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Opinions of Saturday, 24 April 2004

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

A letter to the National Reconciliation Commission.

Four months ago, I received a letter from Mawuli Nyatuame, an old-time friend , a veterinary officer at Yendi , who wanted to know the truth about a story narrated by Kofi Yeboah-Agyeman, a journalist, at the National Reconciliation hearing, about his ordeal during the PNDC/NDC era.

Through that letter, Mawuli gave a full account of what Yeboah-Agyeman claimed was another example of a "crime against humanity". Also, your name was mentioned as having first hand information on how Yeboah-Agyeman was mishandled by state security and intelligence service agents. Is this story true? Mawuli asked.

On April 20th 2004, another story credited to the Ghana News Agency, quoted the National Reconciliation Commission appealing to the media and general public to locate a soldier nicknamed "killer", who brutally assaulted and killed people at Tarkwa , Aboso, and the Bogoso area in the 1980s. These killings were part of a bogus revolutionary scheme to transform/reverse the so-called social, moral, and economic decadence ..

Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, Catholic Bishop of Koforidua Diocese, a member of the Commission has also been quoted as saying : " the Commission is putting together bits and pieces of information on the atrocities committed by the said "killer", the situation on the ground , and the extent of the brutalities in the Western Region in those times".

To say that Bishop Palmer- Buckle is a "Man of God" is an understatement, likened to asking whether Jesus Christ was spiritually powerful?

During that "era of madness", a catholic religious "Brother" was kidnaped and killed at Weija, near Accra. The original target was Bishop Palmer-Buckle who also wears a beard, the same way as the religious "brother", a matter of mistaken identity.

What God has ordained, no man can change the course. Bishop Palmer-Buckle was then the acting editor of the "Standard", the mouthpiece of the Catholic Church in Ghana which was also critical of bad governments and de facto military regimes.

No military regime/government should succeed in Africa, they peddle evil.

Yes, Mawuli. It is true , that Kofi Yeboah-Agyeman was maltreated at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) headquarters in Accra. I was asked to follow-up, his kidnap at the West African Examination Council (WEAC) head office in Accra, and was among the first people who met him at the BNI gate.

Never in the history of any country should a state security apparatus be used against the very people they have to protect. Yeboah-Agyeman suffered for no reason. For this reason, if his ordeal merits any compensation/apology, then he deserves one.

Yes.In the 1980s, I was in secondary school at Tarkwa, when the mere mention of the name -"killer" was a death warrant. The first time I saw "killer" was when Lance Corporal Mustapha Mohammed, then a military operation laison in the Tarkwa area, addressed students at my alma-mater, urging us to form People?s Defence Committees (PDCs) on campus.

"Killer? was a friendly soldier, but trigger-happy. He visited our campus frequently, and is remembered for his famous order to a student nicknamed "Listen while you choooo", -"Make you apologize to your master" - referring to an incident when the student exchanged words with the headmaster, Mr.R.T.Sackey, at the assembly hall.

But in town, the name "killer? was a source of fear for the entire Tarkwa township. He assaults and kills people with ease. Simply put, "killer" was on the loose. I pray that the National Reconciliation Commissioners visit the old mining shaft near the Goldfields bungalows in Tarkwa to see at first hand , the remains of people who were killed and dumped there. Their crime - being successful businessmen and women, or watching "killer" pass in front of their stores.

That was the absurdity which characterized the revolutionary days Tarkwa and surrounding towns, of uncontrollable armed men who presented themselves as "saviors", and yet, unleashed brutality and sorrow to people who were so vulnerable, unarmed, and trying to survive through commercial ventures.

Illegal small scale miners were also arrested and killed without trial, thanks to "killer" and his cohorts, some of whom are still alive and free.

In 1985, friends who knew "killer?s" evil expedition in the Western Region told me, he became mad, and later died at his hometown. But in 1987, I saw him boarding a bus at the Takoradi- Cape-Coast station near the Zenith area in Takoradi. Inquisitive as I was, this time around, I was not interested in knowing the destination of a once-upon-a-time serial killer.

In 1990, I saw "killer" again at Takoradi, near the Princess Movie Theater. This time, he was in a fetish priest regalia, bare-footed, and appeared mentally-challenged. He was seen soliloquizing, but periodically he makes the sound of a gun shot. Many people in Takoradi claimed that "killer" was being "hunted? by the many innocent people he killed whilst on duty at Tarkwa.

These versions of the truth and personal observation of past brutalities in Ghana?s political history, validates President Kufour?s ardent longing to bring about reconciliation of all Ghanaians, thereby expressing the fervent desire of the vast majority of the citizenry.

Members of the National Reconciliation Commission, as they are already aware, have accepted a task with which they would be honored with in the future.

But one thing is clear. That the essential identity of our nation should not be seen through intimidation and senseless killings, so that our fundamental values of life would not be violated again.

Never.

The author, an alumni of Rutgers University, was a former assistant at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana. He now lives in Augusta, Georgia.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.