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17.05.2004 Regional News

"Ex-Sergeant Tasiru burnt my truck" Witness tells NRC

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Bolgatanga, May 17 GNA - A member of the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Ex-Sergeant Peter Tasiru and a group of soldiers have been accused of burning a cargo truck belonging to one Alhaji Ibrahim Sumbeida of Bawku in the Upper East Region. Alhaji Sumbeida, who testified before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) in Bolgatanga, said he used to hire out his truck to Traders doing weekly business between Bawku and Widana, near the Ghana-Togo border.

He said during one of these trips in April 1982, Ex-Sergeant Tasiru ordered that the vehicle, a Leyland truck with registration number AT 611, be driven to Pusiga Police Station.

Explaining further, Alhaji Sumbeida said when the Traders were driven to Pusiga, Ex-Sergeant Tasiru instructed his men to open the truck. In the process, he said, the soldiers shot indiscriminately to scare away the people.

Ex-Sergeant Tasiru then ordered that petrol be poured on the truck and set ablaze.

Alhaji Sumbeida told the NRC that but for the timely intervention of the Police Station Officer, who forcibly opened the truck's door to bring out the driver, he would have been burnt too.

He said the one, who hired the truck had refused to carry bags of salt belonging to one Bawku Trader, who could not pay the fare charged, but rather picked two bags of salt belonging to another Trader. He said the aggrieved Trader went to inform Ex-Sergeant Tasiru at Widana that the truck was carrying smuggled goods.

Alhaji Sumbeida said at a meeting with the Bawku District Police Commander, Ex-Sergeant Tasiru could not give any reason for his action and, even though, he apologized to him he rejected the apology. Witness said the action of Tasiru and his colleagues led to the collapse of his business. He could, therefore, not send his children to school. He appealed to the Commission to investigate the matter and compensate him.

One Mr Gilbert Atanga also appeared before the NRC on behalf of his deceased relatives. He was there to give an account of the nightmare his late father Akazabre Atanga and an uncle, Peter Agandaa, natives of Kandiga in the Kassena-Nankana District, went through in the hands of the erstwhile Border Guards in November 1979.

He said though he was only eight years at that time, he could still remember the brutalities meted out to his parents when two Border Guards came to molest traders at the Kandiga Market.

He said the Para-Military Personnel seized the wares of traders and sold them at controlled prices.

Witness said the Border Guards came into their home and questioned his father on how he got his money.

Mr Atanga explained that his father showed his income tax certificates to the Guards, but they ignored them and brutalized him. He said his father and two elder brothers had their hair shaved with broken bottles. They were then ordered to carry heavy boulders that were lying in front of their house.

Mr Atanga said the Guards tortured his mother and stepmother too. He told the Commission that the Border Guards also looted bags of millet and other foodstuff from their home.

According to him they brought the stocks from the room and sold it at "control price and villagers from surrounding villages and Burkinabes bought them".

Witness said the Guards claimed they were taking orders from the then Head of State to carry out the atrocities.

Mr Atanga said the Guards took away a sack containing 50-cedi notes and headed to his uncle's petroleum depot. He said his uncle was not only brutalized but his fuel was seized and sold at controlled price. The action, he said, affected his parents and his uncle died through heart attack.

"My father later had a stroke and also died afterwards", he said. Mr Atanga said the death of his benefactors brought untold hardships to the family and prevented most of the children from continuing with their education.

He said he had earlier wanted to enrol into the Army to avenge, but realized that the true Army was a disciplined institution where such things were not entertained so he dropped the idea and went into teaching.

He appealed to the Commission to compensate the family.

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