For many people who have been critically following the happenings with regard to the killing of a young soldier at Taifa-Ashaiman in the Greater Accra Region on March 4, 2023, there is the begging issue of the roles the two top security apparatus’ in the country played.
Having been awoken by the news of the shocking killing of the young Sherriff Imoro at Ashaiman – the community he grew up in, it was an even more disturbing news when days after, there was video evidence flooding the internet of how scores of uniformed soldiers ransacked parts of Ashaiman to brutalise residents.
The visuals, which quickly went viral on social media, showed the inhumane treatments that several of the residents suffered, with little evidence of due diligence having been followed by the military men.
Soldiers brutalise Ashaiman residents:
Several reports that followed showed that the ‘hot-blooded’ soldiers had no mercy for anyone they saw, some going as far as breaking down doors just to be able to, as it was imagined, retaliate the death of one of their own. After the Ghana Army was called out by Ghanaians, the military command issued a press statement.
The statement, expected to have given clarity and brought the issues in question into better perspective, rather turned out to be what many have described as a mere show of power by the military, without any remorse whatsoever for the damage and injuries they caused.
While confirming that their men had been actually sanctioned to go into Ashaiman on that operation, the military statement said that it was only a “swoop” in search of killers of Sherrif Imoro, and not to brutalise residents of the township.
“GAF wishes to state categorically that the military operation, which was sanctioned by the Military High Command, was NOT to avenge the killing of the soldier but rather to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime,” the statement said.
Without an apology, the statement added that what the soldiers went there to do was “an intelligence-led operation conducted on suspected hideouts of criminals and crime-prone areas in the general area.”
It was an explanation that many should have just taken as it was but what the statement, signed by Brigadier-General Eric Aggrey-Quarshie, Director General, Public Relations of the GAF, subsequently added kind of defeated their earlier own words. The fact that they indeed apprehended suspects but through an intelligence-led operation which had to involve violence.
“Following the operations at Ashaiman-Taifa and Tulaku, the military personnel picked up about 184 suspects aged between 21 and 47 years old and have since handed them over to the Military Police and subsequently to be sent to the Ghana Police Service for screening and for further action.
What the Ghana Police Service found out and communicated to the public:
Having been an issue of internal crime, and as is its expectation, the Ghana Police Service issued a statement dated Sunday, March 12, 2023, that unpacked all the details related to the crime.
In the first place, the police said that it had arrested some six suspects believed to be connected with the murder of Sherrif Imoro, although all the arrests were not done on the same day and in the same locations.
“The Ghana Police Service, after a week of sustained intelligence-led operation, has arrested six persons at different dates and various locations within Ashaiman and its environs for their suspected involvement in the murder of Imoro Sherrif, a soldier,” the statement said.
Also describing their exercise as intelligence-led, the Ghana Police Service showed results in relation to the case in question, having made a total of six arrests.
In doing so, the police also indicated how they had kept the victim’s family and the military informed along the way.
“Judging from the contents of the backpack, the police suspected the victim could be a soldier, and in line with Police standard operating procedure for handling institution-based victims, the Military was accordingly notified of the incident and some military personnel came to identify the deceased to Police as Imoro Sheriff, a soldier.
“The body of the deceased was thereafter conveyed to a hospital for preservation and autopsy,” the statement added.
Play of powers in the Internal and external security of the country:
The first question that needs answers is, what kind of intelligence-led operations did the military conduct that had to involve violence, when the police had prior to their operation, conducted a similar operation, albeit without any violence, but using tactics through which they subsequently arrested some 6 suspects.
And was a military operation actually part of their core mandate?
Remember that the police had informed the military of what it had gathered from its initial investigations when it retrieved Sheriff Imoro’s body on the morning of March 4, 2023.
The military further conducted their supposed intelligence-led ‘swoop’ on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, days after the Ghana Police Service had procedurally informed the former.
And then there is the question about the roles of both the military and the police in such matters: should the Ghana Armed Forces have been so involved in internal security matters like that when the police – those mandated with that duty, were there?
While there is a policing unit of the Ghana Armed Forces, known as the Military Police, the core functions of the military remain “To formulate and implement National Defence Policies relating to peacekeeping, internal and external security and the total defence of the nation.
“Defend the territorial integrity of Ghana by Land, Sea and Air. logistics and resources to enable them function efficiently.”
The police explained that the death of the young soldier, Sheriff Imoro, happened after he came to Accra from his base in Sunyani, to attend a work-related course.
This detail was corroborated by the military statement.
The police statement of March 12 also stated that Sherriff was attacked on the dawn of March 4 after leaving the home of a female friend he had gone to visit the night before.
They confirmed that two assailants first attacked him purposely to dispossess him of his iPhone but the soldier resisted, leading to a scuffle and subsequent stabbing on the arm of Sheriff.
“Investigations further revealed that on 3rd March 2023, the deceased had visited a female friend at Ashaiman Newtown at about 10:30 pm and left the place in the middle of the night at about 01:30 am, on the 4th March 2023.
“Further investigation has established that suspects Samuel Tetteh and Abubakar Sadick at about 1:45 am on 4th March 2023 attacked the deceased at Taifa Ashiaman in an attempt to rob him of his phone and a backpack.
“The deceased, however, resisted and struggled with the suspects. During the struggle, suspect Samuel Tetteh pulled out a knife and stabbed the deceased in the arm, snatched his phone and bolted leaving the deceased with the knife stuck in his arm,” the statement added.
What happened in Ashaiman in the last week has resurrected the conversations on whether or not the military should be engaged in internal security matters as this instance was, and at what points the police should be allowed to operate within their jurisdiction.
Ultimately, the Ghana Armed Forces has been exposed by the police over what they did in Ashaiman, although it (military) has refused to apologise for it.