The joy and happiness which usually herald the arrival of returning troops from UN peace-keeping operations were absent when the vessel, GNS Achimota docked at the Tema Naval Base from Freetown.
The naval vessel brought back the troops, but also a puzzle: What was responsible for one of the soldiers on board jumping into the high seas?
The soldier is feared to have jumped into the shark-infested sea along the Ghana-Cote d' Ivoire coastline on Saturday September 8, 2001 during the long voyage back home, and his body is yet to be recovered.
A source close to the contingent told The Accra Mail that the victim, Corporal Awuku of MT Defence Battalion woke up at 2am and told his cabin mate that it seemed someone was calling him. He then walked onto the deck of the cruising vessel and after standing close to the rails in the dark for a while he dived into the sea.
His grief-stricken mate informed his other colleagues six hours after the incident. This was when it was detected that Awuku had not shown up during mealtime.
Obviously alarmed, the captain of the crew ordered for a search, which yielded no results. The Captain reportedly advised that the vessel sail back to the place where the incident occurred so the body could be retrieved. The idea was not accepted because it was agreed that the body would not surface until after a day or two.
According to our source, Corporal Awuku did not leave a suicide note behind, leaving many colleagues wondering what could have spurred him on to dive into the sea. His death was the fourth to be recorded by the contingent since it went for the six-month peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone. The other three reportedly died from illness.
When The Accra Mail called Lt. Col. Nibo of the Armed Forces Public Relations Directorate on the subject he said he was yet to find out the details and get back to us, but this was not possible before we went to press.