For the second time since its formation, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) established to investigate the mode of selection of the first batch of potential 2008 recruits into the Ghana Army has been given a jab.
At its sitting on Friday, one of the witnesses, Colonel Kodwo Damoah objected to the convening authority of the BOI, saying the Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier-General R. Winful, had no mandate to set up anything of the sort.
He also asserted that with the current events, the activities of the BOI would be void and illegal. The objections pushed the board to a situation where it had to wind up its activities for the day.
Quoting extensively from the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), Armed Forces Regulations (Administration) Volume One, 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana and the Evidence Decree, 1975 (NRCD 323), Col. Damoah stressed that Brig-Gen Winful, had no right to convene a BOI in the Ghana Armed Forces.
According to him, Chapter 21 of the Armed Forces Regulations is very clear on persons and authorities that can convene a BOI, saying the current office of Chief of Staff is not covered as the rules specifically mention the President, Chief of Defence Staff, An Officer Commanding a Command, An Officer Commanding a Formation, or a Commanding Officer as those authorized to do so.
Col. Damoah defined a Formation as “a number of stations or units including a headquarters, grouped under a single Commander” and contended that the office of Chief of Staff is not a Formation Commander.
“With all humility and respect, I wish to submit on the totality of the provisions of Section 10 of the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), Articles 21.07 and 1.02 of the Armed Forces Regulations (Administration) Volume One, that Brigadier General R. Winful (GH/1441) does not qualify to convene a Board of Inquiry in Ghana Armed Forces, unless there are other legislations, regulations, orders and rules that I may wish to see to advice myself appropriately,” he stated.
The petitioner asked the Col. B. Mussah-led BOI to view his action as his contributions as a lawyer to ensure the development of the law for the establishment of a just and free society required of a democracy, rather that perceiving it as an attempt to delay an inquiry.
He further referred to Section 10 (Act 105) of the Armed Forces Act, 1962, saying: “The president or any person authorized in that behalf by him or any prescribed person may, where he or such person thinks it expedient that information on any matter connected with the government, discipline, administration or functions of the Armed Forces, or affecting any officer or men of the said Forces is necessary, convene a Board of Inquiry for investigating and reporting on such matters.
That Board of Inquiry shall be constituted, and its procedure shall be governed, in accordance with regulations made under this Act.”
This is the second time the former Director of Personnel and Administration has punched legal holes into the BOI.
He told the committee in a petition dated 11th January that he smelled a rat in the composition of the board, adding that the entire agendum to halt the recruitment exercise smacks of politics, ethnicity, and frowns at natural justice.
The strongly-worded petition objected to the inclusion of Lt. Col R.S. Nyaka on the board, in that, he had allegedly demonstrated malice and bias against him (Damoah).
He quoted a series of instances at the barracks to suggest that there was malice and hatred actuated against him, to the extent that discussions were held over how to get a new person to replace him.
He said sometime ago, Lt. Col Nyaka, confided in one Lt. Col. Buntuguh about plans to suspend the training of the 2008 First Batch Army Potential Recruits, and that the DMP would thereafter be accused of recruitment malpractices, and subsequently removed.
Col. Damoah again stressed that the wording of the convening order for the inquiry was carefully done to serve a malicious purpose and hinted of a conspiracy theory in the whole game.
Based on the evidence provided, Nyaka was dropped from the board and replaced by Lt. Col. J. Hagan of the Army Headquarters.
Observers suggest that the current trend could mark the beginning of the end of the BOI as more embarrassing revelations are poised to pop up.