in the Air Force in 1974 and was stationed in Takoradi during the 31st December 1981 coup as a Sergeant. He said because of pressure on him, sometime after the coup he resigned from the service in 1983.

The former Air Force Sergeant said Squadron Leader Ayiba, the Commanding Officer of the unit at that time also fled to Cote D'Ivoire in the wake of the coup.

Mr. Kusi said he was then the in-charge of "Valuable and Attractive" (V and A) special store of the unit and one-day a military aircraft, Fokker 27 arrived in Takoradi from Accra to collect batteries. "I prepared the necessary vouchers through the new CO but when the store door was opened to collect the items we found that the door had been broken into and almost half of items there were stolen," he said.

The petitioner added that initially, he was suspected to have stolen the items but later the actual culprit, Sgt. Kotonu was arrested. Mr. Kusi said because Squadron Leader Ayiba liked him, some of the soldiers, especially one Sergeant Keteku had planned to put him into trouble and had even branded him as "an enemy of the revolution". Sergeant Keteku even went further to report to the authorities that the former CO (Ayiba) was plotting with me to stage a counter-coup against the PNDC government, he added.

The petitioner said he also heard that Sgt. Kotonu had planned to eliminate him and since then anytime the two of them were on duty together, he never felt easy.

He said such "pressure" on him made him to quit in 1983. Mr. Kusi said before his resignation from the Service he had worked for nine years and quoted his registration number as 174952, adding that he was currently working with ABTS, a timber company in Berekum as a security officer.

He appealed to the Commission to help him to be re-enlisted into the service to serve his remaining six years so he could be entitled to his full gratuity.

The petitioner added that he was paid 20,000 cedis when he resigned in 1983.

Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Erskine, member of the Commission told the petitioner that his decision to re-join the Air Force would be unrealistic in view of his advanced age. The Commissioner wondered where the witness would be placed in terms of rank even if the Commission found it possible to assist him. "You left on your own for whatever reason(s). Do you think it will be realistic for the Air Force to take you back? " Lt-Gen. Erskine asked and advised Mr. Kusi to "make hay" at his new place of work as a security officer.

Mr. Joseph Gampson, a retired Field Assistant Grade One of COCOBOD stationed at Duayaw-Nkwanta, another petitioner, told the Commission he was beaten by soldiers somewhere in July 1979 at a spot near Duayaw-Nkwanta lorry park because of an allegation by some co-workers that he was using working hours to engage in palm-wine tapping, charcoal-burning and insertion of "ghost names" on pay vouchers, among others.

The petitioner mentioned one Lieutenant Dan Kwofie as the officer who supervised his maltreatment by the soldiers.

He said after his beating at Duayaw-Nkwanta he was released only to be re-arrested at another time and detained at the Sunyani Barracks for 52 days during which period he and other arrested people were made to weed on some plots and do menial work at the barracks.

"The maltreatment has caused me visual impairment," Mr. Gampson added.

He denied all the allegations, saying investigations conducted by the soldiers proved that he was only doing his work as a strict Supervisor who did not want to condone and connive with the workers in dubious deals.

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