The Ghana military arrests nearly 200 young men of Ashaiman through ‘’military intelligence,’’ subjugate and traumatize them and later release them without charge.

The Ghana police, picks up six young men said to be closely linked to the gruesome murder through ‘’sustained police intelligence-led operation’’ and are assisting police investigations.

Minister of Defence Mr. Dominic Nitiwul refuses to apologise while the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Force, President Akufo-Addo appears nonchalant.

The Ghana military must redefine their rules of engagement with civilians to earn the respect and support from the civilian population.

 Ashaiman-Taifa, a suburb of Ashaiman in Greater Accra Region was on 7TH March, 2023 the scene of military brutalities after a soldier, Trooper Sheriff Imoro, of the 154 Armored Regiment in Sunyani was killed under circumstances yet to be unraveled. The intensity and gravity of the inhuman acts perpetuated against the suspects drew condemnation from many sections of civil society. 

 I wish to share my sympathy with the family of Sheriff Imoro, the officers, and the rank and file of the Ghana army for the loss of the soldier and also join civil society to condemn the murder of the young soldier and similarly condemn the unprofessional conduct of the military. These acts of barbarism must not be visited on citizens when there are better ways of managing this situation. 

The crime of the one hundred and eighty-four (184) men arrested was that they were found in the community within which the alleged crime took place.       

Pictures and video clips viral on social media show a column of military vehicles with fully armed soldiers and helicopter gunships hovering overhead to intimidate the population. Young men were rounded up, brutalized and made to roll in muddy waters like prisoners of war, but there is no war in Ghana.

 The scenes are reminiscent of white brutality of blacks in the South West Township (SOWETO) of former apartheid South Africa. 

Slavery was abolished in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln in the US but at the 66th independence anniversary of Ghana in March 2023, citizens were treated like people sold into slavery and being made ready to be shipped like slaves to the Americas through the gates of no return at the Cape Coast castle.

 In a way, the traumatized and helpless young men in the muddy cow dung waters of Ashaiman, with trained soldiers whipping them in the mud also looked like stubborn animals being prepared for the slaughter house.

 This is unacceptable in democratic Ghana at 66.

The reaction of the Ministry of Defence is even puzzling. Who speaks for the Ghana Armed Forces? Is it the Ministry of Defence or the Public Relations Directorate of the Ghana Armed Forces? 

This unlawful action by the soldiers, in addition to the jumbled and disjointed statements hurriedly issued separately by the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces P.R. Directorate, have significantly reduced the sympathy Ghanaians would normally show to the family of a dead soldier and by extension to the soldier community in general as similar situations in the past testify.

 The brutal murder of Major Maxwell Adams Mahama at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region is referenced. Denkyira-Obuasi was renamed New Obuasi in August 2017 in honor of the fallen soldier.

There are laws in Ghana, and if citizens are always admonished not to take the laws into their hands but refer misdeeds to appropriate authorities for redress, why should soldiers behave differently? The failure of President Akufo-Addo to condemn military escapades like the Techiman South and Ayawaso West Wuogon election violence appears to have contributed immensely to this unfortunate situation.

The Military High Command later announced that all the young men aged between 21 and 47 arrested and brutalized in connection with the murder based on ‘’military intelligence’’ have been released to go back to their homes because of lack of evidence.

 In another development, the Public Affairs Directorate of the Ghana Police has come out with a ten-point statement detailing how through ‘’sustained police intelligence-led operation’’ they arrested six key suspects linked to the murder of the soldier at different times and different locations without any violence or fanfare.

Nobody was born a soldier. Civilians enroll to become soldiers to serve the nation and after discharge from service, they return to civilian life.

 For this and many other reasons the military must distinguish themselves as professionals in the country as they do in peacekeeping operations abroad which have earned them numerous and envious accolades to the glory of the army and Ghana in general.   

 The Ghana Armed Forces should fully render apologies and compensate the innocent victims of their brutality.  

 Furthermore, the military hierarchy must redefine their rules of engagement with civilians in situations like this for peaceful coexistence in the country.

By George Yankah