There was a deficit of common sense in Wednesday’s fracas which saw soldiers and police officers clash at Tamale, political commentator, Sydney Casely Hayford has said.
Describing the cause of the clash as trivial, he said it was a marker for a lack of training and discipline within the respective forces.
Some soldiers in the Northern Regional capital went on a rampage and were initially said to have attacked police officers and some residents following the arrest of their colleague.
A soldier had assaulted a taxi driver over a dispute and was reported to the police.
When a subsequent attempt to detain the soldier and arraign him was made, the issue erupted into the widely condemned clash after both the police and soldiers called for reinforcements when the incident occurred.
But speaking on The Big Issue, Mr. Casely Hayford bemoaned the fact that what ensued could have been avoided with some restraint.
“…That becomes a war, that somebody is calling for reinforcements. So what were they going to do? They were going to shoot each other because of this? You see, it doesn’t make any sense. What it simply says is that the kind of training and discipline we are giving to both parties is totally and woefully inadequate.”
“Somebody should have had enough common sense to say we cannot do this. If the military man protested that today my [senior] officer is not here, now you are sending me to court, a policeman should have said: hold on, he is right.”
Details emerging on the incident
The Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces have set up a committee of police and military personnel in the region to probe the incident.
Indications are that a detailed statement on the matter will be released later next week, according to a retired army chief, Captain Ebenezer Budu Koomson, who has gathered some more details on the incident from conversations with senior officials of the police and military.
Also speaking on The Big Issue, he observed that “the narrative out there in the public is also skewed to people’s perception and emotions.”
Captain Budu Koomson said the police want to be afforded more time ascertain the facts of the incident because “when something happens and you call your juniors in the field, they will give you a situation that will make them look good. Each side will give a situation that will make them look good.”
He elaborated on the military protocol when a soldier is reported for a crime, which dictates that when a case is reported to the police station, the solider is expected to give his identification and make known his commanding officer.
“The police is to immediately inform his unit and his commander that his personnel has fallen foul of the law and they arrange to transfer the solider from police custody to military custody… once that has been done, the military will have to detail a senior officer to the one who is at fault to always escort the one at fault to either the police or the court anytime he is needed,” he explained.
Protocols were followed in this instance until the day the soldier in question’s commanding officer could not make it to the station.
The commanding officer followed protocol and informed the police that the accused soldier would still make his appearance as scheduled.
According to him, when the officer reported to the station he was told he was going to be hurled before a court. The soldier tried to call his commanding officer but was prevented and the issue escalated into a fight.
The solider was restrained with handcuffs but he managed to escape police custody.
“When they cuffed him and this altercation was happening, apparently, a lady or someone by who saw that it was a soldier being beaten by police also informed a post nearby where soldiers [were stationed]. Meanwhile, this boy after the struggle actually managed to run from there towards the military detail. In the process, when the guy was running, the police… shouted thief.”
When police got to the military post, the other soldiers lept to fellow soldiers defence.
“When the police called in the reinforcements and the soldiers also called in the reinforcements and the rest is history,” Captain Budu Koomson concluded his narration.