Former Volta Regional Minister, Kwasi Owusu-Yeboah, yesterday appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission to testify in the case in which he was said to have led some people to collect huge sums of money as compensation in the Volta Basin Flooded Area.
He admitted before Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau that he collected a whooping GH¢11,258,286.78 as compensation on behalf of Nana Kwame Asante II, Paramount Chief of Tapa Traditional Area in the Biakoye District of the Volta Region, who he had represented in the claim as counsel.
Cabinet in July 2008 approved a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas. About 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.
Records at the commission revealed that GH¢71 million has been paid so far to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67 million has been put on hold to enable government deal with discrepancies in the payments.
Justice Apau has already expressed shock at how the Lands Commission proceeded to order the release of the various amounts to the claimants based on the documents the witnesses have been tendering before the commission.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal judge said he did not understand why communities that were resettled by the government in the 1960s, given communal lands and paid compensation for crops destroyed by the Volta River floods could turn around to claim cash compensations almost 50 years down the line.
Majority of the witnesses have told the commission that one Nana Asetena Mensah, a leader in the communities in Krachi, was the man who had commissioned Kwadwo Ababio & Co, a consultant and surveyors to survey the submerged area out of which the individual plotting were done.
Mr Owusu-Yeboah told the commission that he was approached by the Tapahene in Abotoase in 2005 to champion the fight for compensation for the family, adding that apart from a composite plan he got, there were other site plans by individuals but because most of them were in conflict, he advised them to sort themselves out before he agreed to lead them.
He claimed that on January 31, 2007, the constituent clans gave him a formal notice to pursue the matter, disclosing that the composite plan was endorsed on July 25, 1975.
‘It was prepared after the flooding and just after the compulsory acquisition of the Volta Basin lands by the government. The acquisitions were covered by E.I. 98 of 1974 and E.I. 67 of 1975 respectively,’ he said.
He tendered in evidence a survey map covering the area called Hohoe North-East, which was prepared in 1933, where he claimed his client’s land was located.
‘The land was not the exclusive claim of the Tapahene. It belonged to the Aynam Royal Family,’ the minister said.
He admitted that the communities that were affected by the floods were resettled at the Tapa Abotoase Resettlement Site covered by E.I. 13 of 1971 and added that the resettlement lands were vested in the government.
He said at a point they had to reduce their acreage ‘pro rata’ from about 220,000 acres to 170,000 acres for other communities and said his clients did not engage the services of Kojo Abban & Co who were the surveyors.
He said they were to be paid GH¢23 million but received about half of the amount, adding that when Kojo Abban was paid 10 percent of the amount they went to court to get it back.
Nana Kwaku Beyenor II, Odikro of Kachienke Clan in the Chonke Traditional Area of Dambai, also testified and said his family filed for 21,140.09 acres but records showed that the site plan was in his name as well as two others.
He confirmed that he collected GH¢1,118,048.54 but the commission said the Lands Commission stated that the amount he collected was GH¢1,118,109.60, adding that the government never compensated his family but it was through the effort of Nana Asetena Mensah and Kwadwo Ababio & Co that they received the amount.
Johannes Koomson, who was said to be indisposed, was represented by his son, Titus Kofi Koomson. He told the commission that the land belonged to the Choboea Clan but the site plan was in the name of his father.
He said his community was never resettled by the government and his father collected an amount of GH¢1,381,518.61 although the Lands Commission’s records indicated the witness took home GH¢1,351,488.61.
He said they used the money for the construction of nurses’ quarters, hired four teachers for their basic school, and built a palace among others.
Abrokornor Odefo & Borae
Nana Yaw Donkoh II, Odikro of Abrokornor, who also represented Odefo and Borae, took his turn and said he collected GH¢87,163.84 in tranches, even though the Lands Commission’s documents indicated GH¢127,948.81 was paid to him.
He also said his family never received any government compensation even though the documents are in his name as the claimant.
Nana Kwame, Collector of Akaniem, was said to be indisposed and could not make an appearance.
By William Yaw Owusu
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