Soldiers “are paid to shoot and kill”, former Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Joseph Nunoo-Mensah has said in reference to the recent shooting and killing of two protesters in Ejura, Ashanti Region, by soldiers who were helping the police to bring a crowd of demonstrators – who were demanding justice for lynched social media activist Ibrahim Kaaka Mohammed – under control.
“A soldier’s job is not to disperse crowd”, he told Kofi Oppong Asamoah on Class91.3FMs morning show on Wednesday, 30 June 2021, adding: “I’ve never learnt how to disperse a crowd. It’s not my job”.
“They [soldiers] are paid to shoot – not in the air – but at the chest, where it’s mostly going to cause death”, the retired army officer said.
He said deciding to use the army in such situations comes with hefty consequences, and, so, such a decision must be a well-thought-through one.
“So, you don’t use them just like that”, he warned, noting: “When the military comes, it’s not a joke, it’s a serious business”.
He bemoaned: “Unfortunately, since the coming into force of the fourth republican Constitution, we have messed up all our institutions”.
“You talk about the Emile Short Commission; what happened? Nothing happened”, he noted.
“It made wonderful recommendations but nothing happened. I don’t believe anything will happen”, Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah said, adding: “And it is sad”.
He warned: “It’s going to get worse because we are not applying the right force at the right place”.
In his view, “when you get a problem in Ejura, you don’t call soldiers but we’ve [been calling] them since the fourth Republican Constitution came into force – the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, [for example], causing a mess and when a public commission sits, a man of his stature as Emile Short and Prof Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, [both] speak and then you throw them away”.
“What are you telling me? That’s when we learn lessons and not repeat the mistakes of the past. We are all learning. So, the situation in Ghana is worsening. It’s worsening so rapidly that if we don’t take care, we are going to have a problem on our hands”, he cautioned.
Also part of the discussion was the Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Ghana, Professor Kwesi Aning, who asserted that “when there are public demonstrations either with or without official permit – and herein lies the failure of the intelligence assessment once more – when that demonstration begins to get out of hand or even if it doesn’t, it is the police that provides protection for the demonstration and the police is the first responder to the challenge”.
“The assessment by the police – and this is once more a failure from the Ghana Police Service – that they ought to have been able to assess that: ‘Look, the way things are going, maybe in Ejura town, we don’t have enough police officers, so, we need to bring others in to reinforce what we have in terms of tear gas and all sorts of things and extra manpower”.
“So, bringing in the armed forces, or the military is a very unique thing”, Prof Aning noted.
He said: “It’s only when the police has been overwhelmed and lives and property are at stake [and] there’s total mayhem, then the military is brought in”.
And, he added, “the quality and the nature of the military training is that they don’t do conflict resolution. They don’t do mediation. They come in there to face an enemy and the essence is to win that confrontation with that enemy”.
“So, yes, we are all talking about an officer who knelt down and shot. The question is: what was the intelligence assessment upon which the military were invited to come in and what instructions have they been given”, he noted.
Prof Aning, however, pointed out: “This is not to justify their behaviour; no”.
He, thus, demanded that there be some inquiry conducted into the assessment that led to the army’s intervention.
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