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18.05.2004 General News

"Soldier Removed My Teeth With Pliers"

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Bolgatanga, May 18, GNA - A retired agriculturist, Mr. Agibasse Anabila on Saturday said soldiers heartlessly removed three of his upper teeth with pliers in 1979, because of an inscription on his tractor that says "I thank God".

Testifying before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) in Bolgatanga, Mr. Anabila, a native of Zuarungu, near Bolgatanga said he retired from the Ministry of Agriculture in 1966 and went into commercial farming.

Witness said on the 12th of June 1979, he was going to the farm at Karimenga near the West Mamprusi District in the Northern Region, when 15 soldiers led by one sergeant Amidu stopped him to find out why he had inscribed on his tractor, "I Thank God".

He said when he answered yes, Sergeant Amidu ordered him to drive to the Regional Administration. "When we got there, Staff Sergeant Mumuni, who led a torture squad asked me to show documents for the tractor, which I bought at an auction sale at the Ministry of Agriculture".

Witness said, Staff Sergeant Mumuni seized the documents, slapped him and added him to the other civilians who were already there. " They asked me to roll on stone chips on my back, a drill they called 'one way' detained me for two days and while in detention they called us out every thirty minutes to undergo more drills".

Mr. Anabila said at one of the drills, the soldiers pulled off three of his upper teeth with pliers but he was able to retrieve two of them, which he showed to the Commission members. "They told me to produce that God I had inscribed on my tractor before they could release the tractor to me and because I could not produce God my tractor was not given back to me".

Another witness, William Apambilla, an agent of S.D. Karam in Bolgatanga told the Commission that he and other business colleagues demonstrated against the 1981 takeover by the PNDC and presented a petition to the Regional Administration.

He said on 15th March 1982, there were attempts by soldiers to arrest him and his colleagues, including Madam Hilda Salifu, popularly called Madam Bolco, but they sought refuge at Burkina Faso. He added that luck run out on his side when in 1984 during Captain Thomas Sankara's coup he was arrested by the Burkinabe authorities.

Mr. Ampambilla said he was expelled from Burkina Faso to Togo and returned to the country in 1985 only to be told that his assets had been confiscated to the state.

He said properties seized include a 24-room compound house at Zebilla in the Bawku West District, which was given to the then Border Guards, a petrol tanker and a car. He added that, while away in asylum, soldiers broke into his shop and took away everything.

The witness said his car was given to him without an engine, which he declined to take back. " The tanker was not given back to me, I heard it got burnt while the regional administration was using it and my house was given back to me in a deplorable state", he added.

He said the ordeal he went through broke up his family " My second wife left me, my children could not get the education I dreamed of giving them, today I am unemployed and people call me names". Mr. Apambilla therefore appealed to the Commission to resettle him by compensating him adequately " I further want to appeal to the Commission to help my son who has just graduated from the university to get job in order to take care of me".

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