Last updated on June 2nd, 2023 at 07:05 am
Have you read the most popular post on Peter’s Box?
Don’t forget to read my previous post, “Bury Me Alive – Dying Out Loud.” In today’s piece, I discuss the military raid in Ashaiman that occurred in response to the death of a young soldier. Please share your opinions with me in the comments section.
A soldier is murdered in Ashaiman
The events that followed the death of a young soldier, Sherif Imoro, 21, in the Ashaiman neighbourhood of Accra, had Ghanaians talking. This is a rundown of what transpired. The news of the death of a young soldier in Ashaiman dominated the early morning hours of March 4, 2023. The soldier, who had been granted sick leave, was on his way home when he was accosted by a gang of individuals. He fought back, and as a result of the several stabbings that followed, he died. His assailants fled with his possessions.
The military raids Ashaiman
The dawn of March 7, the airwaves carried the chilling news of the military raiding Ashaiman. It looked like a movie. On the video footage shared on social media, you could even see a military helicopter hovering over Ashaiman. The soldiers rummaged through every nook and cranny, fishing for perpetrators. Some of the inhabitants of Ashaiman, all men, were filed and drilled under the soldiers’ instructions. This was simply not a pretty sight! The objective of the military attack was as enigmatic as the tales surrounding the soldier’s death. “Will the military raid fix the problem?” well-meaning Ghanaians asked.
Two days after the military operation, the police department issued a statement informing the public of the arrest of suspects in the soldier’s murder case. The military raid was the turning point in the series of events that got Ghanaians talking. Below are some of the many notable Ghanaian viewpoints.
- What transpired in Ashaiman comes as no surprise. They are often in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
- The military has no authority to raid Ashaiman. This is a matter that the police department should solve.
- It’s a good thing the military raided Ashaiman. They deserved such an incident to help them repair their reputation.
- The police force is capable of performing a fantastic job, and they have shown it! They performed brilliantly.
Two wrongs make a...?
Ashaiman is well-known for being a tough place to live. A decaying community that erupts at every opportunity. In an interview I chanced upon, an inhabitant stated, ‘It is believed that many Ashaiman police are crooked. They will free a criminal if you turn them in. As a result, the military did not trust the police to do a competent job. Since the victim was a military official, the military decided to take matters into their hands.’ Many people say Ashaiman is completely decadent—the hub of all social vices.
Several Ghanaians condemned the military’s attitude. They claimed that the military was undermining police authority. Allow the police to perform their jobs! The military intervention constituted a violation of civil rights. Why would you humiliate innocent people?
Several people applauded the military’s conduct. They viewed it as two wrongs making a right. Discipline is something Ashaiman needs, and here is their chance to get it. They claimed that Ashaiman’s desire to engage in vices would significantly lessen following this military spectacle.
Yet, the patriots backed the police’s competence to track down the criminals. Notwithstanding the general public’s doubts about the police force’s integrity and efficacy, the patriots were vindicated. What’s more, guess what? None of the guys rounded up by the military were among the five suspects apprehended by the police. Isn’t that fascinating?
But I have a different perspective on the events. These genuine questions pepper my perspective.
- Did the military invade Ashaiman because they didn’t believe the police would catch the criminals?
- Did the police solve the case swiftly because the murder victim was a public officer—one of their kind?
- If the police solved this case swiftly, why haven’t similar cases involving ordinary civilians been solved?
There have been several sensitive criminal cases, where the performance of the Ghana Police Service in solving them was very poor. The confidence of most Ghanaians in the capability of the Ghana Police Service is close to zilch. Some would even go as far as saying that, they would rather resolve a case by themselves than count on the Police. Was this the same reasoning used by the military? And is the military justified as well? Did the police solve this case quickly because they owed it the victim who is a security officer like them? Do we all not wish that the attitude of the police in solving this case, should be the same attitude towards all cases, regardless of the status of the victim?
Law and order
Law and order are inextricably linked. Laws are established to maintain order. Any deviation from the law destroys social order. I define order in the last three phrases as the accuracy of obeying the law. This is to argue that when laws are broken, conflict and chaos ensue. As a result, laws must be followed in order to maintain social order. Eventually, a day of disobedience will arrive because of our flawed human nature. Recognizing this truth has led to the establishment of law enforcement. The term “law enforcement” refers to the institutions and personnel tasked with upholding the rule of law, preserving public safety, and enforcing other legal obligations.
Law Enforcement Agency
The Ghana Police Service is the country’s primary law enforcement agency. It is organized at the national level and is led by the Inspector General of Police (IGP). Notwithstanding, there are several regional and divisional commands, all subordinate to the National Headquarters in Accra. Most countries do not consider the military to be a law enforcement organization. Yet, a recognized law enforcement agency exists within the military. They are known as the military police.
Military police (MP) are law enforcement forces that are affiliated with or part of a state’s military. Military police officers’ status is generally visible on their helmets, with an armband, brassard, or arm or shoulder flash. The military police of Ghana are clearly recognizable by their red armbands bearing the black letters “MP.” They have exclusive authority over the armed forces.
The order of things
The military police’s responsibilities include:
- Managing physical security duties by guarding personnel and key installations with access controls.
- Maintaining Law and Order (first within the military, then over the general populace, as directed)
- Overseeing combat activities.
- Countering Terrorism.
I thus expect to see either the police or the military police, not the military, maintain law and order. Would there be any sanctions for the military in this incident when a military raid violated the human rights of innocent men?
Human rights violation
Yes! It concerns human rights in this case. This needs to be taken seriously in a country where the Constitution is the bedrock and human rights are valued highly. You may argue that the military was simply employing scare tactics. But to what end? Revenge for the death of a colleague? Yet none of the people held by the police were among those who were apprehended by the military during the raid! Can you understand where I’m trying to go with this? If it turns out that a civilian was injured during the military attack, will justice be served? Will the civilians be compensated as well?
In my opinion, the area of uncertainty is who watches over the watchman. Because the law has been entrusted to law enforcement, particularly the military, they appear to be above the law! Carefully read the previous sentence. Did you see my mistake? Despite not being a law enforcement organization, the military sometimes behaves like one. Why shouldn’t law enforcement agencies be governed by laws? If that’s the case, it should be made known to the public. We cannot have rights that we do not understand. After all, we fight for our rights!
During the lockdown, I wished I could have spoken up for Ama’s rights. On her way to work, she ran into a law enforcement officer. The law at the time declared that only essential workers might commute to work. Stay at home if you are not an essential worker. Even for essential workers, only a limited number were permitted in an office. For such essential workers, the government granted identity cards.
The taxi Ama was sitting in was stopped at a checkpoint on this fateful day for routine checks. Passengers were asked to show their ID cards. Ama presented her ID card. To verify her identity, the officer requested that she provide her national identification card. That was produced as well. The officer questioned, “Why is your surname different on your national identity card?” Ama’s face was startled by a hard smack from the police before she could offer an explanation. Ama had to request sick leave from work that week. She had begun to have severe eye discomfort. Ama’s eye finally needed surgery because the discomfort was so severe. Ama is wearing glasses today.
And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t for fashion. Ama’s eyes are always filled with extreme discomfort when the sun shines! All because a police officer felt entitled by the law to assert his authority for an unknown reason. He considered himself the law and didn’t follow the procedures laid down by law enforcement, which I highly doubt existed in this instance. How different was the mindset of this officer from that of the military personnel that stormed Ashaiman?
Maybe if Ama had been a security officer, justice would have been served. And her case would have been solved swiftly. But shouldn’t we be guided by the principles of the Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance, which put every individual in the same position for the sake of being treated fairly even if you belong to a different class, gender, economic status, etc? The question then remains! When order disregards the law and twists it, who returns order to the law? Because next time it might not be Ama or the unfortunate civilians rounded up in Ashaiman, but you!
What’s next in Peter’s Box? ¡Hasta luego amigos!