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15.05.2004 General News

"Soldiers Consistently molested Us"-traders

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Bolgatanga, May 15, GNA - A number of traders from Namoo, a Border Village in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region, who testified before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) sitting in Bolgatanga on Friday told the Commission that military personnel, militia and Border Guards in 1982 consistently molested them, while they engaged in legitimate businesses.

The day's sitting which was purposely to hear complainants from Namoo, witnessed a revelation of crimes and atrocities against the traders for no apparent charge against them. Most of the traders who mainly traded in cereals and grains had their wares either intercepted or seized on the way, while transporting them from Techiman, a central market in Brong Ahafo Region or seized, while they were being sold at the Namoo market.

The witnesses told the Commission that armed military personnel consistently invaded the market and seized wares and sold at 'control prices', arrested traders and molested and killed some, where there were protests and carried the unsold goods away. Madam Ibrahim Zenabu, now a food seller at the Namoo market told the Commission that she traded in cereals and grains and in 1982 CDRs seized four bags of groundnuts and another bags of maize to Zuarungu, near Bolgatanga and threatened her not to follow up for the goods.

Mr. Azuure Abasiga, now unemployed, and a cola seller in 1982 complained that at one of the invasions by PDCs, four and a half bags of cola belonging to him were seized from his store. He said a watchman he had employed to guard the store was assaulted and he died in the process. He added that his children hinted him about the incident and that they wanted to arrest him so he sought refuge in Burkina Faso.

Another witness, Atanga Agongo, mentioned one Billy and Bighop Akolgo, as "big men" at the time who led a combined force of military personnel and PDCs in 1982 to seize 85 bags of maize he had just brought to Namoo from Techiman and three bags of rice. Narrating the incident to the Commission, Mr. Agongo indicated that the forces surrounded the market and began torturing anybody they came across without any provocation and seized a lot of items belonging to other people which they carried in about four trucks and drove away to Zuarungu. He said in another encounter, 45 bags of maize he had bought from Techiman was intercepted and seized in Bolgatanga and taken to the Regional Administration, adding that he could not retrieve a single bag.

Other traders, Madams Azara Ibrahim, Sakesena Ayanyire, Ruth Anamoo and Abesaare Anamoo, all complained about the seizure of their goods, which were either sold at control prices or taken away. The witnesses told the Commission that the ordeal that they went through in the hands of their perpetrators brought untold hardship to them and their families. They further said they could not resuscitate their businesses after the incident and appealed to the Commission to bring their perpetrators to book and compensate them.

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