The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has asked the grieving family of slain soldier, Imoro Sherrif, to remain calm and have faith in the state security system, the gods of the land and the biblical God, to bring it justice in the murder of its loved one, saying “…If it is not the will of God it will never happen. Those criminals would never have succeeded. God wanted it to happen that is why He allowed it to”.
Interestingly, while consoling the bereaved family on their loss and urged them not to seek revenge, the same Mr Nitiwul, sternly warned against the killing of personnel of security agencies.
He did not apologize for the military brutalities suffered by the residents, which has been condemned resoundingly. He, however, for the first time said that the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, is very disturbed about the turn of events at Ashaiman, adding that the development “only tells us that we have a lot to do.”
“Don’t take revenge as a family and people of Ashaiman. The gods of Ghana, will answer you. I know that it is difficult for all of us, but God has a way of defending the defenceless and Ghana will defend this family and the people of Ashaiman and in doing that, we will do what is right in accordance with the law. We at the Ministry of Defence are there and will support you”, he assured.
As a Christian “…If it is not the will of God it will never happen. Those criminals would never have succeeded. God wanted it to happen that is why He allowed it to …Don’t take revenge as a family and as people of Ashaiman, the God of Ghana will answer for you. I know that it is difficult for all of us, but God has a way of defending the defenceless and Ghana will defend this family,” he said.
Imoro Sherrif, was discovered dead with stab wounds at Ashaiman Taifa on Saturday, March 4.
“Let this be the last time that men and women in uniform will be killed by the people they want to protect. Men and women in uniform – Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police, Immigration, all of them,” Mr Nitiwul warned.
Mr Nitiwu, said this when members of the Defence and Interior Committees of Parliament led by Kenney Agyapong , the Assin Central Member of Parliament (MP) paid a visit to the deceased’s family at Ashaiman Zongo Laka to express their condolences.
The committee, had a heavy armed military contingent with it. Some of them were seen holding guns inside a Pentecost church auditorium.
The Defence and Interior Committee, was on a fact-finding mission to Ashaiman to investigate circumstances leading to the death of Sherrif Imoro and the subsequent brutality meted out to residents.
He said, the death of the young soldier should be the last time a member of any of Ghana’s security agencies, will be killed by the very people they have sworn to defend.
The 22-year-old soldier with the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) band in Sunyani in the Bono Region was stabbed to death by unknown attackers. The soldier was said to be returning from his girlfriend’s house in Ashaiman-Taifa and heading toward his residence when the unfortunate incident occurred.
He has since been buried with persons believed to be his killers arrested.
The Committee’s first point of call was the residence of the deceased soldier where the Defence Minister, said the killers will be made to face the full rigours of the law.
He noted that the military brutality of the residents of Ashaiman, will be tackled at another forum.
“We will address the military action at another time but today, we are here to commiserate with the family and to let you know that the state is with you. The people of Ghana are mourning with you and will support you throughout your journey of grief and afterwards,” he stated.
“On behalf of the government, I want to extend our deepest condolences to all of you,” he added.
According to him, the Ashaiman incident will be a stepping stone to addressing some happenings in the country.
He urged Ashaiman residents to live peacefully with the security services in the area.
He also commended the Police and intelligence agencies for their swiftness in the arrest of the suspects, adding that it is welcome and has served as a relief.
He added that, “I hope our law courts will not say that justice is delayed. Justice grinds slowly, but it will surely come, but in this case, we want justice to grind very fast.”
The mother of the murdered officer, says she is devastated by the death of her son.
Afia Kyerah, says she had no idea her son was visiting Ashaiman after taking a sick leave from his base in Sunyani in the Bono Region.
Speaking to journalists, Afia Kyerah, said justice should be served.
“Sherrif didn’t have any friends, he was always with me, some neighbors were always teasing me for turning him into a mummy’s boy. I had no idea he was coming to Ashaiman, I had no idea he will die like this, his death is so painful, I’m sad and devastated,” the mother said.
Pressure group, OccupyGhana, has also condemned the killing of the young soldier and the subsequent invasion of the military in the area.
OccupyGhana, in a statement described the action of the military as “purely and simply” retaliation against the people of Ashaiman for a crime committed by a few people.
The group added that there is no justification for the pain, “suffering and torture that the soldiers visited on clearly innocent people, after the fact. Any powers of arrest that the military may claim to have, is no different from the arrest powers of any citizen of this country, as regulated by the Constitution.”
“But more importantly, we need to resolve and ensure that this does not happen again. The military must accept that under this Constitution, they cannot exercise any powers that they deem fit. The Constitution provides that they ‘be equipped and maintained to perform their role of defence of Ghana as well as such other functions for the development of Ghana as the President may determine”.
Below is the Occupyghana Press Statement entitled “Murder Of Soldier And Military Brutalities Against The People Of Ashaiman
OccupyGhana like most Ghanaians, are horrified at the senseless and barbaric killing of the young soldier, lmoro Sheriff, in Ashaiman in the early hours of 4 March 2023 by then unknown assailants. We take this opportunity to extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. We are gratified that the police appear to have concluded their investigations, and the accused persons are already before court to be tried, and if convicted, duly punished for this heinous crime.
We are equally horrified at the also barbaric, totally uncalled for, absolutely unconstitutional and unlawful reaction of the military. The risible justifications put forward by the military in the press release issued by its Department of Public Relations on 7 March 2023 have been exposed as false by the facts provided by the police in their press release dated 12 March 2023, that the unfortunate death resulted from a suspected robbery attempt. Thus, this could have happened anywhere in Ghana and to any citizen of Ghana.
What has become apparent is that the entire action by the military was purely and simply in retaliation against the people of Ashaiman for a crime committed by a few people. Clearly, had this happened to any other citizen, the military would not have intervened. The irony is that the existence of the military as a fighting force and the arms they bear and deploy are supported and supplied by the taxes of the same citizens against whom they unleashed that retaliation.
There is therefore no justification for the pain, suffering and torture that the soldiers visited on clearly innocent people, after the fact. Any powers of arrest that the military may claim to have, is no different from the arrest powers of any citizen of this country, as regulated by the Constitution. The Constitution demands ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the specific person arrested has committed an offence. A mass swoop that occurs days after an offence, and detains as many as 184 people cannot be based on any suspicion that each of them had committed the offence. And even if any such suspicion arguably existed, it would be grossly unreasonable, unwarranted and perverse. Thus, the military unjustifiably violated the constitutional right to due process of every person they detained.
Further, our venerable Constitution guarantees inviolable dignity to all Ghanaians, even if we are suspected of having committed a crime. None of us is to be subjected to ‘torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ or ‘any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from [our] dignity and worth as human beings.’ These rights of each of the Ashaiman residents have also been gravely violated. The military themselves appear to have filmed and shared videos of subjecting these citizens to unspeakable indignities, making an absolute and total a farce of what our Constitution represents and what they see their role in the Ghanaian society as. With these barbaric acts, they made themselves, judge, jury and executioner, and a very terrible one at that!
The accused persons are facing the law, and rightly so. The perpetrators of these violations must also face the law. First, the military personnel involved and every officer who authorised those actions must be tried. Second, officers and supervisors who endorsed the acts after they happened must resign. Third, the High Command of the military must apologise to everyone the military subjected to these violations. And, fourth, the state must compensate each affected person.
But more importantly, we need to resolve and ensure that this does not happen again. The military must accept that under this Constitution, they cannot exercise any powers that they deem fit. The Constitution provides that they ‘be equipped and maintained to perform their role of defence of Ghana as well as such other functions for the development of Ghana as the President may determine.’ Thus, the only reasons we equip and maintain the military are (i) the ‘defence of Ghana,’ and (ii) development functions determined by the President, which do not include what they did to the people of Ashaiman on 4 March 2023.
The military and all other security agencies are supposed to protect the people of Ghana, not turn on us. It is high time they acknowledged this. We demand this for God and Country.