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My name is Lt Col (Rtd) Edward Affainie. The gruesome killing of Capt Mahama is a clarion call to the Military High Command to do an inhouse cleaning.
I joined the military at a very tender just after my GCE Advanced Level education. During our enlistment my best friend and i were awaiting our results. I retired as a Lt Col having served in a various capacities from platoon level, instructor at the Military Academy, through to the Army Headquarters level and ended my carrier in December 2010 as Deputy Director for Peacekeeping Operations at the Army HQ.
As a young officer in Tamale I participated in internal security operations in Ghana’s Northern Region. I was Adjutant 6BN when a Task Force was setup for Operation Gongon IV and that was when my eyes got opened to actual risk of our job. This is not the first time a soldier has been killed by the very people he was sent to protect but thanks social media, this time it was brought to public notice otherwise the military would have kept it within.
As a young Adjutant, I received bodies of officers who were murdered by the people they went to protect. Some of the bodies were brought decomposed because they were not found on time. In one instance, a ditch was dugged and covered as an ambush for the military commander and his men. Once they fell into the ditch, they were killed by the villagers, the military vehicle and their bodies burnt and weapons taken. This was in the 90’s during Rawlings era. As if that was not enough, a young officer who is now a Col and very good friend of mine was to be courtmartialled for saving a situation in Tamale. What was his crime? The officer who got killed in the first incident was an intake mate to this young officer and the young officer had asked permission to attend the burial of the officer killed. Whilst coming from where he was deployed, he got to Tamale township and the town had been besieged by the locals who were even marching to ADB bank to break into the bank. Troops from Airforce were trying to contain the situation by firing warning shots but the people believed their Juju was working and decided to pounce on the troops.
The Commanding Officer 6BN (May his soul rest in perfect peace) was caught up in this incident at bank with his driver and body guard. This officer had to fight his way through and rescue his Commanding Officer to the Barracks. Unfortunately innocent people were hit by stray bullets when he deployed his men to fire for effect ( an order which stopped the rampage in the town). The Defence Minister whose wife later became an attorney general in Ghana, wanted to appease his people by sacrificing the military. He led a committee to the Task Force HQ and that was when the Task Force Commander stoop up for this officer and said he should be court martialled instead. What saved this young officer? As the committee went to the hospital at the barracks to visit victims who got injured a military vehicle brought another young officer shot with an arrow in his mouth. Oh God! This was a young officer I had sent to go and bring seized weapons and they were ambushed by the people whose weapons were seized. Now the committe realised the military had a case and that was what saved my friend.
I remember the Task Force commander being issued with statements from Castle to make. Some he did not agree with. Rawlings himself had to come to the North because he felt what the soldiers felt. It was at this point 64 Infantry was brought in to help contain the situation.
My question is must somebody always sacrifice his life before we put our house in order? Like the soldiers said at the durbar, internal security is the work of the police and the military comes in when the police cannot contain the situation so why are we at the forefront? We have even been accused by the minister of lands so why are we still deploying troops for this type of operation when this is the time for the police to respond. Why cant we explain to the politicians and withdraw our troops to the barracks? Is there any gain the troops are not aware of?
I have personally worked with the CDS and have confidence in him. I humbly plead with him to take a second look at the deployment of troops on some of these operations and come up with some directives. We cannot afford to make more wives “husbandless” and more children fatherless. Please hear the cries of wives and children and pull the troops back. We are in a constitutional government so let us allow the police to take the lead in this galamsey operation. Please listen to your troops. They say bring them home. They want to die in battle whilst defending the nation by air, land or sea even at the perils of their lives and not to be killed this way by the very people they are sent to protect. These innocent killings have gone on for long without notice and the blood of Captain Mahama says enough is enough. Let no more military blood be shed this way. Let us take politics out of the military and tell the politicians what they must hear and not what they want to hear. The soldiers have experiences they cannot share because they are still in uniform but let us listen to their plea when they say they should be withdrawn from such missions. Do not wait to hear soldiers killing people in such areas in self defence before you attempt courtmatialling them to please politicians. Please pull all of them out and bring them home. Enough is enough. We have paid our dues to mother Ghana. Please stop sacrificing our lives and that of our innocent wives and children. This is not what we bargained for when we swore to oath of allegiance. We have allowed this impunity to go on for long and it has reached a stage we have to review our modus operandi. I hope the committee set up by the CDS will live up to the expectation of troops by coming up with realistic and workable recommendations.
May the gentle soul of Capt Mahama and the souls of all our fallen comrades rest in perfect peace.
Source: Lt Col (Rtd) Edward Affainie