Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul

Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul has expressed his preference for a situation where the military will not be the first point of call to restore calm when civilians embark on protests.

Addressing Parliament Friday, Mr Dominic Nitiwul called for support for the Ghana Police Service to effectively take up such roles.

“I agree perfectly that if there is a way to ensure that the military is not the first point of call when there is an issue in terms of civilian control, we will be very excited.

“I’d be very excited that the military should not be the first point of call when we are dealing with the civilians. We should be able to help the police do that effectively.”

His suggestion comes in the wake of many Ghanaians registering displeasure at the conduct of the men and women in uniform in some parts of the country.

On Tuesday, June 29, Military and Police personnel clashed with the youth of Ejura, who hit the streets to demand justice for the murder of social activist, Ibrahim Mohammed.

The protest turned turbulent, resulting in the death of two protestors, with four others sustaining various degrees of injury.

Abdul Nasir Yussif, aged 25, was shot in the left shoulder and chest. He is said to have had internal bleeding in the chest and died before arriving at the hospital.

The second victim, Murtala Mohammed, aged 26, was shot in the back through to the chest. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes after being rushed to the Ejura Hospital.

The recent act is the assault against residents of Wa in the Upper West Region by a group of soldiers on Thursday.

JoyNews correspondent, Rafiq Salam, said the soldiers went on a rampage looking for a mobile phone belonging to one of them, which was allegedly stolen by a tricycle operated.

The victims, mostly commercial tricycle operators, motorists and pedestrians, were whipped and made to roll on the bare floor, with some forced into gutters nearby. 

Several of them are said to have sustained various degrees of injury. Two, are currently on admission at the Wa Municipal Hospital.

Responding to the Wa military brutality, the Defence Minister revealed today that the soldiers’ actions were not authorized by Senior Commanding Officers and gave the assurance to bring the culprits to book.

“This incident is unfortunate; it shouldn’t have happened because first of all, it was not sanctioned by the Regional Minister, the Commanding officers, neither was it sanctioned by anybody in Accra. Some men and women in the Armed Forces moved to town to do that.

“The military got information from one of their colleagues that he was hijacked in the night while on duty,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dominic Nitiwul has stated that a Committee set up investigations are being carried out by his outfit.

“The Ministry has also put up a small committee with representatives from the national security, the Defence intelligence and other persons, to go there and find out exactly whether there are other remote causes. Because it is simply not a military character to move to town and molest people, it is not something I’ve heard before. So I want them to go to the bottom of the matter and find out what really is the problem,” he stated

He also informed the House that the affected persons have been identified and will be taken care of.

Following the Ejura incident, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has revealed that security personnel have the legal mandate to use lethal force when confronting armed protestors if the need arises.

Addressing Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, IGP James Oppong-Boanuh, indicated that the use of lethal force, where necessary, is to ensure the safety of security officers whose lives may be at risk.

“Honourable Chair, you and I know that in very fluid situations, there are no hard and fast rules when the lives of the Police officers are threatened, that they should go through all these. So, depending on the nature of the situation you are dealing with, you can go through all these.

“Let me add that if you are dealing with unarmed demonstrators, then you will not go for live amour, but when you see somebody in the crowd holding a weapon which is capable of being used to kill or injure a Police officer, our laws permit us to use lethal force to eliminate that threat to the officers on duty. So, it depends on the situation you are dealing with,” he said.