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86 Wa Soldiers Punished…7 Stolen Phones Retrieved

THREE SOLDIERS of the 10 Mechanised Battalion in Wa have been demoted by the Military High Command for subjecting some residents of Tindama, a suburb of Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region to brutalities.

The officers, who were granted anonymity, were only identified as Orderly Sergeant, Guard Commander, and Lance Corporal.

Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, who disclosed this in Parliament yesterday, said eight other soldiers who were deeply involved or visibly identified in various videos brutalising some residents, have been charged, tried and awarded 30 days each in detention by a disciplinary board chaired by the Commanding Officer.

“The remaining soldiers who were involved in the incident will be transferred out of the region,” he disclosed, and added that “with the exception of the Duty Officer, all personnel who were on duty on the day of the incident have been charged, tried and punished appropriately.”

Forms of Punishment

According to him, the orderly sergeant who was a staff sergeant has been demoted to a corporal, while the guard commander, who was a corporal, is now a private.

“The Sentry on duty, who was a Lance Corporal, has also been reduced to Private. The trial of the Duty Officer who is a Lieutenant will however commence on or before Wednesday, July 14, 2021,” the minister reported in a statement to Parliament.

He noted that all the above trials were without prejudice to the outcome of the subjects under other forms of investigations.

Seized Phones Retrieved

Mr. Nitiwul continued that seven mobile phones and a tricycle motor were retrieved and returned to the owners after victims reported the loss of 13 mobile phones, a tricycle motor and an amount of GH¢1,460.

He, however, indicated that no money had been retrieved yet.

Background

The minister narrated that on July 1, 2021, 86 young soldiers of the 10 Mechanised Battalion in Wa stormed Tindama, a suburb of Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region in search of a colleague’s smart phone which was allegedly stolen.

He revealed that the young soldiers assaulted some members of the community and this went viral on various social media platforms, with the incident triggering “total condemnation on many popular radio stations across the country.”

The Defence Minister said subsequently, on July 2, 2021, a delegation led by the Chief of the Army Staff visited Wa to access the situation, and while there, rendered an unqualified apology to the Wa populace for the action of the young soldiers. He emphasised the Military High Command’s resolve to ensure the necessary sanctions were meted out to those found culpable.

“To ascertain the circumstances that led to the said brutalities, the Military High Command was tasked to collaborate with the National Intelligence Bureau to investigate the above-mentioned case,” he narrated, and continued that later, a four-man team made up of Colonel BZ Ayorrogo, team leader; Lieutenant Colonel GB Eduah, member; Francis Aboagye (NIB), member; and Maxwell Dassah (NIB), member; was tasked to investigate the incident.

He told Parliament that the team arrived in Wa on Sunday, July 4, 2021 and received its initial briefing by the Commanding Officer of the 10 Mechanised Battalion.

“Subsequently, the team was briefed by Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, Upper West Regional Minister; Alexander Awudu, Regional Commander of the National Intelligence Bureau and DCOP Francis Aboagye Nyarko, Upper West Police Regional Commander.”

“The team also visited Mr. Gafaru Mohammed, one of the victims who had surgery on his right fractured thigh and had been on admission at the Upper West Regional Hospital since Friday, July 2, 2021,” he recounted.

Again, the team visited the various incident locations in the Wa township with all the victims except Mr. Gafaru Mohammed to ascertain and corroborate their testimonies, the minister said.

“Mr. Speaker, investigations by the team have established that on June 30, 2021, one of the soldiers alleged that his phone was snatched from him at about 1800 hours at Tindama Junction, a suburb of Wa.

“According to him, the soldier informed his colleague that on Thursday, July 1, 2021 at 1230 hours, who in turn, informed the Duty Officer on the same day.

“The Duty Officer is reported to have permitted the troops to go to town to search for the missing phone at about 1245 hours. This consequently led to the brutalities in Wa,” he submitted.

Victims

He said so far, in the course of the incident, 11 persons suffered various degrees of injuries, while four persons were admitted at the Municipal Hospital.

“Three were treated and discharged. The fourth person, Mr. Gafaru Mohammed, was later transferred to the Upper West Regional Hospital where he was successfully operated upon,” he stated, and added that the victim was currently responding to treatment.

He asserted that at the time of the incident, both the Regional Minister and the Commanding Officer were in Tamale and Accra respectively on official duties.

“Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the above incident and other incidents however, it must be stated clearly that the members of the Ghana Military are very disciplined, well trained and respected across the world for their professionalism.

“The swift action taken by the Military High Command, among other reasons, is to reinforce the sense of discipline among the troops and also to safeguard their worldwide reputation of being a professional armed force, which members of the Ghanaian Armed Forces are known for.

“It is in this regard that the government will continue to re-equip the Armed Forces to enable them carry out their duty of protecting us and our territory,” he intimated.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House

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