19.05.2004 Regional News

Witness gives account of how soldiers molested him

19.05.2004 LISTEN

Tamale, May 19, GNA- Mr Wumbei Alhassan, a former driver of the Regional Chairman of the People's National Party (PNP) told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) in Tamale on Tuesday, how he was molested by soldiers during the 1981 revolution.

He said he was in the house one day when he heard an announcement on the radio that Dr Hilla Limann had been overthrown and that all Regional Executive Members of the party should report at the police station. He said on hearing the announcement, Alhaji Kpabia-Madugu Iddrisu, the then Regional PNP Chairman fled the country and not quite long, some soldiers came and arrested him and took him to the Kamina Barracks for interrogation.

"At the Kamina Barracks, they told me that I knew the whereabouts of the Regional Chairman and that of his property, but I denied", witness said.

He said the soldiers then subjected him to severe beatings after which they detained him for nine days and fed him on gari. Mr Alhassan said the molestation was so severe that on the ninth day, he had no choice but to lead the soldiers to Alhaji Iddrisu's farm where they took his farm equipment and machinery.

He said from the farm, he again led the soldiers to Alhaji Iddrisu's residence and also showed them five houses belonging to him. Witness said still under pressure from the soldiers, he also led them to Alhaji Iddrisu's kraal, which contained many cows.

He said after he had shown all the property to the soldiers, he was released the next day but was asked to report to the police every day, which he did on two occasions.

Mr Alhassan said when he was released and went home, he found that all his wives had deserted the house and all the rooms had been broken into and his roofing sheets stolen.

He said before he was detained, one of his wives had given birth to twins but during his detention one of them died.

Asked whether he knew those who collected his roofing sheets, he said he suspected the soldiers.

Mr Alhassan said: "Since that time, life has not been easy. All my investments have not been fruitful and my family and I have been struggling with life".

He said he had not been able to educate his children and pleaded with the Commission to come to his aid.

Mr Justice K.E.Amua-Sekyi, Chairman of the Commission, sympathized with Mr Alhassan and said it was unfortunate that he had been subjected to such inhuman treatment.

Another petitioner, Mr Eddy-Cocra Ziblim Abu, a former commander of the Farmers' Brigade at Damongo, told the Commission how soldiers took away his two cars and other property in 1966.

He said he was in the house when he heard on the radio that Dr Kwame Nkrumah had been overthrown and those officers with the Farmers' Brigade should report to the police station.

He said he reported at the Tamale Police Station where he was detained but later bundled into a military truck and taken away to the Usher Fort Prisons in Accra.

Witness said when he came home after his release he discovered that all his property including domestic animals had been stolen.

He said: "My lord, my opel car was stolen but was later seen being driven by a soldier in town".

He said he finally settled as a farmer after his first bitter experience during the 1966 coup.

Mr Abu told the Commission that he later joined the Progress Party in 1969 but when the government of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia was overthrown; he was detained in Tamale for nine months before he was released.

He said: "When I returned home, I saw no property in the house, and my wives had also abandoned me".

Bishop Charles Palmer-Buckle a member of the Commission sympathised with Mr Abu saying he had suffered for working diligently for the nation.

Madam Saibu Talhatu, a resident of Walewale in the West Mamprusi District and now a grains seller said in 1979, soldiers evacuated 100 bags of shea-nut she and her father had stockpiled to the Northern Regional offices of the defunct Cocoa Marketing Board and that no money was paid to them.

She said: "The soldiers who were armed did not only evacuate the sheanuts, they also molested my father, ordering the old man to run while they followed him with guns"

Another petitioner, Mr Imoro Salifu, who wept publicly and had to be consoled before he was able to speak, recounted how soldiers burned down his timber warehouse in 1979.

He said he was at home one night when somebody ran in and told him that soldiers had set ablaze his warehouse destroying various species of wood parked in the warehouse.

Mr Salifu said he became a victim of circumstance when soldiers arrested him together with some people who had fought with them at the "Sakasaka" filling station in Tamale and taken to the Kamina Barracks.

He said he was released the following day "but the soldiers came back to the next morning to ask me to show them the houses of those who fought with them".

Asked about his feelings towards soldiers, Mr Salifu told the Commission that he had forgiven them and bore no ill feelings against them.

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