Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III (right) with his lawyer Kwame Yankyera
Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The Krachiwura, Nana Mprah Besemuna III, was yesterday subjected to a barrage of questions by the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts.
Records before Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal indicated that the retired Commissioner of Police, who represented his elder brother, Nana Asetena Mensah, aka B.K. Mensah, played a vital role in the Volta Basin compensation claims following the construction of the Akosombo Hydro Electric Dam.
However, he protested before the commission that it was wrong for anybody to assume that the process for compensation that led to the collection of huge sums of money from the government, started only recently.
Cabinet, in July 2008, approved a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas. An estimated 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.
Records at the commission revealed that GH¢71 million has been paid so far to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67 million has been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.
Some of the witnesses who appeared before the commission have been tendering in evidence site plans that did not have dates but had purportedly been used to claim the money from the Lands Commission.
Some of the documents also bore the names of individual claimants; but the witnesses have claimed they were making the claims on behalf of families or clans.
Justice Apau has variously expressed shock at how the Lands Commission could have proceeded to order the release of the various amounts of money to the claimants based on the documents the witnesses are tendering before the commission.
Furthermore, he 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 compensation almost 50 years down the line.
Asetena Mensah Factor
All the witnesses have been telling 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 the individual plotting were done.
The commission has 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 the compensation.
Nana Besemuna III told the commission that as the paramount chief of the Krachi Traditional Area, he had the authority of the Kantankofore family, led by Nana Asetena Mensah who was once an MP of the area, to put in the claims.
He said he collected a total of GH¢1,441,352.20 in five tranches—representing about 27,000 acres—for Kantankofore and added that Nana Asetena Mensah passed on at age 96 when he was preparing to also appear before the commission.
He said the claims for compensation for families in the Volta Basin flooded areas was spearheaded by Nana Asetena Mensah around 1974/75 when he commissioned a survey of the whole submerged area.
Subsequently, Lands Department in 1978 acknowledged his letter for compensation for 952,900.20 acres that was being claimed by all the families.
He said it was later that one Nana Ofosu Yiadom from the Pai Traditional Area also mobilised his people to claim compensation and used Kwadwo Abban & Co as the consultant and surveyors.
The Krachiwura admitted before the packed commission that the acreages of claimants overlapped, saying, “it was difficult getting governments upon governments to accept the fact that our people deserved compensation and when one government finally decided to pay compensation we were adjusting lands so that there will be peace in the area.”
He said the issue of Volta River Reimbursable Fund which had been set up for the area was the subject matter of a pending court action and could not give further details.
The Paramount Chief of Pai Kantanga, Nana Diawuo Bediako II, aka Stephen Attah Kwasi Akowuah, also testified on the Pai Development Fund he set up which he said was also the subject matter of a pending court action.
He said apart from the first tranche of GH¢63,159, all subsequent payments were lodged in court due to the litigation, saying, “what has been paid before the court is around GH¢1, 266,494.65.”
He said he started pursuing the claim at a time when he was not even the chief, adding that the Paiman Development Fund came in the 1970s.