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Regional News | Mar 27, 2004

Dompemhene appeals to NRC

GNA

Sunyani (B/A), March 27, 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 after working for 10 years at Tema Food Complex before he was wrongfully terminated in 1982.

Nana Oppong, known in private life as Mr. George Elliot Kwasi Oppong, was giving his side of the case at the Commission hearing in Sunyani.

The petitioner 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 somewhere in 1976, during the Acheampong regime he was in his office when some soldiers, including one Corporal Boye, who was then attached to the Complex entered and informed him that one Colonel Grant needed him at the Castle, Osu in Accra.

He said he went with the soldiers, accompanied by Mr. T.A. Ward, then Accountant of the Complex, to Col. Grant at the Castle but was asked to wait in a room till 7 pm when they were asked to go home. No reason was assigned for the invitation.

When questioned by the Commission if he was maltreated he answered in the negative.

Nana Oppong said in the early days of the PNDC he was travelling to Dormaa together with one Mr. Owusu-Acheampong, a friend, when as they got to a security barrier near Sunyani, soldiers stopped their car and in a search the soldiers found 80,000 cedis on him.

He said the soldiers, who claimed they suspected that he and his friend were going to use the money to plot a coup against the PNDC Government, sent them to the barracks in Sunyani and detained them in a guardroom for a week on the instructions of Colonel Akafia, the then Commanding Officer of 3BN.

Witness said during interrogation, they told the soldiers part 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.

A CID personnel, one Mr. Frimpong was then dispatched to Kumasi to verify their claim and came back to confirm what they said so they were released.

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.

He said it was therefore a surprise to him when he received a letter terminating his appointment together with the Accountant, Mr. Ward and another person whose name he could only remember as John. Witness said he later made to appear before a vetting committee for possessing the 80,000 cedis because it was against the PNDC law for an individual to own more than 50,000 cedis in one's bank account. He said he was however cleared but later when he approached the management of Food Complex for his gratuity he was asked to obtain a letter from the vetting committee to prove his innocence of the allegation before they could pay me.

Nana Oppong said he followed up to the Committee at the Old Parliament House in Accra and met one Mr. Glover who promised to write to that effect "but up to date no letter has been written" and his gratuity had also not been paid.

He appealed to the Commission to assist him to collect his entitlement.

Asked by Dr (Mrs.) Sylvia Boye, a member of the Commission, whether he had collected his Social Security pension benefits, the petitioner replied in the affirmative.

He could not tell exactly how much he ought to collect as his gratuity "as the company's Collective Agreement was silent on the figure, save that a worker with 10 years service qualified for a gratuity".

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr. K. Amua-Sekyi advised the petitioner to contact his former employers to get a copy of the Conditions of Service to enable the Commission to help him to pursue the matter.

Mr. George Kusi, 52, another witness and a native of Berekum told the Commission that he was enlisted in the Ghana Air Force in 1974 and was stationed in Takoradi, as a sergeant during the 31st December 1981 coup.

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 person 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 Commanding Officer but when the store door was opened for the items we found that the door had been broken into and almost half of the items there were stolen", he said.

Witness said initially, he was suspected to have stolen the items but later the culprit Sergeant Kotonu, was arrested. Mr. Kusi said 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", because he the witness was in the good books of the Commanding Officer.

Sergeant Keteku even went further to report to the authorities that the former Commanding Officer Ayiba was plotting with me to stage a counter-coup against the PNDC government, he said. He 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 he quit the service in 1983. Mr. Kusi said before his resignation from the Service, he had worked for nine years and quoted his registration number to the Commission.

He appealed to the Commission to help him to be re-enlisted into the service to serve his remaining six years in order to collect his full gratuity.

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

Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Erskine, a member of the Commission told the petitioner that his decision to re-join the Air Force would be unrealistic in view of his 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. 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 I of COCOBOD stationed at Duayaw-Nkwanta, also told his story that he was severely 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.

Witness 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 he and other arrested people were made to weed on some plots and do menial work at the barracks.

Witness said the maltreatment has caused his visual impairment. He said 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 in any dubious deals with the workers.

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