Justice Yaw Apau
The Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts has commenced interrogation of people who put in claims to collect huge sums of money in respect of the Volta Basin Flooded Area – caused by the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s.
Cabinet in July 2008 approved a consolidated amount of compensation totaling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas; and about 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.
However, when the first batch of witnesses testified before the commission yesterday, it was clear some of the payments were made under suspicious circumstances.
It was an interesting scene when Sole-Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal, assisted by Dometi Kofi Sorkpor, counsel for the commission, took turns to grill the witnesses.
The first to appear was Jacob Bewah Donkor, who said he represented the Nchunea Clan from the Krachi Traditional Area where a total of about GH¢2.1 million was released to in tranches.
Flanked by his counsel, Kwame Yankyera, the witness claimed the submerged portion of the Volta Lake measuring 49,792.7 acres, belonged to the clan and he had the power of attorney to represent them at the Lands Commission.
He then tendered in evidence a site plan but there was no date on it to show when it was prepared and could also not present the original plan out of which the exhibit he tendered was prepared.
The witness claimed he was representing the Nchunea Clan but the site plan based on which the amount was released, had the names of himself and one Bob Yaw as owning the entire land and not the clan.
When asked by the Sole-Commissioner to explain the anomaly, Jacob Bewah Donkor said, ‘We were only given a letter that we should represent them.’
Justice Apau pointed it out to him that it was wrong for the witness to claim that he collected the money in the name of the clan when there was documentary evidence to show that the land was in his name.
The commission also pointed it out to the witness that the document he presented for the money to be released had kept changing the acreage of the land from 49,792.7 to 45,000 and finally to 40,000, but Mr. Bewah Donkor replied that it was an arrangement between the families but the Commissioner said it was irregular.
Justice Apau then remarked, ‘The documents before the commission clearly show that some of these claimants submitted questionable documents and got money,’ but Lawyer Yankyera insisted that ‘they have never acted in any way to show they fraudulently took the money.’
The witness then admitted that his clan was resettled by the government during the flooding in the 1960s; and the commission made it clear that their instant claim was in contravention of the Volta River Development Act (Act 46).
Kianan & Kono Clans
Kwame Gyane and Jacob Bia from the Kianan and Kono clans respectively, also testified and claimed they were given powers of attorney to chase the compensation.
It emerged that the Kianan clan claimed a land size of 6,860.69 acres while the Kono clan had 13,333.69, bringing the total to 20,194.58 acres.
The site plan was in the name of three persons – Nana Abiam Danso, Kofi Mensah Dometi and Martin Kwabena Tawiah – yet they made the claims in the names of the Kianan and the Kono clans of Krachi.
Kwame Gyane admitted that he collected the money in four tranches from 2009 to 2013 and it totaled GH¢1.717 million, even though Justice Apau said that official documents showed the witness collected less than he was paid.
The commission also made it clear to the witnesses that the Cabinet’s letter did not even mention Kianan and Kono clans and that the clans were resettled under the programme when the Dam was built and could not have turned around to claim compensation five decades down the lane.
Nana Kpakore, aka Mr. Mambo, who claims to be the Regent of Kakwagya Stool and doubles as the Zonal Coordinator of NADMO in the area, also testified.
He said he represented the Pepetia clan to claim 3,000 acres, adding that he collected GH¢159,000 in four tranches as compensation.
He said his clan was never settled when the Dam was constructed adding, ‘We resettled ourselves at Grubi.’
By William Yaw Owusu
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