Accra, Ghana//-The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), a leading NGO has urged all persons directly affected by the conduct of the military personnel at Ashaiman municipality in the Greater Accra Region to seek redress at the courts.
This is contained in a press release issued by the Acting Communications Lead at CDD-Ghana, Nana Ama Nartey, in Accra.
In the broader spirit of exercising democratic control over the operations and conduct of the armed forces, the NGO also urged the Ghanaian Parliament to investigate the incident; cause sanctions to be imposed on all persons implicated in the swoop at Ashaiman and ensure that justice is done.
The Executive branch which is headed by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, a renowned human rights lawyer must be advised that failing to condemn and sanction the military officers implicated in this barbaric episode is a slippery slope toward a generalized state of lawlessness and anarchy, it said.
“The government’s tacit endorsement of this incident only goes to embolden military officers to take matters into their own hands whenever they deem it necessary to do so”, according to the press release.
“We must remember that under a democratically elected civilian government, such brutal and unprofessional conduct of soldiers characteristic of military regimes in the past, cannot be encouraged and must never be repeated”.
The CDD-Ghana in the release commended the efforts of the Ghana Police Service in tracking down the perpetrators of this dastardly act.
“CDD-Ghana is highly appalled by the conduct of the military officers at Ashaiman. We are further deeply dismayed by the revelation that this flagrantly unprofessional and barbaric conduct by military personnel was sanctioned by the military hierarchy and received justification and approval not only from the Military High Command, but also from a Deputy Minister of Defence, Kwaku Amankwa Manu, who as a member of the civilian government must exercise oversight and control over the conduct and operations of the armed forces”, it said.
However, the alleged killing of the military officer, Imoro Sherrif and its investigation is a matter of internal security and criminal law enforcement which is the exclusive mandate of the Ghana Police Service, and not the Ghana Armed Forces.
The Ghana Armed Forces should not be free to unilaterally use arms, military accoutrements and other taxpayer/public funded resources entrusted to their care for the defence of the nation to avenge a crime committed against one of their own, CDD-Ghana added.
“Resorting to militarised self-help of this nature for criminal acts committed against individual military personnel undermines the rule of law and creates uneasiness among the civilian population”.
In the early hours of Tuesday March 7, 2023, some officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), under the authorization of the Military High Command, conducted a swoop at Ashaiman in the Greater Accra Region.
The swoop apparently followed the alleged killing of a young military officer, Trooper Imoro Sherrif, by unknown assailants in the town on Saturday, March 4, 2023.
Described by the GAF as an “intelligence-led operation,” it was supposedly aimed at finding the perpetrators of the crime.
The brutal force used by military personnel in this so-called “intelligence-led operation” left many unsuspecting civilian residents of Ashaiman with various degrees of injuries.
Others were confined to their households for hours in fear of falling victim to the barbaric and unprofessional conduct of the military personnel.
About 184 persons were reportedly arrested during this exercise by the military. Some were tortured while others were subjected to all kinds of inhumane treatment by the military.
The fact that this swoop at Ashaiman is not an isolated incident also gives cause for great concern. On many occasions in the past, some officers of the Ghana Armed Forces have resorted to acts of militarised self-help in various parts of the country, terrorising unsuspecting civilians and leaving many injured.
For instance, on or about July 1, 2021, a group of military men were reported to have assaulted some civilians in Wa in the Upper West Region, after a phone belonging to one of the military men was allegedly stolen in the area.
Unfortunately, it appears the punishment meted out to soldiers have prevented these acts from reoccurring.