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General News of Wednesday, 4 June 2003

Source: gna

My fianc? was killed by a soldier - Witness

Madam Agnes Okyere testified at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) public hearing on Wednesday and wailed throughout her narration.

Now a petty trader, doctors have told Madam Agnes not to do any strenuous work. She should also stop walking on her legs for long hours, for she has constant pain in her hips when she did so.

Madam Okyere said she was engaged to Kuta's father, Ahmed, in 1983, and was one month pregnant when Ahmed met his untimely death on 20 May of that year.

According to Madam Okyere, she and Ahmed and some friends with whom he had returned from the United States of America were driving at Nima in Accra, their driver blew the horn to alert a vehicle in front of them to move in a proper direction.

She said the vehicle stopped and suddenly, four soldiers came out of the vehicle and ordered them out. One of the soldiers asked the driver why he should blow the horn. A scuffle ensued as he tried to explain.

When she tried to make peace between them, one of the soldiers kicked her hips, and she fell down unconscious. When Ahmed wanted to make peace, another soldier removed a pistol and shot him dead. In his last words before death, Madam Okyere said, Ahmed pleaded with her not to terminate the pregnancy.

After the death of her would-be husband, Madam Okyere said her parents who are Christians, drove her away from home for carrying the baby of Ahmed, a Muslim. She said she stayed with friends, but life became very difficult for her until the child was born.

She contemplated suicide when the hardship became too tough, but was rescued by an elderly man when she went to the beach to get herself drowned. Madam Okyere said upon reports from family friends to her parents of her condition, they took her back.

Later the family of her late fianc? accepted to bear part of cost of caring for her daughter, but they would pay Kuta's fees for her to buy her books. That continued till she finished the JSS. She said she did petty trading to support her daughter.

She said she was sick during the registration and she could not pay her daughter's examination fees. Her daughter's school allowed her to write her examination but she would not get her results slip until she paid her fees. Huum Ahmed Kuta, is 19 years old.

She completed Junior Secondary School (JSS) last year but she cannot get her Basic Education Examination Certificate (BECE) results until she clears arrears of 350,000 cedis being school and examination fees.

Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a member of the Commission said she would discuss with the Methodist Church to see what it could do to help Madam Okyere, who said she worshipped at the Akweteman Methodist Church in Accra.

Commissioner Christian Appiagyei asked Madam Okyere to furnish the Commission with a documentation of the medical recommendation not to do any strenuous working.

In another narration, Madam Comfort Yeboah from Akyem Oda Otwereso, prayed Commission to release to her a house at Tema belonging to her late husband, W. O. Martin Bediako Frimpong, a former Military Intelligence Officer.

She told the Commission that her husband was preparing for retirement when the 31 December 1981 coup erupted. She said following the coup, soldiers came to their residence and damaged anything they saw in the house.

The fired guns till the evening. She became afraid and sent her children to her mother in the village. She said her husband was not coming home, so she went to his hometown, Kwasi Buokrom in the Brong Ahafo Region to look for him.

She said she later succeeded in sending her husband to Buokrom after which his relatives managed to send him to take refuge in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire. She visited her husband in that country where he learned that Lance Corporal Halidu Giwa who had broken jail and attempted a coup d'etat had also taken refuge in a refugee camp nearby.

Madam Yeboah said she told her husband to be wary of Giwa. Her husband said he was not comfortable staying in the refugee camp and asked her to bring his travelling document to enable him to move from the camp possibly to another country.

He also told her that the American Ambassador, in whose house he used to work, had invited him and he would need the papers to make the journey. Madam Yeboah said as she was preparing to send the papers, she heard that her husband had been arrested with Giwa and other soldiers.

She learned later from a friend to her husband several soldiers including Giwa who were arrested had been executed. However, her husband claimed when they got to the border that he was an American. He was sent to the Castle and his papers and nationality were verified.

She said she later had information that her husband was killed at the Castle without any charges or trial. At this point Madam Yeboah looked up and burst into tears. Dr Araba Sefa Dede, a clinical psychologist and head of the Counselling Department of the Commission, moved to her side and gave her comfort.

The tears of Madam Yeboah continued making Commission Chairman Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi to ask counsel to suspend questions. Madam Yeboah said she had neither a brother nor sister and she had to send six children to the village where she was engaged in farming.

Her mother-in-law was traumatized by the death of her husband and was paralysed for eight years before she died. She said the military authorities paid her ?4.2m as death gratuity and she has since been given ?100,000.

She said one of her children sold newspapers to help to educate four of her children to the secondary school. One of the children has joined the Ghana Armed Forces. The Commission asked Madam Yeboah to furnish it with the papers on the house.