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General News Sat, 27 Jul 2019

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2 soldiers ‘unjustifiably’ force journalist to weed Michel Camp for one hour

Two military officers at Michel Camp military base in the Greater Accra region have allegedly abused a journalist whose assistance they had sought in resolving a misunderstanding between two trotro drivers.

Mr James Harry Obeng claims he was handed a cutlass and unjustifiably made to weed a bushy area within the camp for one hour before being released by the two officers whose names he gave as Owusu and Mensah.

He has since Wednesday, July 24 when the incident happened, lodged a human rights abuse complaint at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for an investigations into the case.

After his bizarre treatment in the hands of the two officers, Mr Obeng said he immediately reported the case to the Mataheko Police Station, but those on duty at the time declined to book same on the basis that it was not a criminal issue.

The police officers argued the case was a human rights abuse hence he should make his complaint at CHRAJ which he did.

An officer at the Complainants Unit of CHRAJ who pleaded anonymity confirmed a complaint has been made and that three directors of the Commission would look into the case.

The directors, according to the officer, would determine whether the Commission have the mandate to conduct further investigations, the Ghanaian Times reported Friday.

What happened?

Narrating what happened, Mr Obeng said on the morning of July 24, he boarded an Accra-bound Mercedes Benz mini bus at Afienya.

On reaching Mateheko Number 1 Junction, he said the trotro driver of the bus stopped to pick a passenger.

Some commercial drivers at the Junction who have been trying to start a new station at the area are said to have been preventing drivers who ply the Tema/Ashaiman-Afienya route from picking passenger at or near that junction.

As someone who uses the road on daily basis, Mr Obeng noted that attempts by the Mataheko drivers to chase the offending driver(s) oftentimes, result in heated confrontations.

According to Mr Obeng, they drivers got angry that the driver of the trotro he was travelling in stopped to pick a passenger at the spot, hence started to chase their vehicle.

“In my case, the driver, after picking the passenger, drove onto the lane of oncoming (Tema/Ashaiman-Afienya) cars, instead of remaining on the lane (Afienya-Tema/Ashaiman) he should be on. I think his intention was to avoid having any confrontation with the drivers at the Mateheko Number 1 Junction.

“Nevertheless, immediately after bypassing that junction, he joined the proper lane (Afienya-Tema/Ashaiman)” he added.

On reaching the Michel Camp main gate, Mr Obeng said the drivers at Mataheko on board a blue 207 bus and running on top speed on the lane of oncoming cars, came and “crossed the car I was in right in front of the Michel camp main gate.”

He said the Mataheko Number 1 drivers questioned their driver in the middle of the road as to why he picked a passenger in their zone, something that caused vehicular traffic.

The soldiers manning the gate at the Michel Camp, he said trooped to the scene apparently to restore order.

At this point, he said “all the passengers in the car I was in, including myself, were getting down to take another car to continue our journey to Accra.

“Immediately I got out of the car, a soldier (with the name-tag Owusu on his uniform) asked that I explain to him what had caused the confrontation involving the two buses, from my perspective as a passenger.

“So we (I and the soldier) got off the road to the roadside (right in front of the Michel camp gate) and started to narrate what I saw. Then, he (the soldier) cut into my explanation that I should follow him inside the gate to continue my narration. I obliged and followed him in, and then completed narrating the account to him.”

“So, afterwards, I asked if that was all the information he needed, so I could leave and board another bus to work. Then, he said I should remain standing where I was and not move an inch. He then shouted out to some of his colleagues to bring the cutlasses and they handed one cutlass each to me and the driver.

“I asked what my offence was, and this guy instantaneously got angry, and started approaching as though he had intentions of hitting me. He then said, ‘stupid boy’, you think we are joking here, huh and then pointed to a nearby weedy field.

“I weeded for about 20 minutes and they (Owusu and with one soldier with the name-tag Mensah) shouted out from a distance and directed me to move to another weedy field (where they were standing) to continue the weeding. Here too, I weeded for about 40 minutes.

“It was at this point that I managed to take my phone out of my pocket (whilst still weeding) and called my boss on the phone. They would be angry if they realised I was the on the phone, so I put the call on loud speaker when my boss picked (whilst still weeding).

“It was after the call with my boss that they (Owusu and Mensah) called me and said I should hand my cutlass to the driver (who was also weeding) and take my bag and leave”.

Source: 3 News

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