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14.06.2004 General News

Riad, Baako and Prof Akosa testify at NRC

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Accra, June 14, GNA - Mr Justice Kweku Etru Amua-Sekyi, Chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Monday ordered Mr Riad Hozaifeh, a Witness, out of the Witness seat, at a public hearing of the Commission, in Accra.

Mr Hozaifeh had wanted to go further with his testimony after denying ever filming prisoners being taken from the Ussher Fort Prison in the 1980s, and using a seized car belonging to the Goka Family. Mr Amua-Sekyi said: " Please, Mr Riad, leave the chair", to which Mr Hozaifeh, responded: "Sir, this is unfair".

Mr Hozaifeh then thanked the Chairman and vacated the seat. Mr Hozaifeh, who said he was working with the PNDC at the Office of the President, was at the Commission to cross-examine the Editor of "The Crusading Guide" newspaper, Mr Kweku Baako, Junior.

Mr Baako Jnr, had told the Commission that Mr Hozaifeh had filmed the executions and tortures during the regime of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and also seen him using a seized vehicle belonging to the Goka Family.

He had said the films included the execution of Sarkodie Addo at the Air Force Base and prisoners at the Ussher Fort.

Mr Hozaifeh admitted filming "for the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), certain interrogations and durbars".

He said: "I did film one execution at the Air Force Base", but denied ever filming prisoners at the Ussher Fort Prisons and added that Mr Baako, Jnr. was making untrue allegations about him.

Mr Hozaifeh, who requested to use an ordinary plastic chair instead of the usual big cushioned Witness seat, said he never used the said sporting Chevvy car, with registration number AM 9500 and added that car was rather kept in his custody.

He said he had the key to the car, kept at the State House on the orders of the then Chief of Staff.

He said keeping custody of that car was a bother to him, and after two years, he handed the key over in 1986 to the then Chief of Staff. During the cross-examination, Mr Hozaifeh asked among other things Mr Baako's the year of his birth, whether he knew him and where, whether he (Mr Baako) had ever been charged for subversion.

Responding Mr Baako, who said he was born in 1954 and met Mr Hozaifeh a couple of times in the late 1970s at the house of former President Jerry John Rawlings, when he (President Rawlings) was staying along the Sankara Road.

Mr Baako, who said he attended discotheques, said he had also interacted with Mr Hozaifeh at the then Sydney Touche and Club La Bamba Discos and that he had seen him come to his father at North Labone in the mid 1970s.

Mr Baako said he was arrested on alleged subversions during the era of the PNDC, explaining that what was described as subversion was a counter coup by a group he called MONA's against the PNDC to restore the country to constitutional rule.

To a question from Mr Hozaifeh on why Mr Baako had not petitioned the Commission, Mr Baako replied that it was a matter of conscience, but added he had appeared and facilitated in the work of the Commission. "Why are you interested in the work of the Commission?" Mr Hozaifeh asked.

Mr Baako retorted: "Because I'm a Ghanaian, a citizen interested in the process of national reconciliation, because it is a pillar of our democratic institution."

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosah, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, was another witness of the day.

Professor Akosa sighed and was close to tears as he gave evidence in connection with his late elder brother Mr James Charles Akosah. Witness said his brother was arrested after the June 4 1979 coup, charged with economic sabotage by the then People's Court and incarcerated in the Nsawam Prisons close to a year.

Professor Akosah his brother then had a company called Akosah Agencies, and was the owner of Tip Toe Gardens and said his brother gave him the impression that his arrest was a personality clash between him and Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings.

Flight Lieutenant Rawlings was the Chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, a military regime that came to power in on June 4 1979.

Professor Akosah said after the December 31 1981, his brother and one Major Kwame Asante fled the country on hearing of the coup.

Armed men in Ghana Armed Forces uniform ransacked the office of his brother and seized 17 vehicles from the Tip Toe Gardens.

He said his brother, who returned from exile in 1994, but died later in the year 2000, told him "there was a system that blocked everything he did".

Another Witness, Madam Charity Nuerki Noi, who was in tears, even before she began her evidence, told the Commission that soldiers arrested her on June 15, 1979, with a busload of goods, at the Tema Motorway Roundabout.

Witness said after seizing the vehicle from the driver, the soldier forced out the mate, beat her and the driver with their weapons and took them to the Gondar Barracks.

Witness, said the vehicle contained 370 bundles of fishing nets, 180 towels and 120 bundles of trouser materials.

She said they were later released without the goods. She prayed the Commission to recommend an appropriate compensation for her.

Another Witness, Martin Agbakli -Zakli, a Lawyer, complained against the deportation order slapped against some chiefs and elders of the Akporsor Guan Traditional Area in 1958, in the Volta Region of Ghana.

He named some of those affected as the late Togbe Mawusi II; Kojo Egbenu Afenu; Reuben Yaw Enida; Stephen Kwabena Tsarkpornu and Andrew Anim Nsere.

Witness argued that although the deportation was later revoked, the order damaged the citizenship rights of the affected and the Area. He said until now, there was an erroneous impression that people of the Area were not Ghanaians and as a result there was festering conflict between the Akporsor Guans and Apeso Akans as to who should be the chief of the Akporsor Traditional Area.

This was because a new chief, who was installed after the deportation had refused to give way to the original one, who was deported and whose position was later recognised by the National Redemption Council.

He said until now a number of people in the area had often been challenged, depriving them of their political franchise. Mr Agbakli-Zakli prayed the Commission to recommend a public apology and compensation for the victims of the deportation and their offspring.