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12.07.2004 General News

I was forced to buy a house - Assasie-Gyimah

By GNA

Accra, July 12, GNA - Naval Captain Baafour Assassie-Gyimah, on Monday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that he was forced to buy a Unibrik housing unit at Adenta to raise funds in support of providing shelter to an anti-coup military squad.

Witness, who is also former National Security Co-ordinator, named other officers then in the security apparatus who were also either allocated houses or plots in that offer and admitted that the offer was not advertised for the general public to bid.

The officers were one Kwasivi Dergbor, who was allocated one of the houses, Lt Col B. F. Kusi, Mr Peter Nanfuri, then boss of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Mr Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, who were all allocated a house each, and Mr George Agyekum, then Tribunal Chairman, was allocated a plot of land.

Giving evidence at an NRC public hearing in Accra, Baafour Assasie-Gyimah said they were put under pressure to buy the houses because the area was least developed and interest in the houses was very low.

He said each of the beneficiaries paid 40 per cent of the price, but did not state the price.

Baafour Assasie-Gyimah's evidence was in reaction to evidence by Dr Mathew Narh Tetteh, who had alleged the seizure of the Unibrik housing units at Dansoman and Adenta, both in Accra, during the erstwhile regime the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

Baafour Assasie-Gyimah denied the seizure of the Dansoman and Adenta units.

Dr Tetteh had stated that those houses, and Unibrik chemicals which had been abandoned, belonged to him as the owner of the Uniclean Limited and Unibrik Co-ordinating Committee, and the Unibrik Technology.

Baafour Assasie-Gyimah, who also identified himself as the Chairman of the Unibrik Co-ordinating Committee, said Dr Tetteh had no claim to the houses, because they were developed with a government loan secured from Germany under an agreement with the Department of Rural Housing and Cottage Industries.

He said Dr Tetteh had also refused to register and patent the Unibrik Technology with an amount of 50,000 pounds Government gave to him and prayed the Commission to help the Government of Ghana to retrieve that money.

Dr Tetteh had objected to Baafour Assassie-Gyimah cross-examining him because he did not know him and had not made any statements against him. The cross-examination, however, proceeded when Baafour Assasie-Gyimah responded that he was appearing as Chairman of the Unibrik Co-ordinating Committee.

Dr Tetteh alleged during the cross-examination that Baafour Assasie-Gyimah had at sometime ago been paid to assassinate him when attempts to hijack his Unibrik Technology failed.

Lawyer Bram Labi, appearing together with his client Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, MP for Ningo Prampram, said his client would not give evidence. Mr Mensah, former Mayor of Accra, was at the Commission to cross-examine Mr George Philip Okine, a former official of the Accra Metropolitan Authority.

Mr Okine had told the Commission that soldiers told him in 1987 that Mr Mensah ordered his arrest to the Castle guardroom where he was also shaved.

Mr Okine maintained that he suspected Mr Mensah was behind his arrest because the soldiers said so, and for the four days that he was not at post Mr Mensah, whom he said he had been on good relations with, never bothered to enquire about him.

Lawyer Labi denied any link of Mr Mensah with the arrest and alleged torture of Mr Okine.

He said Mr Okine had mentioned Mr Mensah out of spite and that Mr Mensah owed him no apology.

Another Witness, Madam Akua Bonsu, from Antoa Krobo appeared with her two grown up children, Addai Bonsu and Akwasi Appiah.

She said in 1982, one Nana Boakye, an uncle, now deceased, who belonged to their Aduana Clan seized a piece of land on which they grew food stuff, and gave it out to be used as government land.

At one time when they went to the farm the late Nana Boakye led a group of some men of the Civil Defence Organisation to arrests them to the Antoa Zongo Police Station and gave them 30 lashes each.

Witness stated that the piece of land had now been developed into a plantation, and in the hands of the Town Development Committee. Meanwhile, the Commission would hold its last hearing for the 18-month period tomorrow, Tuesday July 13, 2004. I regret joining the Ghana Air Force Accra, July 12, GNA - Flying Officer Ebenezer Odoi, Secretary to the Pre-Trial Investigations Team (PIT) during the AFRC regime on Monday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that he had regretted joining the Ghana Air Force, especially with the harrowing experience he went through during the executions in 1979.

He said he later returned from overseas in 1992 to realise that he had been given the name "Angel of Death" because as the most junior officer in the AFRC he was asked to bring the Generals and the army officers from the Nsawam prisons to the Gondar Barracks for interrogation after which they were executed.

Flying Officer Odoi, who is now working with the Cocoa Licensing Business Company, said he was an incorruptible and a fine Christian gentleman who was just performing his duties, adding that he never tortured anybody as he had been painted before the commission. "Anybody who mentioned my name before this commission in connection with torture would be a big liar."

The witness, who was subpoenaed to the Commission said as secretary to the PIT, he was given a dossier on people who were to appear based on which he prepared the cases for them and presented them to the court adding that he rather tried his best to save some of the officers from the junior ranks who threatened to execute them.

He expressed regret that in spite of his efforts to save most of the officers, those who appeared before the Commission rather accused him of torturing them.

Flying Officer Odoi said he was aware that the junior ranks tortured the senior officers before they brought them to the PIT adding that nobody was tortured in the presence of the members of the PIT although occasionally a junior may slap an officer when he felt the officer was not speaking the truth.

With reference to Squadron Leader Tagoe, who had previously alleged that he (Odoi) had slapped him when he appeared before the PIT, Witness said he never slapped any body but remembered he (Tagoe) and Colonel Abaka Jackson were brought before the panel after they had been severely manhandled.

He said Squadron Leader Tagoe was one of the hated officers by the junior ranks, adding that if he and the other members of the PIT had left him for the junior officers they would have torn him into pieces. He said between 100 and 120 people appeared before the PIT for interrogations adding that he would not remember every single person, however, he remembered a Standard Board boss was pricked with a pin when he appeared before it while Colonel Quarshie had his shirt torn.

Witness said it was not true that suspects were asked to crawl into the Kangaroo Court at the Peduase Lodge as alleged, adding also that he did not seize the property belonging to the late Siaw as alleged.

Flying Officer Odoi said the other ranks organised the June 4 uprising due to their feeling of neglect by the senior officers most of whose conducts were not in conformity with the military code, adding that they accused them of misappropriation of funds to enrich themselves while a General's wife could even slap a warrant officer.

He said it was a terrible experience with the whole officer corps under siege adding " even Rawlings had his own problems."

Witness said the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) later imprisoned him for 18 months, adding that they shuttled him between Nsawam and the Ussher Fort.

When General Erskine, Member of the Commission asked the Witness how he felt when he saw the Generals executed, he said soldiers do not feel the way civilians do when they see people executed due to their training.

He said he was 26 years at the time of the uprising and was a bit more level headed before his years adding that he was due for promotion as a Flight Lieutenant but they refused to give it to him while he was in jail.

Witness said he never applauded the celebration of June 4 adding "we must let sleeping dogs lie.'' Ex-WO Mary Teye apologises to persons she had mistreated Accra, July 12, GNA - Ex-Warrant Officer Mary Teye, who was alleged to have slapped and seized a number of items from traders during the rule of the National Liberation Council (NLC) on Monday apologised to all those she had treated badly and asked for forgiveness. She said she joined the Army in 1966 and two years later was attached to the Military Police, adding that she was young by then and thought she was rather performing her duties in the service of her country.

W.O. Teye was giving evidence before the National Reconciliation Commission after she had cross-examined one Mr. Amoabeng who had earlier alleged that she seized his roofing sheets and slapped him when he appeared before the Pre-Trial Investigations Team.

"I do really slap people when they resist arrest and those I thought were not speaking the truth."

She said she did not remember arresting Mr. Amoabeng adding that another Military woman had used her name to seize things from people. The Witness said in spite of that she arrested a lot of people including Madam Ama Busia and the wives of Kotei and Amedume adding that she might have wronged Mr. Amoabeng during her duties and knelt before him to render her apology.

She said she had been praying to God for forgiveness since then.

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