Volta Basin Claimants Shock Sole-Commissioner

Justice Yaw Apau
The second batch of people who put in claims to collect huge sums of money in respect of the Volta Basin Flooded Area, following the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s, were interrogated by the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts.

Witnesses appearing before Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau yesterday tendered in evidence site plans that did not have dates embossed, but had purportedly been used to claim the amounts from the Lands Commission.

Cabinet in July 2008 reportedly 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.

However, Justice Apau expressed shock at how the Lands Commission could have proceeded to order the release of the various amounts to the claimants based on the documents the witnesses tendered before the commission yesterday.

Furthermore, the Court of Appeal judge 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 compensation almost 50 years down the line.

All the witnesses told the commission that one Nana Asetena Mensah, a leader in the communities in Krachi, was the one who had commissioned Kwadwo Ababio & Co, a consultant and surveyors, to survey the submerged area, out of which individual plotting was done.

Justice Apau has made it clear that Nana Asetena Mensah never came forward to make any claims. Rather, he delegated the Krachiwura who had no stake in the lands to lead the chase for compensation.

Yesterday, it was Kwame Ananey, aka Twenebaoh Anane Hastings, the head teacher of Gyanekrom DA Primary in the Volta Region, who was first to mount the witness’ box.

He claimed he was secretary to the Dentewiase Clan which is in the Krachi Traditional Area and said the land which is about 22,000 acres belonged to the clan which covered six towns, but the Sole-Commissioner revealed that in reality the site plan had one Nana Kofi Gyantro II of Dentewia as the beneficiary.

Mr Ananey claimed he was selected by the family elders to chase the money but admitted that he personally did not know the date on which the site plan was submitted.

His counsel, Kwame Yankyera, entered the fray and insisted that ‘the plans were extracted from a larger mapping’, adding that there were dates on the maps but the documents were not available.

Mr Ananey then confirmed that he collected a total of GH¢1,161, 565.65 in five tranches between 2009 and May 2013.

He gave the breakdown as GH¢21,549.00 (in 2009), GH¢16,716.09 (in April 2010), GH¢167,122 (July, 2010), GH¢373,376.85 (January 2012) as well as GH¢558,441.67 and GH¢24,320.03 in May 2013.

‘The process was started by Nana Asetena Mensah. I came in when he introduced Kwadwo Ababio & Co to us and my family elders selected me to chase the compensation,’ he said.

He said the six communities shared the amount received equally, regardless of the size of the acreage, but Justice Apau said ‘ceding parts of the lands to other villages meant that you didn’t know the actual size of your land.’

‘When your families were being resettled you were not there but somebody comes in 2005 to tell you that money is coming and you quickly drew these plans for the claims; and that is where the confusion is coming from,’ the judge retorted.

Nana Kadewurra of Dentemanso, who claimed to be Benkumhene of Chaichai Division in the Krachi Traditional Council, also testified.

He claimed that his clan owned 2,761.74 acres but the document he presented indicated that the site plan which was extracted in 2005 was in his own name.

He said the family did not distribute the total of GH¢96,427.19 paid in five tranches to individuals, but used the money for development projects. Unfortunately he could only mention the construction of the chief’s palace as one of the development projects.

He also admitted that they were resettled following the floods.

Nana Obuiman II, aka Alex Adomabe of Grubi, who said he was the Nifahene of Chaichai in the Krachi Traditional Council, was the next witness. He admitted that his people were resettled following the floods.

He said the family selected him to make follow-ups for the money but the site plan he tendered in evidence was in his name, compelling Justice Apau to remark that ‘they are all giving similar explanation.’

He said he collected GH¢70,785.26 but records at the commission indicated that GH¢83,157.22 was credited to his name.

Nana Nsiahya II of Dindor in the Krachi Traditional Area said he led his people to claim 696.98 acres and said they were not resettled following the floods.

He also said they were not paid any compensation and admitted that the site plan was in his name, adding that he used that position to collect GH¢37,027.42 from the government.

Nana Ofosu Okofrobour Appiah II of the Yaa-Dwori Clan in Motodua, who claimed to be Twafohene to Krachiwura, also testified and said they put in a claim for 24,196.15 acres.

He presented a site plan that had the names of Nana Kofi Fosu, Motodua Chief, and Nana Ofosu Okofrobour Appiah and Dente Kwasi Emmanuel as the owners of the land but said the land belonged to the clan.

He also admitted collecting GH¢1,273,976.61 in five tranches.

By William Yaw Owusu

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