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04.05.2004 General News

NRC holds maiden public hearing at Wa

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Wa, May 4, GNA - A retired teacher at Lisa in the Lawra District on Tuesday told the National Reconciliation Commission at its maiden sitting at Wa that his 50-year old uncle, Tommy Kunnuo, a farmer was shot dead at Hamile by soldiers in March 1983 on suspicion that he was a smuggler.

He had left Nandom for Hamile with two bowls of sheanuts for sale to enable him to buy some soap for his wife who had delivered only to meet his untimely death.

The Commission, which will hold three public hearings in Wa is expected to hear petitions from 36 witnesses who had experienced or had knowledge of various human rights abuses suffered under unconstitutional regimes.

All the Commissioners with the exception of Bishop Charles Palmer-Buckle and Maulvi Abdul Wahab Adam were present. Mr Kuuteghe, who was the sixth witness for the day, told the Commision that that day, his late Uncle informed him, when he was then the Circuit Education Officer for Nandom he was leaving for Hamile to look for soap for his wife.

Late that day, he was informed that soldiers had killed somebody and his body was being displayed in Nandom, while they invited unsuspecting people to come and buy "beef".

People who rushed to buy the "beef" took to their heels when they reached it was a human corpse which they had displayed. He said, at first he could not recognise him as his lifeless body was drenched with blood.

According to him, the soldiers later took the body to the Nandom Naa's palace. There, they requested the late Chief Naa Polkuu Konkuu Chiir, a former PNDC member to inform the deceased's family at Tuopare to collect the body at the Nandom hospital's mortuary. The soldiers however, warned them not to perform his funeral after burial, the witness said.

Led by counsel for the Commission, he said his late uncle was killed at the Ghana side of the border and he could not imagine how carrying two bowls of sheanuts could be tantamount to smuggling.

Answering a question, witness said he could only mention one Corporal Iddrisu Badunbie as one of the soldiers who were operating in the Nandom area at the time.

He told the Commission that the family was ready to forgive those who perpetrated that dastardly act against one of their members because, "I in person, if I do not forgive, I cannot say the Lord's prayer," which calls for forgiveness of trespasses.

He pleaded with the Commission to recommend some form of compensation for the widow and her children.

Mt Christian Appiah-Agyei, a member of the Commission=B8 commended the witness for having the courage to come forward to convey his traumatic experience to the Commission.

"Revolutions are meant to change the old order for the benefit of the people", he noted.

Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a Commissioner in her remarks, said it was an un Ghanaian act to kill a human being and describe his body as "beef" while his family members looked on.

Mr Edward Kaleonaa Tendau, a farmer at Sankana narrated how his late father Joseph Tendau was picked up by security forces and detained for 19 months in Wa prisons without charge or trial during the Nkrumah regime. He said when his father was released they could not recognise him, and they believed that he was maltreated whilst in detention.

Another witness, Mr Topie Zakaria, an employee of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) who hails from Kaleo also told the Commission that his late father, Yorkin Teuri, a United Party activist was also detained for 19 months in police cells without trial. He said three years after his release, he lost his sight.

In all, ten witnesses appeared before the Commission to give account of human rights abuses they or their relations suffered during the first day of the hearings.

Madam Martha Teronwee and Mr Baavi Kontomo both from Jirapa had similar stories to tell.

Madam Teronwee said she and her husband owned a shop in the Jirapa market, where they sold assorted goods and provisions.

She said after June four, soldiers came and ransacked the shop and sold all the goods to the public at "control prices."

She said the proceeds from the sale of the goods were not paid to them. This made them bankrupt and they left for southern Ghana to undertake farming where the husband died about 10 years ago. She appealed to the Commission for help to support their children's education.

A witness, Mr Domo Wanye said a Nissan Puck-Up vehicle which he bought at 45,000 cedis in early 1979 was seized by soldiers with the reason that the one who sold the car had had his assets confiscated. He told the Commission that when he saw the vehicle after the AFRC had handed over to the Liman regime, only its chassis and engine block were left.

He called on the Commission to compensate him for the loses since he was now living in penny.

Alhaji Adamu Iddrisu Kabanye complained to the Commission about the seizure of his land by Mr Seidu Brimah, former District Secretary for Wa, which he handed over to the 31st December Movement to construct a Day Care Centre.

The Commission asked for documents covering the said land. Before the hearings began, the Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice K.E. Amuah-Sekyi said the Commission decided to move to the region to save petitioners time and resources they would expend in travelling to Tamale or Accra to have their petitions heard. 4 May 04

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