Chief Contradicts Volta Basin Claimants

Justice Yaw Apau
The Omanhene of Kukuom Traditional Area in the Brong-Ahafo Region has said that most of the applications put in by some claimants in the Volta Basin Flooded Area compensation package were supposed to be in connection with stool instead of family/clan lands.

The Commission of Enquiry investigating the payments of judgement debts in the past week had been interrogating people who put in claims to collect huge sums of money in compensation following the seizure of lands by the Government of Ghana for the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s; and in each case, witnesses had insisted that the lands were family ones.

Stool Lands
However, Nana Amoako Ababio, known by his stool name as Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, who is a chartered valuer and surveyor, yesterday pointed out to Sole-Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau, that land tenure systems of most of the claimants made it difficult for them to testify that they made the claims on behalf of families.

He testified that he was with the then Lands Department – now Lands Commission – in the 1970s when claims for compensation started trooping into  the offices of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and had extensive knowledge about the government’s handling of the Volta Basin flooded areas.

Individual Claims
When asked by Dometi Kofi Sorpkor, commission’s counsel, whether some of the claimants who sub-divided the lands and claimed compensation in their names were entitled to the amounts, Nana Ababio said he was compiling a document to the commission for verification.

‘Many of the Akan and Guan areas have stool lands,’ he said, adding that there were inaccuracies in most of the acreages put in as claim because there were no detailed plans for most of the flooded areas.

Nana Adade Bekoe II of Ntuaboma, who claimed to be   a divisional chief under the Kwahu paramountcy, also insisted the 8121.69 acres claimed belonged to his family called Aboi.

When it was pointed out to him by Justice Apau that a lawyer called Kwame Mensah put in claim on behalf of the family in the 1970s and were paid, the witness said he was not aware.

He said he received a total of GH¢1,061,720.54 as compensation, even though documents at the commission showed he took GH¢722,287.04.

Nana Amatakyi, Odikro of Tokoroano, who said he was Kyidom of Krachi Traditional Council, told the commission that they were brought from Kianan lands and resettled at Tokoroano.

He said six Odikros put in the about 50,000 acres of claim and that he was the one who collected GH¢2.176,426.60 but could not produce any power of attorney before the commission, even though records showed he was paid GH¢1,805,604.11.

Godfred Asaim Niachire, representative of Nana Efede from Nkomi, said he continued with the process for the claim of 70,123.55 acres when the chief died.

He said Nana Nfede had collected GH¢75,874 before his death and the total claim he had received for the Gyamoae Clan was GH¢3,185,016.65 but claimed that the documents were destroyed in  a lorry accident.

Nana Twerefuor Tim IV of Dikoman said they were resettled at Empaemu in the Kwahu South District from Kete Krachi, but claimed he owed allegiance to the Asantehene.

He said the land belonged to him and his family and he was elected to receive 530,896.77.

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.

Records at the commission revealed that GH¢71 million had been paid so far to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67 million had been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.

Some of the witnesses appearing before the Sole-Commissioner had been tendering in evidence, site plans that did not have dates embossed but had purportedly used the same documents to claim the amounts from the Lands Commission.

Justice Apau even 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 were tendering before the commission.

Asetena Mensah Factor
All the witnesses had been telling the commission that one Nana Asetena Mensah, leader in the communities in Krachi, was the one who had commissioned Kwadwo Ababio & Co – consultants and surveyors – to survey the submerged area out of which the individual plottings were done.

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

By William Yaw Owusu

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