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General News Fri, 31 Jan 2003

Nanfuri handed me over for torture - Ex-soldier

Ex-Corporal Emmanuel Dagban Sawundi, now a security officer at the Kotoka International Airport, Thursday alleged that Peter Nanfuri, former IGP, handed him over to masked men for torture in 1985, when he (Nanfuri) was the Director of the Bureau for National Investigations (BNI).

Sawundi showed members of the Commission a number of scars on various parts of his body as evidence of severe torture meted out to him on the orders of Nanfuri, to compel him to admit to conniving with some military men to assassinate the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and some other statesmen at that time.

At least three members of the Commission left their seats and moved closer to Sawundi to have a close look at his left toe nail, which he said was removed with pliers, a deep cut on his thigh, scars at his back as a result of whips with wires and another scar on his thigh created with a hot iron.

He also took out his artificial teeth and showed to the Commission, saying that out of the torture he lost his natural set of teeth. Sawundi said in addition to the torture, he was also dismissed unlawfully from the military on grounds of misconduct and was unlawfully detained at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison for seven years and seven months.

Narrating circumstances that led to his misfortune, Sawundi said he was working in his capacity as a member of 4th Battalion keeping guard at Kumasi Military Barracks on 2 February 1985, when at 1900 hours he and his colleagues heard gun shots from the residence of the then Brigade Commander.

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"The gun shot came from the residence of the brigade commander, one George Pattinton, through the Kumasi City Hotel area to the quarter guard, where we were so we became alert to reply," he said.

"The brigade commander then came and alerted us of some dissidents involved in the shootout in which two military men were shot and wounded." He said just when they were alerted a vehicle full of armed junior military staff came from where the gunshots had come, advanced towards them and they stopped the vehicle, disarmed the soldiers and asked the driver to move the vehicle away.

Sawundi said after that incident the Brigade Commander called a durbar and asked all Yeboahs, Bawas and Botchweys, adding that those who had those names were all sent to Accra that night.

He said on Sunday, 10 February 1985 he was preparing for church when one Lt. Iddrisu, then Intelligence Officer of the Kumasi Barracks came and invited him out and asked some armed soldiers to take him to the guardroom.

"At the guardroom I was interrogated and later sent to my house for a search, but nothing was found," he said. "Later I was sent to Accra, then to the Castle, where Lt. Iddrisu left me at the mercy of the soldiers there."

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Sawundi said from the Castle one Warrant Officer Tetteh ordered that he should be taken to the BNI headquarters, where he Tetteh said he would be much safer, adding that at the BNI, a four-member panel made up of Nanfuri, Asaase Gyimah, one Ampadu and one Annor Kumi, interrogated him about his involvement with some military officers suspected as plotting assassinations of statesmen.

He said he was asked about one Christian Manu, who used to be his course mate, one Major Sulemana and one General Aminu, all of whom he knew as his superiors but had nothing private to do with.

"My statement was not taken and Nanfuri asked me to co-operate or else he would hand me over to my own men to torture me, but I did not have anything more to say because I had told them the truth already," he said.

Sawundi said he was sent back to the BNI cells and later that night some masked men came, blindfolded and handcuffed him and took him in a vehicle with other detainees to an unknown place where they were severely tortured for days, still blindfolded.

"We were whipped with wires, booted with military boots and starved for days without food and water," he said. "When we cried for water, they poured the water on our heads but refused to give us some to drink."

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He said after three months of torture at the BNI one Dr. Koranteng from the Police Hospital attended to him and pleaded that he should not to be tortured further, adding that on that account he was invited to meet Nanfuri for the second time and later moved out of BNI with others, and they were promised that they were being taken to a hotel.

"We headed towards Kumasi in a Prisons vehicle and to our dismay, were sent to Nsawam prison where we remained for seven years and seven months till 1992, when we were released unconditionally," he said.

Sawundi said on his return from cells he reported at the Kumasi Barracks and asked to be re-instated but the officer in charge, one Major, told him he did not know him and had no record on his service with the military.

He said he went to the records office in the barracks and found out that his file had been marked with red ink signifying dismissal on grounds of misconduct on 4 June 1990, at which time he was in detention so he could not have been around to answer any charges of misconduct.

"I therefore petitioned the then Chief of Defence Staff for my pension benefits and he approved it on humanitarian grounds and paid me an amount a little over 1m cedis covering my salaries from February 1985 to June 1992 as a lance corporal, although I was promoted to Corporal before that unlawful dismissal," he said.

Sawundi said during his unlawful detention his wife was involved in two separate accidents during her visit to him in prisons and that has resulted in the deformity of her hand and rendered her incapacitated.

He said his only son he had with another woman is also currently a truck pusher at Kumasi without any education, adding that his son was now 31-years-old and could not even spell his own name.

Members of the Commission sympathised with Sawundi and asked him to forgive his persecutors. General Erskine said it was a shame that military men could treat their colleague in the way Sawundi was treated, whilst Mrs. Sylvia Boye wondered what sort of training such military men received to make them so inhuman and wicked.

Source: gna
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