26.04.2004 General News

Witness throws Commission member into tears

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Accra, April 26, GNA- For the first time in the 15-month old hearing of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), a Member of the Commission on Monday broke down and shed tears in the open during evidence of a Witness.
The entire assemblage in the Chamber of the Old Parliament House, including the other Commissioners, the Press, the Commission's Counsels, Interpreter and Witness Mr James Naw Ackah, persons in the Witness Gallery, and the Public Gallery looked on stunned, as the Commissioner, Dr (Mrs) Sylvia Awo Mansa Boye, shed open tears and publicly wiped them. This was when the Witness, a former Member of the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah's Presidential Details Department, who said, he escaped to neighbouring Cote d' Ivoire, but his rented apartment in Kotobabi in Accra, was looted after the February 24 1966 military coup that toppled Dr Nkrumah's government was answering questions from the Commission. As the gathering, especially members of the Press looked on intensely, the Commissioner, who had a few moments earlier bowed her head down, was really shedding tears and the Most Reverend Charles Palmer-Buckle had to provide comfort. NPOL 06 Politics NRC Commissioner 2 Accra The immediate previous Witness, Mr Ahmed Dasana Nantogmah, had told the Commission of how his father, Major Dasana Nantogmah was said to have been gruesomely murdered in the week following the December 31 1981 military coup. The Witness, who was in the Witness seat with a sister, Eliza Zenabu Nantogmah, prayed the Commission to recommend a fitting monument for his father and all other soldiers who died in their attempt to defend the nation against the December 31 1981 Revolution. In tears, he said, the family, was expecting the father who was then in Accra, for the Christmas holidays in 1981, but the father did not turn up until a week later after the December 31 1981 coup, when message came that he was among the soldiers who had been killed at the Air Force Station in Accra for resisting the coup. He said the head of the family said his father's body was bloody and badly mutilated when it was released to the family for burial, adding that records at the Military Records Department, where he did some research could not establish the cause of his father's death. Witness said he also learned from the testimony of Corporal Mathew Adabuga, one of the key architects of the December 31 1981, that some Warrant Officers abducted his father and shot him at the Air Force Station Mr Nantogmah said the nation had failed to recognise his father, and his father's grave at the Osu Military Cemetery was still unmarked. The family had also not received any benefits in respect of his father who worked for 17 years in the Army.

Mr Nantogmah, who said he now works with the Minerals Commission, said it had been his ambition to become a soldier, and was still interested in joining the Army.

He said he bore the Revolution no grudge, but he was disqualified to enlist into the Ghana Armed Forces, although he did very well at an enlistment interview, and where he told the panellists the truth that he was Major Nantogmah's son. Witness said the education of his siblings suffered and his mother had to work extra hard to cater for them.

Members of the Commission were unanimous in expressing sympathy to the Witness and his father over their loss.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice Kweku Amua-Sekyi, said the Commission had evidence from a Witness, a civilian employee of the Ghana Army who said Major Nantogmah was murdered in cold blood, adding that the Witness had said the Major's murder was planned, and was consequently shot from behind in the Air Force Station Guardroom. The Chairman advised Major Nantogmah's son to contact the Commission for the transcript of that evidence. General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a Member of the Commission said: "I want you to feel proud of your father. No regrets at all, he died for the very reason for which he was commissioned. He died defending the Constitution. "We as Commission will take that into very serious consideration. Your father died for a good cause. As Brigadier Major, other officers ran away but he stood firm." Most Rev Palmer-Buckle told the Witness: You're already a soldier. You are a fitting monument in honour of your father and the gallant officers who defended the constitution.

"You can be one of the monuments of your father by beating the path of loyalty, truth, and stand up for it."

Uborr Dalafu Labal, another Commissioner said: "I want to inform you and your immediate family that you are not alone in your grief. You father's life affected a lot of people, probably not only Nanumbas. "I met your father in Secondary School, sometimes in Takoradi and another time in Accra. Many of us regarded your father as our mentor. His loss was a big loss to us. Let this information go down with your mother."

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