The Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Interior has recommended to the Government to promptly and compensate all victims of military brutalities that happened in Wa in the Upper West Region in 2021.
it would be recalled that a referral was made to the Committee on Defence and Interior by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, to undertake an investigation into the Military-Civil unrest in which soldiers were seen in a viral video beating up people in Wa in the Upper West Region over a missing phone.
The referral was occasioned by the statement made on Friday, 2nd July 2021, by Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, drawing the attention of the House to the adverse effect of brutalities meted out by some military persons on some citizens, calling on the relevant authorities to take necessary measures to control the situation.
Presenting the report on the floor of Parliament, Mrs Ophelia Mensah Hayford, the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Interior, said steps should be taken by the Military High Command and the Ministry of Defence to foster good civil-military relations in communities where new military units had been established and, in the country.
According to the Committee, reports indicated that two soldiers who were in mufti had gone to town to buy food and whilst on their way back to barracks, had one of their mobile phones snatched.
It said the two soldiers indicated that they were attacked by two gentlemen on a motor bike and threatened with a knife whilst on a tricycle back to the barracks.
It said this incident was believed to be what had triggered the molestation of the civilians by the soldiers.
The report noted that it was observed that the soldiers who went on the rampage in Wa were recruits who had recently passed out training school and acted on the orders of Lieutenant Gyasie, the officer on duty at that time.
The Committee also observed during its sitting, from the demeanour and testimony of Lt Gyasie that his youthfulness and inexperience as an officer who was commissioned into the military barely eight months prior to the unfortunate incidence might have led him into giving unlawful orders to the soldiers to storm town and search for the lost phone of Private Joachim Archer without considering the consequences of such orders.
It said before the Committee, however, Lt Gyasie showed remorse throughout the hearing.
“The Committee further recommended that junior officers such as Lt Gyasie must be mentored sufficiently well to forestall the commission of unlawful acts which has the potential to mar military-civil relations,” it said.
“Again, there is urgent need for the soldiers who allegedly brutalized and tortured Abdulai Ahmed, the car washing bay owner at Wechau to be identified, tried and punished by the Military High Command if found culpable to serve as a deterrent.”
It said Lt Gyasie was awaiting trial by a senior military officer other than Lieutenant Colonel Kwasi Gyima, the Commanding Officer of the 10 Mechanised Battalion, since it was not in his power to try him.
The report recommended that senior officers of the rank of Major and Captain be posted to the 10 Mechanised Battalion to assist the Commanding Officer in the execution of the task assigned him.
Mr James Agalga, Ranking Member for the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, in his contribution, reiterated Ghanaians were in a democracy and that gone were the days when soldiers could act with impunity; saying “and so, this House must speak with one voice that they have been paid with our taxes and therefore they must treat civilians with outmost respect. The rule of law, Mr Speaker must always apply.”
Speaker Alban Bagbin gave a directive to the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Interior to go forward and take up reports of all the Commissions that had been set up by Governments (with respect to military brutalities) and bring them to the House.
The Speaker also gave notice to all security agencies that the House would no longer take any civilian brutalities, adding that “the law is there to be enforced.”