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12.06.2004 General News

Widow testifies about brutalities

By GNA

Koforidua, June 12, GNA - A widow who appeared before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Friday, told the Commission how she was arrested at the toilet by soldiers at Somanya and brutalized for selling wax prints.

Madam Juliana Klu from Akim Oda, testifying before the Commission said she was at the time an agent of the UAC and GTP who supplied her wax prints that she sold at the Agormanya Market.

She said in February 1982, she had just returned from the funeral of her husband, when she heard an announcement that any person that had money in the fifty cedis domination should send it to the bank and she complied.

Witness said a week later, she was not feeling well and was at that time eight months pregnant, so she administered some medication and went to the toilet when her daughter came to inform her that some people were after her.

Madam Klu said she asked the daughter to go and tell them that she would be with them soon but her daughter came back to tell her that, the people said they were in a hurry so they could not wait but just as she was preparing to come and see them, the people, who she later got to know were soldiers, forced the door of the toilet open, entered and dragged her out of the toilet up to the entrance of her door and showed her a paper indicating that, they had been sent from the Gondar Barracks.

Witness said all this while, she was almost naked and one of the soldiers pointed a gun with a red band at her and told her that they had just killed someone, so it was her time to die.

Madam Klu, who started weeping at this juncture, said upon hearing the word "death", she started to murmur prayers but a soldiers, who saw her lips moving, said she was a witch and that was why she sells quality clothes so they should search her room.

Madam Klu said due to her husband's death, he had not started going to market so she had 26 full pieces of wax prints, which were all taken away by the soldiers and it was a couple who gave her three pieces of wax prints and other materials to sell to enable her to take care of her family.

She said she had to face another harassment from the Market Queen, who claimed that she had not sought permission before coming to sell the clothes as a result of which she was brutalized at the then taxi station for refusing to go to a house called "Batsa House, where market women were taken to be brutalized.

Witness said she was so much traumatized that after the birth of the baby she had a mental disorder and had to roam about while all her belongings were shared among her relatives, who thought that she might never recover her senses.

Another petitioner, Mr Felix Oduro from Asamankese, told the Commission that sometime in 1979, while plying his job as a taxi driver in Accra, he picked two ladies from the Arts Council to Labadi and on the way, he picked a man at Osu, who indicated that he should send him to the Arakan Barracks but he refused.

Witness said the man then agreed to alight at a vantage point and when the ladies got to their destination and paid their fare, the man queried him for allegedly over-charging them but the ladies told him that even if he had overcharged them, they were dashing it to him as Christmas gift since it was getting to the yuletide.

Mr Oduro said after the ladies had left, the man, who was then in mufti, then pulled a gun and ordered him to drive to the Arakan Barracks but when he refused due to the tension in the system at that time, the soldier then shot him but fortunately, the bullet hit him in the back but did not penetrate and fell on the ground.

He said when the soldier realized that he was bleeding; he left him and jumped onto a passing motorbike, which was being ridden by a soldier in uniform.

Witness said he had been traumatized by the incidence and since then had not been working because of ill health. A member of the Commission, Bishop Palmer-Buckle, after examining the scars at the back of the witness, asked him to gather courage and face the future with a thankful heart to God for being alive today to tell his story.

Mr Emmanuel Osei from Nkawkaw told the Commission that in 1979, soldiers seized six million cedis from him at gunpoint just after he had withdrawn it from a bank to purchase two new Benz buses claiming the Government sent them.

Witness said the soldiers dragged him to their barracks and brutalized him and threatened to shoot him.

He said just after he was freed, he made a report to the Police who promised to investigate but till date, nothing had come out of it and prayed the Commission to seek compensation for him since he had been rendered jobless and poor.

Madam Mary Gyan told the Commission that her twin brother, Sgt. Emmanuel Atta was killed at the Police Headquarters in Accra including his brother-in-laws and three other soldiers without trial.

Witness said one morning after Cpl Halidu Giwa's coup attempt in June 1983, there was a radio announcement that all soldiers should report back to work, so the brother, who was at that time on leave and was living with her, complied and left to his station.

She said later, she was informed by the brother's wife that he had been arrested and was in custody at the Nsawam Prisons so she paid him a number of visits until one morning when she was about to visit him, she saw the brother in the company of three other soldiers arriving in her house and she was told that they had escaped following the opening of the cell doors.

Madam Gyan said her brother indicated to her that he needed some money to escape until the country was calm before he would return. Witness who at this point broke down and wept, said the following day, the brother and his friends left after telling her: "Afua, I don't know where I am going but you, my wife and the children are in the hands of God."

Witness said she was told a few days later that her brother was re-arrested with others while trying to cross the border and were in custody at the Police Headquarters and said when she and the wife went to visit him, they could not find them

She said they later heard that some unidentified bodies were in the mortuary of the Police Hospital so they went there and identified him with three of his friends and two brother-in-laws, who were said to have tried to help them cross the border.

Witness said the brother's wife was so traumatized by the deaths that till date, she had never been seen and prayed the Commission that her brother's 14 years entitlements in the army be paid to his two children and aged father, who had not been well since his son's death. Bishop Palmer-Buckle said it was a pity that one family should suffer the loss of three people in that manner and said her tears would go down in history that never again should the Military cause so much pain and disregard the dignity of innocent people in the country. 12 June 04

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