STORY: Kwame Asare Boadu & Enoch Darfah Frimpong, Kumasi
SOLDIERS from the Fourth Garrison in Kumasi have gone on rampage, brutalising more than a dozen policemen at various duty posts in the Kumasi metropolis and leaving three of them unconscious.
In their two-day assault, the soldiers also vandalised property at some police stations and caused some policemen to flee their duty posts.
According to Chief Inspector Yusif Mohammed Tanko in charge of the Public Affairs Directorate of the Ashanti Regional Police Command, the series of attacks began at the Cedar Crescent traffic lights, near the Kotoko training ground, about 4 p.m. last Friday.
He said the traffic lights were off at the time and so two policemen, Constables Abbass Aidoo and David Wahyee, had been detailed to direct traffic at that busy joint.
While the two were on duty, a man riding an unregistered motorcycle without a crash helmet came along and the two policemen stopped the motorcycle and questioned the rider, who later identified himself as a military man.
According to the police, in the course of the interrogation, the rider got infuriated and sped off, after he had threatened to bring his colleagues to assault the policemen.
Chief Inspector Tanko said about 5 p.m. on the same day, three other policemen — Inspector Jacob Gyekye, Lance Corporal Opoku Agyemang Prempeh and Constable Hannah Serwah — who were directing traffic at the Bekwai Roundabout saw a number of military men in a military vehicle which had its headlights on.
Thinking that the soldiers were on their way to perform an official duty, the policemen said they paved the way for them to pass by stopping other vehicles.
However, the soldiers first went to the Cedar Crescent traffic lights where they brutally assaulted Constables Aidoo and Wahyee, tearing their uniforms into pieces in the process.
According to the Police PRO, from there, the soldiers attacked any policeman on sight, including the three at the Bekwai Roundabout who had earlier stopped traffic for the soldiers to pass.
The three policemen reported the incident to the Regional Police Headquarters, where they were issued with medical forms to attend hospital about 5:45 p.m.
Chief Inspector Tanko said about 7 p.m., another policeman, Lance Corporal C. K. Mensah, stationed at Nkawie, was assaulted by some military men at the Sofoline area while he was driving to his station.
That same night, a group of military men in three military vehicles attacked policemen at the Suame Police Station and vandalised their radio equipment and other property, while Corporal G. K. Amedzo, Constable E. Ofosuhene and Constable F. O. Boateng who were on duty at the station were severely assaulted.
After the police station attacks, the military men were said to have proceeded to the front of the Suame Ghana Water Company offices where policemen on night duty had mounted a barrier and attempted to attack them but the policemen managed to escape.
About 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, the military men continued the assault with an attack on some Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) officials on duty at the Sofoline area.
According to Chief Inspector Tanko, three policemen — Sergeant Peter Oppong, Sergeant E. Obuoman and Lance Corporal Zab Tetteh Mensah — were attacked with hammers and left unconscious.
They were later sent to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) for treatment.
It would be recalled that on May 20, 2010, two military men got infuriated by a decision of MTTU officials at Suame to question their driver who was driving without a log book and a driver’s licence.
The two went to the barracks and mobilised their colleagues to assault the police at Suame and fired some gunshots.
Then on May 22, 2010, another soldier who drove carelessly at Asokwa attacked an MTTU officer who tried to point out to him that what he was doing was not good.
Chief Inspector Tanko said the matter had since been reported to the Military High Command, adding that it would be reported to National Security as well.
“This will not deter us from continuing with our duties,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Lt Gen Joseph Henry Smith (retd), has confirmed that the matter has been brought to his notice, reports Michael Donkor.
In an interview, Lt Gen Smith said as soon as the news on the alleged assault got to him, he quickly contacted the Interior Minister to discuss how to resolve the matter.
He said they thoroughly checked on what the situation was and were told that senior commanders had already moved in to restore calm and order.
He further explained that he had been informed that a policeman was alleged to have first assaulted a military man on a motorbike after the soldier had shown the policeman his identity card that he was from the military.
He said the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Northern Command, Brigadier-General Chris Ocran, had personally visited one of the policemen who were admitted at the hospital.
He said the police and the military had also held a social activity to cement the peace.
Lt Gen Smith said the two security agencies were sister institutions working together to maintain peace and appealed to them to endeavour to resort to the appropriate channels should one wrong the other.
Lance Corporal Mensah is still in critical condition at KATH and is receiving medical attention.
He was said to have been hit in the head with a hammer by the soldiers who had attacked him and two of his colleagues while they were on duty at the Sofoline area around 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.