Defence Minister to be queried on journalist, family’s safety

Dominic Nitiwul – Defence Minister

Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul is to appear before Parliament next week to tell the House what urgent safety measures are being put in place to protect the journalist who recorded the recent military brutalities in Wa.

Apart from being asked of the safety of the journalist, Mr Cletus Awuni, who is also the Public Relations Officer of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council, the Minister would also respond to what is being done to protect and ensure the safety of the family of the journalist.

The House is inviting the Minister because Mr Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, MP for Keta, has filed an urgent question on the safety of the journalist.

The Defence Minister has been scheduled to appear before the House, on Tuesday, 27th July 2021, to respond to the question.

The question is contained in the Business Statement for the Tenth Week Ending 30th July 2021, of the Second Meeting of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

Mr Gakpey, in a telephone interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said he was prompted to file the question, as a means of drawing the attention of the House and the nation to protect the journalist who recorded the brutalities of the military.

The action of the soldiers of the 10 Mechanised Battalion in Wa because of a missing mobile phone went viral on social median and attracted wide public condemnation, with application of sanctions by the Military High Command.

Mr Gakpey described the soldiers’ action as “barbaric”, but noted that despite the sanctions, some people loyal to them might want to vent their spleen on the journalist and his family.

The Keta MP observed that there is growing insecurity in the country.

He said recent attacks on journalists in Ghana, to the extent of some being assassinated, and threatened to be brutalized, there was the need to discuss, and ensure the safety of the journalist and his family.

Parliament on July 2, 2021, directed its Defence and Interior Committee to probe the inhumane treatment the solders meted out on the innocent civilians.

On July 1, 2021, 86 young soldiers of the 10 Mechanised Battalion stormed Tindamba, a suburb of Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region, in search of a colleague’s smart phone which was allegedly stolen.

The assault by the young soldiers on some members of the community went viral on various social media platforms, triggering countrywide mass media condemnation.

Subsequently, on July 2, 2021, a delegation led by the Chief of the Army Staff visited Wa to assess the situation.

The Chief of Army Staff, while rendering an unqualified apology to the people of Wa for the action of the young soldiers, emphasized the MHC’s resolve to ensure that the necessary sanctions were meted out to the culpable.

To ascertain the circumstances that led to the brutalities, the Military High Command was tasked to collaborate with the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) to investigate the case.

Subsequently, a four-man team made up of Colonel B. Z. Ayorrongo, team leader; Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Eduah, member; Mr Francis Aboagye (NIB), member and Mr Maxwell Dassah (NIB), member, was tasked to conduct the investigation.

With the exception of the Duty Officer, all other personnel who were on duty on the day of the incident have been charged, tried and punished appropriately.

The punishment includes a demotion of the Orderly Sergeant from Staff Sergeant to Corporal; the Guard Commander from Corporal to Private Soldier while the sentry on duty, a Lance Corporal has been demoted to Private.

The Duty Officer, a Lieutenant, is being tried, and eight other soldiers who were deeply involved and identified in various videos brutalizing some residents, have been charged tried, and awarded 30 days each in detention by a Disciplinary Board chaired by the Commanding Officer.

The remaining soldiers who were involved in the incident would be transferred out of the Region.

In the course of the incident, 11 persons suffered various degrees of injuries; four persons were admitted at the Wa Municipal Hospital, while three persons were treated and discharged.

A fourth person, Gafaru Mohammed was later transferred to the Upper West Regional Hospital, where he was successfully operated upon.

Additionally, victims interrogated have reported the loss of 13 mobile phones, a tricycle and an amount of GH¢1,460.

Source: GNA

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