Samson’s Take: Act professionally, stop the abuse III

Samson’s Take: Act professionally, stop the abuse III

An officer of the Ghana Armed Forces has been locked up in their guardroom in Michel Camp, Tema, since November 2022. That is six months without a charge and without trial. Yet Ghana is a democracy of rule of law.

This is in violation of their own rules requiring that an officer facing discipline and in custody must be released if not tried after 90 days. Our courts have even struck down that rule as unconstitutional requiring the army to also comply with the 48-hour constitutional rule for all persons arrested, restricted or detained because they are innocent until proven guilty.

Last week I cautioned that something bad might happen if they don’t stop abusing the poor officer. I explain what I meant. He managed to get a suicide note to me. I am talking about the soldier I said has been frustrated, lost his promotion, in fact, he tendered in resignation letters five times – 28th October 2015, 3rd December 2015, 26th January 2016, 4th February 2016 including through his lawyer on 13th March, 2016 without any response.

He got wrongly accused, tried and acquitted. He sued the Ghana Armed Forces and military police was sent to arrest him in the courtroom. A High Court judge’s rebuke didn’t stop them from arresting him within the court premises.

I have seen the Closed Arrest Book and there is no charge against his name. His lawyer wrote to the Chief of Defence Staff for due process of law to be followed but that letter has been ignored. Lance Corporal Kofi Andrews says he is a sole breadwinner and his family – his wife and children and his aged father are sick starving. Lawyers who have been helping him for free are equally frustrated.

Chief of Defence Staff, when I say your military police is unlawfully used to arrest and detain civilians, I am talking fact with evidence to show how some unscrupulous officers are turning such an important institution into a debt collection entity with land guards in uniform. Stop the abuse!

Last week, police officers at Tesano abused a commercial bus driver and a passenger. Fumes came out of his vehicle which came to an abrupt stop on the road just by the police station. A senior officer driving out of the station shouted at him angrily to move as he drove past. A passenger dared to shout back asking if the officer didn’t see the driver was frantically trying to fix a fault.

He drove back, got her arrested and locked up. The vehicle was impounded and released only three days later when I called to provide legal representation. We have been waiting for the charges to mount a defence in court. A couple of officers there who became aware of the facts expressed shock. The vehicle broke down for less than 15 minutes.

By law (Regulation 102 – L.I. 2180), an offence is committed only when a broken down vehicle is left on the road for up to an hour in a city, town or built-up area, and for up to two hours on roads in other areas. This is even on condition that a driver fails within the hour or two to report the situation to the nearest police station or to an authorized towing service.

Dear senior officer at Tesano, try to emulate the example of your colleagues who will rather assist distressed drivers and passengers in such situations. It looks good on you. Stop the abuse! You don’t know this driver’s circumstance and how you denied him and his family bread for all the days you kept the vehicle on your compound.

Stop using the uniform and gun to abuse those who pay for the uniform and gun.

The people of Ashaiman assaulted and abused by the military must get justice. Dear President Akufo-Addo, Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Staff, I join the CDD, Occupy Ghana and all lovers of rule of law and due process to demand that you punish the conduct and compensate the poor victims.

That’s My Take.