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28.05.2004 General News

George Agyekum made me a target - Witness

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Accra, May 28, GNA - Alhaji Sumana Hamani, a Witness told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that former Public Tribunal Chairman, Mr George Agyekum ordered his arrest in 1982 and finally sentenced him to 10 years' imprisonment.

Witness, resident at Obuasi, said soldiers arrested him one night in March 1982 on a false allegation of dealing in gold and later told him that Mr Agyekum had made him a target.

He said the soldiers beat him with their weapons when he could not provide the money they demanded after a search for meat in his fridge and arrested him.

They then went round in a vehicle and bundled nine other people and sent them to a place at Obuasi called Council, and ordered them not to look into one other's face or they would be slapped.

Alhaji Hamani said they were later detained at the Police station for nine days and brought before Mr Agyekum, who he said ordered that 24 of the detainees be sent to the Kumasi 4BN Barracks, adding that they were further detained there for two months and two weeks.

Witness said nine days after he had returned home, the Police re-arrested him and was prosecuted and sentenced to two months and two weeks' imprisonment.

He said he was transferred to the Gondar Barracks in Accra, and picked from the Gondar Barracks cells to face a panel at the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) in Accra.

He said the panel accused him of dealing in gold, and also said he was not a Ghanaian and attempted to deport him, adding that he was later sent to the Ussher Fort Prison.

Witness who said he had been in Ghana from Niger since 1944, said he was accused of being in league with a white man who visited him. He said he was later taken to the Airport in an attempt to deport him, but he stood his grounds against the deportation.

He said he was later sentenced to three years' imprisonment, but Mr Agyekum, who later became Chairman of the Public Tribunal, held a review at Obuasi in the night and gave him seven more years.

Alhaji Hamani said his houses at Ashaiman, Madina and Obuasi had since been confiscated, and added that he was made to pay rent on his own house, which he occupied at Obuasi.

He said his taxicab was also confiscated, and added that nine of his sheep, which were seized were also not returned.

Witness said the education of his children suffered and they dropped out of school.

Another Witness, Mr Yaw Barima, accompanied by his elder brother, Kofi Nantwi, then staying at Mosi Zongo in Kumasi said security personnel subjected them to brutalities in 1982.

He said four armed Soldiers and a Policeman, who said they were Government Officials, stormed their house at night during curfew hours, broke into his room, beat him up and searched the room and seized electrical gadgets including a television set and a sound system.

When his brother heard of it and protested, they broke into his room and beat him with their weapons and sent them to Kumasi.

Mr Barima said a soldier beat them severely and shaved them with broken bottles, leaving permanent scars on their forehead, head, and thighs. He said the soldiers accused them of printing fake currency. He said they later made them appear before a tribunal they had established at the Barracks.

The tribunal ordered the soldiers to return his items, but the soldiers never complied with, neither did they return his taxicab.

Witness said he had problems in his left eye, and out of fear, he fled the town and had since been staying in the village.

He prayed the Commission to help him retrieve his looted items. Commissioner Uborr Dalafu Labal condemned the actions of the soldiers and the policeman, and compared it to armed robbery.

A former Border Guard, Francis Tetteh Odamtten took the Witness seat and said he fled into exile after Lance Corporal Peter Tasiri, and some soldiers stormed the Kulungugu Border Post after holding hostage officers, who were then at Bawku for a meeting in 1982. He said the Army Commander arrived with information that the then Head of State had not ordered that operation.

Witness said Tasiri later arrived and freed a prisoner at Kulungugu Post and seized one million CFA and 400,000 cedis. Witness said he fled to Burkina Faso, and later to Nigeria where he stayed for 11 years.

He said the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) declared him Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) when he returned in 1993, and gave him a cheque of an entitlement of 15,000 cedis after 11 years of service.

He prayed the Commission to recommend his reinstatement.

Corporal (rtd) Sylvester Roland Aneawe, former Guard Commander of the Office of Capt Kojo Tsikata, at the Castle, said he was dismissed in 1989 for sleeping on duty, and prayed the Commission to recommend leniency for him to have his benefits.