General News of 2014-02-24

Angry soldiers petition Mahama

Ghanaian soldiers who were on peacekeeping missions in various war-torn countries have appealed to President John Dramani Mahama to intervene and help them recover monies lost to fraudulent freight forwarding companies.
According to them, hundreds of soldiers have been defrauded by these companies, which were introduced to them by the Military High Command.
The soldiers alleged that the Military High Command introduced the companies to them as credible ones, and encouraged them to deal with the companies and went ahead to deduct monies from their allowances at source to pay the companies.
In a petition to the President, the affected soldiers who served in countries such as Liberia, Ivory Coast, Lebanon and DR Congo, accused the Military High Command of refusing to assist them recover their monies when the companies failed to deliver the items ordered.
According to the petition, several soldiers ordered household items running into thousands of US dollars since 2010 from the freight forwarding companies that do business with the Ghana Armed Forces.
“These companies that received orders from us serving in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, and DR Congo have failed to deliver our goods without the military doing anything about it,” it said.
In the petition, the soldiers said: “What beats our imagination is that when it was clear that these companies were failing to deliver the items, the military still continued to introduce them to us in the mission areas and encouraged us to order from them, and our Commanding Officers deducted the costs at source to pay them".
The soldiers stated that the companies have disappeared with their hard-earned money while they suffer. According to the petition, the victims were asked to submit their details to army headquarters to enable a committee that has been set up to investigate the matter.
The soldiers alleged that the committee completed its work, but the Military High Command is sitting on the report because of the shocking revelations.
According to the petition, some of them will soon be retiring from the service and, therefore, made a passionate appeal to the President to help them recoup their money with interest.
“If you want to hear more and the truth, interview any of those soldiers at the Flagstaff House, but if you ask the big men, they’ll hide the truth from you,” the petition said.
It suggested to the President to hold separate durbars with other ranks without any officer present to know the true state of affairs.
“Please you are our last hope as it is clear they are waiting for our release from the service to be published, and that will be the end of our money,” it added.
When contacted, Colonel Mbawine Atintande, Director of Public Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces, confirmed the story and said the issue was of grave concern to the Military High Command.
He admitted that the Military High Command introduced the Ghanaian companies to the soldiers in good faith.
He explained that following complaints from the soldiers, the Military High Command set up a committee in the middle of last year to investigate the matter, and that the report is ready.
Colonel Atintande said the Military High Command is studying the findings and recommendations contained in the report and would communicate to the affected soldiers at the right time.
Even though Colonel Atintande would not divulge the contents of the report, he said the implementation of the recommendations would have far-reaching implications for the GAF.
He appealed to the affected officers to exercise restraint as the matter was receiving the needed attention.