Soldiers who molested some civilians in the Upper West regional capital, Wa, in search of a missing mobile phone, have been punished by the Military High Command, Minister for Defense, Dominic Nitiwul has revealed.
While some of have had their ranks reduced, others have been awarded thirty (30) days each in detention with others said to be on schedule for transfer out of the region.
For instance, the Orderly Sergeant who was a Staff Sergeant has had his rank reduced to Corporal. The Guard Commander who was a Corporal has had his rank reduced to Private. The Sentry on duty who was a Lance Corporal has also had his rank reduced to Private.
According to the Defense Minister, the punishments were meted out to soldiers after they were charged and tried by a Disciplinary Board chaired by the Commanding Officer. The trial of the Duty Officer who is a Lieutenant, Mr. Nitiwul added, will however, commence on or before Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
“All the trials are without prejudice to the outcome of the subjects under other forms of investigations. Eight other soldiers who were deeply involved and or visibly identified in various videos brutalizing some residents have been charged, tried and awarded thirty (30) days each in detention by a Disciplinary Board chaired by the Commanding Officer”, he noted.
Mr. Nitiwul made these observations when he briefed Parliament at a sitting on Thursday, July 8, 2021, about the actions taken by the Military High Command following the alleged brutalities by young soldiers of the 10 Mechanized Battalion in Wa township.
What triggered the alleged brutalities?
According to the Defense Minister, on June 30, 2021, one of the soldiers alleged that his mobile phone had been snatched from him at about 18:00 hours at Tindama Junction, a suburb of Wa. He then informed his colleagues on Thursday, July 1, 2021, at about 12:30 hours who in turn informed the Duty Officer on the same day.
The Duty Officer then permitted the troops to go to town to search for the missing mobile phone at about 12:45hours.
“This consequently led to the brutalities in Wa Township”, he noted.
According to Mr. Nitiwul, eleven (11) persons suffered various degrees of injuries out of which four (4) were admitted at the Wa Municipal Hospital.
Three out of the four (4) were treated and discharged with the fourth person identified as Mr. Gafaru Mohammed, later transferred to the Upper West Regional Hospital where he was successfully operated upon.
The victim, he added, is currently responding to treatment, stressing that he has personally paid all the medical bills of the victims and further promised to bear any additional bills that come up.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, welcomed the swift disciplinary action taken by the Military High Command against the young soldiers and expressed the hope that it will serve as deterrent to others.
The Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, commenting on the issue commended the the Defense Minister for the swift intervention in investigating the matter.
However, he said that there is the need to go further to heal the seemingly damaged relationship between the military and civilians.
“We need to do more than just investigating and then churning out deserved punishment. We must up that relationship between civilians and the army. That for me is important. Regardless of the fact that the role of the army is defined – maintaining territorial integrity. They need the people of this country to survive and to execute that constitutional mandate”, he noted.
He urged Mr. Nitiwul to continue to keep his eyes on the situation, stressing that “we don’t want to wake up one day and hear that the matter has gotten out of hand”.