On Commando Training For Double & Others
Brigadier Gen. Thomas Oppong-Peprah Maj. Gen. William Azure Ayamdo
The Commission probing the gun violence that characterized the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in January this year, is rounding up its public sitting, but without any signal that any member of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) high command, would be appearing before it to testify.
A crucial witness, Bright Ernest Akomea alias “Double” who appeared before the Commission, confirmed reports of his Commando training at the training camp of the GAF’s 64 Infantry Regiment at Asutsuare in the Greater Accra Region, but there are no indications that, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa, would be invited as happened in the case of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), David Asante-Appeatu.
“Double”, an activist of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), had disclosed that he went through a three-week training at the Ghana Army facility after his recruitment two years ago, and many were expecting the Emile Short Commission to questioned officials of the GAF on the circumstances surrounding the Commando training given him and his armed militia gang, whose pictures are making the rounds, on the military drills at the Asutsuare 64 Military Training Camp.
Checks by The Herald as at yesterday, showed that neither the CDS, Lt. Gen. Akwa, nor the Chief of Army Staff, Major General William Ayamdo or the General Officer Commander of the Southern Command, Brigadier General Thomas Oppong Peprah, have been listed to appear on the use of the state facility to train political party activists in weapon handling among other military tactics in 2017.
Instead, the name listed to be heard as the last witnesses were; Superintendent Kingsley Aboagye, the Crime Officer at the East Legon Police Station in Accra, Hamidu Amadu SedofuTheophilus and Seidu Hudu.
Double, who is currently working as a National Security Operative at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), also revealed to the Short probe, he was an NPP executive.
He said, until his employment and training at Asutsuare, as National Security Operative, he was selling mobile phones at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra.
In his testimony to the Commission, Mr Akomea, also revealed he became a member of the National Security Council, after undergoing three weeks of security training in map reading, weapon handling, combat training and the usage of the Gotta communication gadget in Asutsuare, and was later assigned to man the KIA.
Double, became a person of interest to the Commission in the ongoing probe when the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam Nartey George, testified before the Commission that he (Double) was among the masked national security operatives, who shot into a crowd that had gathered at the residence of the NDC’s parliamentary candidate, Mr Delali Kwasi Brempong, which injured 16 victims.
“Shots were immediately fired into the air. I immediately took cover against a wall and stood against it. Because the next 60 seconds appeared to be stuff from an action movie. I saw a number of the armed men pull out their side weapons and fire into the direction of the crowd. I saw Double [a National Security operative] pull out his AK-47 and fire. The gun jammed; I saw him clear his chamber, reload the gun and fired several rounds from his AK-47,” Mr. Sam George told the Commission when he appeared earlier.
Double, however, denied ever shooting during his testimony.
Elements within the NDC had claimed that the members of that SWAT unit who were involved in the shooting incident on the day of the by-election were members of pro-government militia group Invincible Forces, but Double denied being a member of any militia group and said he was legitimately enlisted into the national security set-up and had undergone three weeks of training.
“I saw an announcement that the National Security was recruiting and I applied. I met a panel and my fingerprints were taken. I was trained for three weeks in map reading, light weapon handling and crowd control,” he said.
The Commission is to make recommendations to forestall violence in future elections.
64 Infantry Regiment as it is today started as Forces Reserve Unit (FRU) in 1982 then to Forces Reserve Battalion (FRB) in 1986 before finally being designated 64 Infantry Regiment in 1993.
The Forces Reserve Unit (FRU) was instituted at Gondar Barracks in 1982 as a composite Unit of Platoons from existing Units in support of the 31 December 1981 Revolution. The FRU attained the status of a permanent Unit by 1986 when it was designated the Forces Reserve Battalion (FRB) with the role of Personal Security and other Specialist Tasks. The FRB came under command and control of GHQ in May 1988, having previously been under the PNDC (COS).
The 64 Infantry Regiment was formed from the FRB at Gondar Barracks, Burma Camp, on 1 July 1993. On its establishment, it was made the Very Important Persons Protection Unit (VIPPU). The Unit presently consists of an HQ Coy, 3 Rifle Coys, Sp Coy and a Training School at the Asutsuare Training Camp (ASTC).
Since its inception, the Regiment has provided troops for the following International Peacekeeping Operations: UNIFIL, UNAMIR, UNTAC, ECOMOG, UNMIL, MONUC, UNAMSIL, and UNOCI. The unit as a Battalion has also served on UNAMSIL Ghanbatt 4, MONUC Ghanbatt 5 and UNIFIL Ghanbatt 64.
On the local front, Troops of the Regiment were promptly deployed for pacific operations during Operation GONGON (Nanumba-Kokomba Conflict) in 1994 as one of the lead elements in that Operation. It has also led or joined in numerous other local Internal Security Operations.
The Regiment provided the bulk of the 200-man Company Task Force for Operation OGYEFO which was to undertake the evacuation of Ghanaian citizens from Sierra Leone following the Coup in that country on 25 May 1997.