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01.07.2004 General News

Soldiers Demolish Private Property

By The Chronicle

The old days of military oppression resurfaced in Kasoa two weeks ago when soldiers allegedly attacked caretakers at gunpoint, raided their properties in a building they were guarding and pulled down the building with explosives, believed to be dynamite.

The soldiers, who numbered about 15, were allegedly led by Sergeant Erasmus Obeng and Corporal Kwao from the 49 Engineers Regiment, were fully armed with AK 47s. They drove out all the security men guarding the properties of an estate developing company, Kosbe City Limited in the night, in order to make their action successful.

The properties were worth about ¢85 million included roofing sheets, building tiles, cables, set of office furniture, a water reservoir, tinted windows and electrical gadgets.

The Chronicle learnt that prior to the incident; these same soldiers had been arrested for removing all the signposts of the company, claiming that the military was to use the premises of Kosbe City Limited for shooting exercises.

Narrating the incident to The Chronicle, the Chief Executive of Kosbe City Limited, Mr. John Dela Ampah, said he bought the land measuring 59.97 acres on June 6, 1998 from the chief of Opeikuma, Nana John Kojo Amokwandoh, for the purpose of estate developing.

He said he was not able to start work immediately after he bought the land because a company, the Granite and Marble Stone Company, which was quarrying stones on the land had given him shares in their proceeds from the land.

He noted that due to some problems he encountered with Granite and Marble Stone Company, he decided to begin his project by first putting up an office on the land.

He said one day he was on the site when the chiefs of Ofankor delegated some messengers to inform him that part of the land belonged to them.

Mr. Ampah stated that because of his experience as an estate developer, he did thorough investigations at the Lands Commission where he gained the assurance with documented proof that he had bought the land from the rightful owners, the Opeikuma Kumbe family.

He said in order to avoid land litigation, he approached the chiefs of Ofankor for an amicable solution since his source of electricity was from their community.

He said one day on his way from the palace of the Ofankor chief, he met eight soldiers in uniform, who informed him that they also owned 10 plots of the land.

He assured them that since they were serving the nation, he would do them a favour by giving them part of the land to build a place to lay their heads, but not because they owned part of the land as they claimed.

Mr. Ampah said about a week later, Sgt. Erasmus Obeng and Corporal Kwao together with other soldiers informed him that the whole land would be used by the government compulsorily for military exercises.

He said in his absence, the soldiers threatened the workers to leave the site in 24 hours or else if any of them was hurt by gunshots from their shooting exercise, the person could not hold them responsible.

He recollected that the following day after the soldiers who were numbered about 15 had come to the premises to remind the workers of the deadline he fortunately met them and queried them on whether the exercise was private or official and they told him it was official.

He said he quickly dashed to the Military Police administration to verify what the soldiers were claiming but the officers denied any knowledge of the shooting exercise and advised that whenever he had a hint about their appearance, he should report them to the military police so that they could lay ambush and cause their arrest.

On his way from the Military Police administration, he received a call from one of his workers that the soldiers had come to their premises and damaged all his sign posts. He rushed to report the case at the Kasoa Police station where a Criminal Investigations Department officer, Mr. Ohemeng, was asked to escort him to the site.

Mr. Ampah said on their way to the site they met the soldiers in about four private vehicles loaded with the signposts.

He said he became furious with the soldiers and started shouting at them. Two of the soldiers pleaded with him in undertones that they were only carrying out the orders of Sgt. Obeng and that if they were reported they would be dismissed since the exercise was unofficial.

He said on their way to the police station, two of the vehicles carrying most of the soldiers diverted from the route and sped off leaving the remaining two cars, which included one that carried the signposts and Mr. Ohemeng and the one that was occupied by Sgt Obeng and Corporal Kwao.

When they got to the police station instead of the car being driven by Sgt Obeng turning into the police station it turned and headed towards Kasoa Zongo. Yet he was able to arrest both military personnel to the police station.

Mr. Ampah observed the soldiers were subsequently bailed. While police investigations were going on, he was informed by the CID that he could pursue a court case against the suspects but he had to travel outside the country.

On his arrival, he was informed by his caretakers, Philip and Morro, that the same soldiers who demolished the signposts had attacked them and pulled down his furnished office.

When Mr. Ohemeng of the Kasoa Police station was contacted, he confirmed the report, however, he refused to comment on it.

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