The Bureau of Public Safety, an NGO, has asked the Ghana Armed Forces to make public details of an inquiry that recently cleared 23 military officers in a fatal shooting incident last year.
Executive Director of the non-profit organisation, Nana Yaw Akwada, says making the report public would preempt possible social, political and economic consequences of the unfortunate incident that claimed one life.
Mr Akwada, whose Bureau of Public Safety works with Government agencies, Businesses and Civil Society Organizations towards improving the quality of public safety, said in other jurisdictions, the publication of the details of the inquiry would have been mandatory.
The military, he said, do not normaly interface with the citizenry, “so normally when something of this nature happens, there is always a military inquiry but the report is made public so that the citizens will now know who and who constituted that committee [that probed the issue] and how far they went with their investigation and what formed the basis of their conclusion”.
Nana Yaw Akwada was speaking Monday evening on PM Express that airs on the Joy News channel on Multi TV.
The discussion on the evening news analysis programme centred on the exoneration of some 23 military officers of any wrongdoing in a shooting incident at Kasoa-based Millenium City that claimed the life of one Michael Darko and injured two other persons in September of 2015.
According to an official statement by the Ghana Armed Forces, its investigation shows that the soldiers were only defending themselves when they fired shots during a demolition exercise by the 21st Century Construction Company.
It is not clear whether the military officers fired at the three men, but the Ghana Armed Forces holds that its men fired warning shots to disperse an angry mob out of fear of being lynched.
The demolition exercise on a land purportedly owned by the military became chaotic when persons who are also claiming ownership of the buildings that were being pulled down tried to stop the construction company from the demolition.
Head of Public Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces, Colonel Eric Aggrey Quarshie, confirmed the armed military men were directed to the site to maintain order during the destruction.
He told Joy News the residents and others claiming ownership of part of the land were incited against the soldiers. The residents, however, deny any acts of violence.
Speaking via phone on PM Express, Nana Akwada said the death of Michael at the hands of the military was blot on the Ghana Armed Forces disciplined track record.
“I think it is very unfortunate for a very disciplined army that Ghana has had in the time past to be engaged in this manner. It’s very, very unfortunate,” he said.
He admits it would be difficult for an accurate assessment of the violence that led to the invitation of the military men or the purported aggression of the residents said to have confronted them, “but how the military conducts itself must be subject to investigation.”
Although some commentators on the matter have argued that the police would have been the appropriate force to quell the purported aggression by the residents seeking to stop the demolition, Nana Akwada notes transparency in how the matter was probed should be the focus now.
"It is important in the interest of transparency, in the interest of the people who have lost their loved ones, in the interest of democracy and in the economic interest of Ghana that this report be made public for all of us to go through it to see what led to the invitation of the military in the first place,” he stressed.
A brother of the deceased, Samuel Darko, who was the guest on the programme, told show host Nana Ansah Kwao IV that the exoneration of the military officers smacks in the face of justice and the rule of law.
“I believe this thing has to be taken on. Because those people [military officers] have to be brought to book. They have to face the law. I believe they have to come from under the wings of the military and face the law otherwise justice will not be served in anyway,” a sombre looking Samuel Darko said.
He is convinced if it had been the son or daughter of any of the military men who was killed like his brother, the story would have been different.