Chief of Defense Staff, Get Rid of Vagabonds in Uniform

Wed, 4 Mar 2015 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

A March 2, 2015, news item published on Ghanaweb, titled “Soldiers gun down amputee; beat mother unconscious,” the former the most influential and oft-accessed pro-Ghana(ian) Internet conduit, at once rankled me and reignited my passion to fearlessly denounce the morbidly aggressive behavior of hoodlums hiding behind their official military garbs to unleash terror on their fellow citizens.

Indeed, these Neanderthals, with savagery as their watchword, ought to be identified, arrested, and punished by Ghana’s Military High Command to serve as an example to their fellow hoodlums who, by stroke of good fortune, have found themselves rubbing shoulders with decent men and women tethered to a defense force that has promised to protect fellow nationals from foreign aggressors.

If my readers are not enraged by this dastardly act, then I doubt that anything else would prick their consciences, especially because the dead man was an amputee and, by all accounts, did not physically assault these rascally soldiers and, therefore, did not deserve to be pummeled to smithereens, under the pretext of self-defense.

But even more outrageous than the amputee’s death is the senseless assault on the victim’s elderly mother, whose only crime was to have asked the soldiers why they were in her house. Who in his right senses would assault a septuagenarian, or an octogenarian, for simply asking a question? These cannabis-smoking, akpeteshie-imbibing scoundrels may well argue in court that their collective judgment was impaired by their use of mind-altering chemicals, in order to try to escape the long arm of the law! I hope no judge on Ghanaian soil buys into this sort of outlandish prattle.

Ghanaian soldiers have been assaulting citizens and getting away with it for decades. Soldiers’ lack of respect for authority and the law can be traced to the usurpation of political power by daft bubbleheads and popinjays who neither understood governance nor basic economics. The tyranny unleashed on the longsuffering Ghanaian citizen by the semi-literate scalawag armed with a Kalashnikov has been Ghana’s – and Africa’s – curse.

Every human being deserves dignity – and the poor and downtrodden are no exception. Apparently, some members of Ghana’s Armed Forces did not get the memo in basic training about acting decorously in public. Perhaps, in their warped minds, these law-violating soldiers think that the green, taxpayer-funded uniforms they wear while on duty place them above everyone else! Well, I do not blame them entirely.

The history of Ghana’s military is replete with violence and tyranny. Beginning in 1966 when soldiers overthrew the first popularly elected government, it had been one military takeover or another, interspersed with short spells of civilian rule until the birth of the Fourth Republic. It was not until early 1993, after years of dominating the political landscape, that these abongo boys finally got the memo that their place was rightfully in the barracks. More importantly, lawlessness in Ghana’s military reached rock bottom in 1979 when junior officers rebelled against their superiors, resulting in the physical abuse and torture of otherwise dignified mothers and grandmothers whose “crimes” were never substantiated in a constituted court of law. And we have been reaping the fruits of this evil ever since!

If Ghanaian soldiers are perpetually agitated because of inactivity, then the government should send them en masse on peacekeeping missions. There is nothing more dangerous than to allow an aggressive pit bull terrier to roam freely, for even its master could become its next victim. The Ghanaian military’s culture of violence and terror ought to be replaced with a culture of respect for citizens.

The Chief of Defense Staff and his legion of senior officers must address this issue once and for all, for these constant reports of soldiers’ aggression toward citizens symbolize nothing more than gross indiscipline and insensitivity. It would be mendacious to argue that these aggressive behaviors are idiopathic and/or isolated. Rather, these behaviors are a portent of the pervasive lawlessness found among the military’s rank and file.

I call on Ghanaians to totally condemn the marauders’ violent and peace-stultifying behavior and petition both President John Mahama and Ghana’s Military High Command to punish the offending soldiers for the inexcusable torture and killing of a fellow Ghanaian citizen.

© Daniel K. Pryce, Ph.D., is a criminologist by profession. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce. He invites the reader to join the pressure group “Good Governance in Ghana” on Facebook.com. “Good Governance in Ghana” is a group that emphasizes the preservation of democracy, justice, equity, and law and order in Ghana; its nearly 400 members are all permitted to start discussions that promote the national interest.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.