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22.06.2004 General News

My husband was shot in cold blood- Witness

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Accra, June 22, GNA - Madam Alice Adwubi, a Witness at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Wednesday said a soldier shot her husband in September 1982 at a village near Kofieponkor in the Western Region.

The Witness said her husband, Stevenson Kwame Appiah had gone to plead with the soldier, one Sgt. Opoku to release two young relations whom the soldier had arrested, but the soldier arrested him and later shot him when he learned that those he arrested had escaped.

Madam Adwubi, also called Ama Manu, said the soldier had arrested the two young men when he found a BF soap tablet and some batteries they were carrying to their cottage on them.

Witness, who said she was then nursing a 10-day old baby, said her husband had made friends with soldiers, who then led a team to bring "essential commodities" like soap, kerosene, fish and cutlasses in exchange for farm produce in the surrounding villages. She said the late Appiah, even helped the soldier on his rounds whenever he was around with his team, and had even preserved some harvested bunches of plantain as gift for him.

Madam Adwubi said as her husband pleaded for the release of his relatives, Sgt Opoku grew wild when information came that the young men whom he had arrested had escaped.

A scuffle ensued when Sergeant Opoku fired a warning shot, threatening to shoot Appiah because of the escape of the men he had arrested. Witness said, one Kofi Sabi, who had reported the arrest of the young men to her husband narrated the account of the shooting to her. She said after allowing her husband to say his last prayers, the soldier fired into Appiah's stomach, and fired more shots into his thighs, even though, his intestines were then gushing out. She said her husband died at Asempanaeye as she was being transported to the hospital.

Witness said the Asemapanaeye Police issued a permit for the body to be transported to Berekum, their hometown for burial. She said she left the village to Berekum, and added that it was a very difficult task taking care single-handedly of her two kids and so their education was affected in their later years.

She prayed the Commission to recommend an appropriate compensation and help them to be gainfully employed.

General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a Member of the Commission, described the said Sgt Opoku, formerly of the 2BN in Takoradi, as a murderer, and warned anyone who kept his company to be wary of him. He said Sergeant Opoku did not fear God, because after allowing Mr Appiah to pray, he fired him.

"If he goes to church his Parish Priest must pray for him, and all the church must pray for him. He is a murderer and criminal", General Erskine said.

Another Commissioner, Dr Sylvia Boye, said Sgt Opoku, wherever he was must bow down and in his conscience know that he was a murderer. Professor Abena Dolphyne, another Commissioner remarked: "This is about the worst case of murder we've heard."

In a comment the Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, another Commissioner, called for an examination of the [mental] equilibrium of applicants into the Army.

He told the family of the late Appiah: "I can only ask you to forgive. Hold on to God. Pray to God for him. It is hard; but this is the only way to heal yourself and this country."

Another Witness, Mr Peter Alex Kwasi Oppon, former proprietor of Pakus Lodge and Caroselle Night Club, both in Takoradi, compared coup makers to armed robbers, who pounced on the country, removed the government and destroyed the economy.

He said as result of the attack on his person and business, after coups of 1979 and 1981, he had health problems and his business went downhill.

Witness said soldiers stormed the Pakus Lodge a few weeks after the June 4 1979 coup, bundled him into a military vehicle and sent him to face a panel of 12 officers at the Takoradi Air Force Station.

The panel was not satisfied with his answers and suspected that he was withholding the names of other people to whom he distributed drinks. Witness said he was taken to the guardroom, and added that just as he was about to enter the guardroom he saw about 500 soldiers, who exclaimed if some "meat or fish" had been brought.

He said the soldiers beat him and he had a cut on the head, and he was later detained in the guardroom for three days and was released, probably on the orders of. Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings, whom he said was said to have been to the Barracks.

Mr Oppon said he was taken the next day to the Apremdo Barracks to face another panel, but the panel released him when a woman, whom he met there confessed that she was the one who had been secretly taking supply of drinks from an employee of Mr Oppon, adding that the soldiers gave the woman 48 lashes.

He said after his release he nearly had a stroke and had since been on medication.

Mr Oppon said, "after the second coming of Rawlings", in 1982, soldiers stormed and stopped a band from playing in his Caroselle Night Club.

One Sergeant Owusu Ansah prevented him from entering the Night Club, when he went there to verify the situation. The Sergeant used a jack knife and deflated all the tyres of his car, and as he tried to explain why he had rationed drinks in the nightclub soldiers beat him.

Witness said the soldiers asked him to write his will, in anticipation of execution before they took him to the guardroom, where he said he spent three days, and was released after his son-in-law had paid a bribe of 25,000 cedis.

Mr Oppon said he learnt that the soldiers were on a vendetta for the killing of one of their colleagues. Mr Oppon prayed the Commission to recommend an appropriate compensation in the form of capital or credit for him.