The brutal mauling of a police officer by some soldiers of the Uaddarra Barracks, in the Adum central district of Kumasi, the Asante regional capital, must not go unpunished (See “Kumasi Soldiers Brutally Assault Police Officer” Starrfmonline.com / Modernghana.com 6/6/17).
Such dispiritingly uncivilized and undisciplined behavior among the ranks of the AK-47-toting members of the Ghana Armed Forces is almost as ancient as the foundation of the GAF itself. It peaked in the wake of the bloody mutiny led by then-Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and his so-called Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) in 1979.
While it may have remarkably abated, somewhat, since the inception of democratic governance in 1992, nevertheless, it is quite commonplace to witness members of the Ghana Armed Forces literally beat up and publicly humiliate the men and women of the Ghana Police Service (GPS). In the police-beating incident in Kumasi, we are told that a uniformed police officer – some accounts claim that it was a non-uniformed police detective – from the Regional Police Headquarters, which borders Uaddarra Barracks, also at Adum, had attempted to use a regularly thoroughfare linking both security establishements, only to be rudely ordered to turn back because it was too late in the evening for him to be using this thoroughfare. The unidentified police officer, we are told, was fully dressed in his uniform.
I have personally lived in the old barracks of the 4th Battalion of Infantry, where one of my uncles, presently retired, was then the Deputy Padre, or Chaplain, so I know the area fairly well, although I have been out of the country for some three decades now.
Turning back would have unnecessarily lengthened the distance that the police officer had to walk. Besides, him being in uniform – or carrying an ID Card – ought to have made it obvious to his assailants that he had business to do in the vicinity. It well appears that these soldiers simply wanted to demonstrate their falsely perceived sense of personal and institutional superiority. If, indeed, it was too late for the police officer to use the thoroughfare and he had flatly refused to be pushed around, as many of our soldiers are well known to routinely do, at least the civilized rules of conduct dictated that these soldiers take the particulars of the police officer – or the victim – and report him to the Police Headquarters and to their own commander as well.
Taking the law into their hands, literally, as these soldiers are reported to have done, gives some justification to some of the occasional attacks unleashed at these soldiers by members of the civilian population. It also seriously undermines the national trauma recently occasioned by the brutal mauling death of Capt. Maxwell Adam Mahama, posthumously promoted to the senior rank of Major, at Denkyira-Obuasi, Central Region, on Monday, May 29. We are told that the badly beaten police officer is responding to treatment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), even as officers of the Asante Region’s Central Police Command investigate the matter.
Whatever the outcome of investigations, the soldiers who allegedly so severely assaulted the lone police officer must be promptly disciplined to the fullest extent permitted by law, including prison sentences and dishonorable discharge from the Ghana Armed Forces. Our soldiers have a responsibility to hold themselves up to the highest moral and professional standards. Our police men and women must be respected by our men and women in military uniform. It is a major part of the reason why the members of our police service are having a hard time commanding the respect and cooperation of the members of the general civilian population.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York