General News of Friday, 8 September 2006

Source: Statesman

PNDC, AFRC excesses and de-confiscation ...

Siaw Family commends Govt.
…But says de-confiscation processes must be speeded up

Joseph Apeadu Siaw, eldest son of one of several victims of the excesses of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, Joshua Kwabena Siaw, has commended the government on its policy to return assets unlawfully and arbitrarily confiscated to the State during the June 4, 1979 revolution and the December 31st coup, adding that Government, however, needs to speed up the process of de-confiscation in line not only with the dictates of constitutional rule but also, as a way of assuring investors that Ghana is a safe haven for investment.

Following an announcement made by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joe Ghartey, regarding Government's decision to compensate victims of military regimes and return seized assets to some of them, the family of the late Kwahu business tycoon and philanthropist, Joshua Kwabena Siaw, popularly known as J K Siaw, has therefore commended the government, describing the statement and decision as a positive move to heal the wounds of Ghanaians in a spirit of reconciliation.

Speaking to a cross-section of the press, Joseph Apeadu Siaw stated that the fulfillment of the NPP administration"s pledge to compensate the victims of atrocities meted out by agents of the Rawlings regime, is by far the most positive step taken by the ruling administration to reconcile the nation and appease victims who suffered under the dark periods in the nation’s history.

He stated that most of the victims, like his late father, were painted black, victimised and dehumanised, losing all their hard won reputation and assets, including cash and businesses in the name of the "house cleaning exercise.”

The late J K Siaw, lost his brewery factory, then known as the Tata Brewery Ltd, now in the hands of Ghana Breweries, several mansions, offices and houses, including what now houses the Goil Head Office in Accra as well as other property in various parts of the country.

Capital equipment, plots of land, a fleet of vehicles, bank accounts, physical cash in both local and foreign currencies, gold bars, household valuables and many others were also seized during the period.

Mr Apeadu said his late father, who gave employment to thousands of Ghanaians, and contributed his quota to social services, played a key role in Ghana by assisting the poor in society through scholarship schemes. He also aided the development efforts of the people in Kwahu and Ghana as a whole.

Mr Apeadu lamented at the fact that before passing away, J K Siaw had been branded a nation wrecker, suffering harassment till he fled Ghana into exile, dying almost a pauper in a foreign land.

Touching on Mr Ghartey’s difficulty in identifying the true owners of some of the seized properties probably because some of the victims had died, the younger Siaw says he is ready to offer assistance to the Minister and other authorities concerned in identifying his father’s properties, since he has documented proof of the said properties.

He has therefore urged the government not to relent in its efforts to fulfill the promise which he believes is dear to the heart of many Ghanaians.

The government in separate statements by the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mr Otoo and his successor, Mr Ghartey, stated that it would soon implement the recommendations of the NRC by compensating victims of the military regimes and return to the various families assets that were illegally or arbitrarily seized.

Other victims who lost their investments during those periods included BA Mensah, the late B K Yemo, and a host of other Ghanaian investors.