General News of Fri, 27 Feb 20042
CVC members pocketed fines imposed for tax evasion
Cape Coast, Feb. 27, GNA- Warrant Officer Michael Siaw, a member of the Citizens Vetting Committee (CVC) in the revolutionary era, on Friday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that members of the CVC kept monies collected as fines imposed for supposed tax evasion instead of paying them into government chest.
Warrant officer Siaw, who is now the Upper Denkyira district coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), said the CVC imposed arbitrary fines, forced people to pay and failed to issue receipts.
He was invited by the Commission, when a petitioner, Mr Kwesi Nkrumah, a 66-year-old farmer at Dunkwa-on-Offin and a goldsmith at that time, told the Commission that Warrant Officer Siaw and other members of the CVC, had collected an amount of 456,000 cedis he (Nkrumah) had given to his brother-in-law for safe-keeping.
He said the money was the remainder of an amount of 500,000 cedis he had been queried by the CVC for possessing in his bank account, out of which he was made to pay a fine of 40,000 cedis.
He said it was after paying the fine that he withdrew the rest and sent it to his in-law, but Warrant officer Siaw and his group followed up and collected 456,000 cedis leaving just 4,000 cedis, and later arrested, detained and beat him.
Warrant officer Siaw, admitted that he was part of the CVC but said he was only an "auxiliary member" and that he and members of his team were given a list of people including Mr Nkrumah, who "were not paying their taxes", to be arrested, but denied that he took part in beating him.
He said when Mr Nkrumah appeared before the committee, he refused to answer questions put to him and that was why he was arrested and detained.
When Uborr Dalafu Labal II asked him whether receipts were issued for monies collected from the supposed tax evaders, he answered in the negative and said he believed the monies were kept by the committee members and not in government chest.
Giving his evidence earlier, Mr Nkrumah said on the day he was vetted, he was asked by the CVC members, how much he had in his account and when he told them that he had 500,000 cedis they enquired how he came by the money and he told them that he earned it as a goldsmith. He said the soldiers, did not take kindly to his answer, called him a 'kalabule' man, beat him up and later detained him at the Atakyem cells at Dunkwa for three days, where he was drilled and tortured and made to appear before the committee again the next day.
It was at this juncture that he mentioned Warrant Officer Siaw as one of the CVC members who went to the his brother in-law to collect his money and asked that he be invited "to answer why they went for his money".
He prayed the Commission to ensure that he is paid some compensation to enable him complete his building which he started before his money was seized, and appealed to Ghanaians to resist military take overs.
Another witness, Madam Kate Ocran, 57, said during the 1979 uprising, soldiers arrested her at Takoradi and took 300 cartons of assorted drinks away from her and subjected her to severe beating and used broken bottles to shave her head.
She was with others arrested, locked up in a cell filled with water to the chest level at the Apremdu barracks and that on that day she heard an announcement that all those who were keeping goods at home should bring them out to be sold at controlled price.
She said she was then operating a drinking bar and that following the announcement she brought out 10 cartons of the drinks to the bar when two naval officers came there and asked her whether she had some of the drinks at home.
Madam Ocran said they took her to her house and when they saw remaining 290 cartons, they asked why she was keeping a lot of drinks in her house, accused her of being a "kalabule" woman and started beating her.
She said they ordered her to roll in the mud and then took away all the cartons of drinks in the house away.
She said there was a similar fate during the 1981 coup when she was accused of hoarding and that 10 cartons of whisky and building materials belonging to her mother were seized.
She was taken to Apremdu barracks and given 30 lashes on the buttocks but when she was released to go and to report the next, she went into hiding at Agona-Bobikuma for one month.
Witness appealed for compensation for the loss of the items, because she could not look after her children education.
Nana Yaw Abakah, 58, from Wassasimpa in the Western Region, narrated how soldiers accused him of hoarding gold in his room and subjected him to severe beatings.
He said soldiers also seized his brand new Peugeot 504 car and later returned it in an unserviceable condition and appealed to the Commission for compensation to enable him take care of his elder brother who was also man-handled by the soldiers when he tried to intervene. He appealed to the Commission to investigate in order to find out who informed that the soldiers that he was hoarding gold in his house.
Another witness John Alexander Osei former depot keeper of cooperative marketing association at Insusaiden near Tarkwa, also narrated how he was beaten at the Apremdu barracks when soldiers accused him of stealing cocoa beans.
He said he was in the barracks for four months before he was released and that he went "through hell" and this has affected his health and his children's education and appealed for compensation for his summarily dismissal by his employers following his arrest.
Mr Yaw Appiah, 74, former chief farmer of Dompim, also near Tarkwa, appealed for compensation for the "brutalities" he went through at the hands of soldiers at the Apremdu barracks, resulting in a hearing impairment, after he had been falsely arrested and accused of leaking information regarding the sale of a piece of land.