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05.03.2009 General News

Timely decision


About thirty Military officers last Thursday descended heavily on drivers at the Akim Oda lorry park and subjected them to all kinds of ill treatment. The soldiers were reportedly responding to an earlier attack on one of their colleagues by the drivers. This is not the first time that Ghanaians have witnessed such attack on civilians by Military officers. We have observed similar reports from Sekondi in the Western region, in the not too distant past.

Though investigations into the latest incident have just started, the Military have come out to render an apology to all the civilians involved in the attack by the soldiers. The Chronicle wishes to commend the Military High Command for deciding to render an apology to those who were affected in the brawl, because it would help to ease the tension that is building up between the Military and the civilians in the area, following the attack. We believe that this matter would not have reached this far if the soldiers who were obviously provoked by the civilians had behaved professionally by keeping their cool and reported the case to the police, for the law to take its course.

Unfortunately this did not happen because the soldiers felt that they could take the law into their own hands and teach the erring civilians a lesson. It is the hope of The Chronicle that whilst investigations into the incident is still underway, the Commanders of the various Military units in the country would be talking to their officers and men to respect and appreciate the laws of the land. Without condoning the attack on the soldier by the drivers, The Chronicle thinks it was wrong for him to have called in his colleagues to launch a full scale attack on the helpless civilians, some of whom were not even involved in the earlier attack on the soldier.

If our soldiers are allowed to go unpunished after blatantly abusing state powers in such a reckless manner, then there would be no justification in arresting and prosecuting civilians who organize mob attacks to seek instant justice against alleged offenders of the law. Not even the President, who is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces or anybody is above the laws of this country, therefore, for the soldiers to take the law into their own hands was very unfortunately and must be condemned by all who cherish rule of law.

Much as we condemn the action of the soldiers, The Chronicle thinks it was wrong for the driver at the lorry park to have hit the soldier with a sharp instrument. It is our hope that the Police will do an in-depth investigation to get to the bottom of the matter and punish all the drivers who would be found culpable for the unfortunate incident. The fact that we are in a civilian rule does not mean that our soldiers must not be accorded the due respect. If the Military officer was even infringing upon the law at the lorry station, the best thing was to report his conduct to the Police or even his superiors at the barracks, but not to attack him.

Some civilians sometimes try to attack soldiers with the belief that the public would support them if the former retaliates. This is a primitive thinking and the earlier we do away with it, the better it would be for the peace we are all yearning for in this country.

We at The Chronicle, therefore, fully welcome the Military's willingness to surrender their personnel to the Police investigation and not to shield any one of them if they are found culpable.