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01.08.2005 General News

Patriotic army officer sacked

The Independent

In a matter of bizarre contradiction the Ghana armed forces (GAF) last year dismissed Ghana army infantry officer of the 3rd Battalion of infantry (3BN), Sunyani, Lieutenant Seth Oduro, for arresting a truckload for illegally sawn timber and the persons carrying it.

The general court marshal convened by the commanding officer in charge of the Northern Command, Brigadier General G.Ayiku (major-general) gave the GAF the go ahead to dismiss Lt. Seth Oduro on four of the six counts of charges brought against him by the military.

The four charges constituted two charges of AWOL- Absent Without Leave and two counts of doing acts contrary to section 54 of the armed forces regulations, which is on discipline.

In two words the Ghana Armed Forces dismissed Lt. Seth Oduro for going on an 'unauthorised operation'.

When the Independent spoke to Lt. Seth Oduro on the matter however, it became obvious that either there has been a misunderstanding of a sort over what he did or there has been too adamant an interpretation of the armed forces regulation, in a manner that places it outside the parameters of the surpreme interest of the republic of Ghana.

The question I want to ask the whole public, Lt. Oduro stated 'is, when (for example, you see that) somebody is stealing, do you have to go to for authorisation first or, if somebody is killing (another) do you have to go to the office to tell your CO (and then say) so, I'm going to arrest him?'

His lawyer, F. K Akwasi Opoku, of Nkrabea & Associates, has appealed against the GAF's decision in the case of Lt Seth Oduro vrs the Republic before the appeal court criminal division.

However, the substantive matter before the appeal court is whether the commanding officer in charge of the Northern Command, Lt Gen Ayiku (as he was then) had the power to constitute the General Court Marshall that gave legal backing to the decision to dismiss the infantry officer.

Giving the facts of the matter, Lt Seth Oduro said he was off duty on May 18 2003 and was out on private errand when he came across some men carting illegally chain sawn wood in a truck on the Sunyani-Chiraa road in the Brong Ahafo region.

According to him he considered it unpatriotic “to ignore something we've all been preaching against.

Lt Oduro sent the impounded truck with the beams of wood and the arrested men to 3BN, where he reported the matter to the adjutant, Captain Ben Ahadji.

The next morning he received a message that the commanding officer of the unit, Lt Col Kwame Opoku Edusei was looking for him and when he reported he was told that he had conducted an illegal operation and he was going to be put in custody.

Lt Oduro was put in custody for 110 days and in August last year he was put before a Court Marshall that backed up his dismissal.