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22.04.2004 General News

NRC Commissioner advises witness

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Accra, April 22, GNA - General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a Member of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) has stated that it is going to take the Commission some time to start making its recommendations.

The Commissioner therefore, advised a Witness, Opanin Robert Bediako, 84, from Kwahu Mpraeso, to go back to the law courts to give him authority and protection to enter his cocoa farm, Robert Kwame Bediako and Kwahu Group Farms at Miaso Adabor, near Begoro in the Eastern Region, which, he said, was being occupied by some Fulani men.

The Witness testified on atrocities he suffered following a dispute with one Kwasi Kwakye and Osei Kwasi, over the land, which the cocoa farm was located, and stated that the continued occupation, and possible brutalisation of Fulani men on his farm scared him from entering the farm.

Witness said Kwasi Kwakye and Osei Kwasi engaged the services of the Fulani men, who brutalised his labourers in their cottage on the farm in 1978.

Opanin Bediako said the case went to the then Okyehene, and the then Eastern Regional Commissioner, who advised, to no avail against the harassment by the Fulani men of his labourers.

He said when the case eventually went to court and his opponents realised the case was going against them, they engaged the services of soldiers to arrest and brutalise him.

Witness said one Warrant Officer Nkwantabisa, then at Koforidua, invited him to the Koforidua Central Police Station, from where the soldiers arrested him without any charge nor warrant to the Michelle Camp at Tema and detained him for 10 weeks.

Opanin Bediako said he was at different times beaten severely at the Michele Camp, made to carry heavy stones, and asked to fight with other detainees, adding that the soldiers booted him at the back if he fought with less strength.

Witness said he was later accused of engaging in a struggle with Fulanis, invited to the National Investigations Committee, where he said a gun was pointed into his ears as the panellists queried him. Opanin Bediako said he had been made poor by the event, that also brought problems in his marriage, and added he had not been able to do any meaningful work since then.

He said his farm had been consumed by the bush and prayed the Commission to recommend for him right of entry into the farm and, remove the Fulani people from the farm.

Another Witness, Alexander Ani-Adjei, former Director of Commercial Banking of the defunct Bank for Housing and Construction said he was forcibly retired from his position by the government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) by radio and television announcement and newspaper publications on January 13 1990.

Mr Ani-Adjei said he was retired at the same time with Head of the Engineering Department, before the then government instituted a financial probe, under the chairmanship of one Colonel Quao into a World Bank Project, the Fourth Highway Project.

Witness said he had no letter to the retirement, the reasons for his retirement were not given and his explanation that he was in no way connected with the project, which was under the Engineering Department, was also not taken.

Mr Ani-Adjei said other workers at the Engineering Department, directly connected with the project, were rather interdicted.

He said Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo the Managing Director of the Bank was also transferred to the National Investment Bank.

Mr Osafo-Maafo is now Ghana's Finance Minister.

The Witness said for fear of the then government, Management as a body never discussed the issue nor took it up.

He said although he was retired at 54, he only received the amount paid to the directors, without his other benefits, when the bank was liquidated in the year 2000.

When Mr Daniel Kwarteng, another Witness from Kumasi took the Witness seat, he told the Commission that soldiers stormed his father's store in 1979 after the June 4 1979 coup, and beat his father and took away a quantity of Adinkra royal cloth.

Witness said he made a fruitless attempt to retrieve the cloth, which they took to the Kejetia Police Post.

He said soldier hit his father's eye, and attributed his blindness later to the strike.

Mr Kwarteng said his father could not go back into the business and prayed the Commission to recommend compensation, and retrieve the lost cloth for him.

Madam Victoria Aso Bamfo from Nkawkaw, another Witness said during the era of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council after the June 4 1979 coup, one Inspector Nyame of the Nkawkaw Police, led a combine team of soldiers and policeman to her house and subjected her to brutalities in her home at Nkawkaw.

She said she had known Inspector Nyame for some time and shown him a piece of gold jewellery her late mother bequeathed to her in 1969. Witness said under the command of the Inspector, the team searched her room and forced her to open her wardrobe, took away the jewellery, the 11 half pieces of Dutch prints, and an amount of 540 cedis, 200 of which belonged to her brother.

She said they then bundled her into their vehicle to her store and seized all the goods in the store and the sales of the previous day. Witness said the team did similarly to other stores in the community, and drove her and other victims to the Kwahu Ridge, but had to return to the Nkawkaw Police Station when the Inspector got off the vehicle and never returned.

She said they were placed in the guardroom, and were later taken out and drilled.

Madam Bamfo said she and another woman in the guardroom were stripped naked, taken outside and made to slap each other, made to frog jump and roll for a number of times in the muddy soil on that rainy day. She said she was only released when, out of desperation, she asked the soldiers to shoot her to end it all.

She said aside the physical scars, the young men in the vicinity taunted her for the ordeal she suffered.

The education of her children also suffered, she said, and prayed the Commission to recommend an appropriate compensation. 22 April 04