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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Columnist: SaCut, Amenga-Etego

The escape of Private Goka--a vindication of JJ Rawlings!

Does it really surprise anybody that one of the army officers accused of Killing Issah Mobilla has 'strategically escaped' from military custody? And how long did it take him to escape after the Dec. election? I 'm told as far back as March 2009, and how do you explain the fact that this officer's AWOL went unnoticed by government until it was revealed in court just a week or so ago?

I have heard arguments made by various apologists of government claiming that it is the military top hierarchy that must explain how and why Private Seth Goka was allowed to escape from custody. I'm tempted to ask if these apologists are suggesting that they are unaware the President is the commander-in-chief of the Ghana armed forces, and therefore answerable to the people he promised justice and accountability?

The director of public affairs for the Ghana armed forces was unequivocal in his narration just the other day. Contrary to the court order that these alleged murderers of Issah Mobilla be kept in Military custody--in guard room-- the former commanders--who stayed on in-charge of command for well over six months into the Mills government--decided to put these men on normal duties as though they had never been charged with a crime. According to col. Emmanuel Nibo, the men were part of 'operation calm life'--an anti armed robbery operation launched by the armed forces early this year. The PRO could not explain why soldiers accused of murdering a civilian would be deployed to go curb armed robbery. ''I don’t know the circumstances under which they were given that laxity to be on that operation...this was an arrangement made by the previous administration, so they were in the barracks living like they are normal soldiers''. He explained on joy fm's news file on Saturday.

Well, it is not difficult to read between the lines--unless you just decide to over look the obvious truths exposed in this saga. The first issue I want to raise is whether this unsolved murder was, and is still important to the NDC party and government? I know for a fact that it was seminal, even crucial during opposition. It was even a campaign promise 'to get to the bottom' of this case once the NDC was in government. But it will seem to me that this is once again another result of due diligence.

We all know that soldiers take orders from their superiors or commanders. And these soldiers who allegedly murdered Issah Mobilla were brought back to Accra and placed in 1BN where their commanders gave them every indication that there won't be any prosecution. Yes, the indication was very clear in their decision to let them live like normal soldiers, and even go on operations. Col. Nibo added, ''So when the new administration came in and I think there were these indications that the alleged killers would be prosecuted - the arrangement in 1BN is that when you go on that operation and you come back you take two days off - so with that indication in mind when he went on duty, this was on 15/16 March and when he returned to the barracks, before he was to report for the next duty, he has disappeared''.

This is absolutely ridiculous! Why, the commander in-chief who is president Mills should have known all these arrangements and indications before 15/16 March. The president should have changed these commanders immediately to thwart all these schemes. And the president could have ensured that these alleged murderers were kept in the guard room as ordered by the courts of Ghana. But that is if the President was serious about ‘getting to the bottom of this’. Instead, the president came with a new mantra of due diligence which meant in other words--keeping the old machinery and structure even if the end result is perversion of justice as we are beginning to see now.

Private Goka is now at large. And I'm sure the man who was found with the decapitated head of the YAA NAA in broad day light on the street of Yendi is also safely enjoying immunity else where outside of our jurisdiction. In my books, the NDC government has largely shown lack of seriousness about justice and accountability especially regarding these two heinous crimes which undoubtedly had official sanction in their commission.

For anybody to suggest that the military high command is complacent in this matter and must be explaining to Ghanaians without metastasizing it to the commander-in-chief for his timely inaction is untenable. It is obvious from the statements made by the army PRO that President Mills was not on top of his brief as commander-in-chief whiles the previous command was still in place. The old commanders were taking decisions that were at variance with the agenda of the new government. And this was exactly when Former President JJRawlings insisted that that action or inaction of the president to maintain the old commanders was detrimental to the promised change agenda of the NDC government. His comments were taken very lightly--if at all. And now his vindication has come.

I wonder how long it would take my people in government to take off the veil of power and listen to wise counsel before we reach that undesirable point where the people of Ghana will become implacable. We cannot pretend that the NDC's victory in 2008 was a fluke. That will be an illusion. It was based on solid promises that informed the decision of voters to give power back to the NDC. And these promises we must fulfill. As one of my comrades will say, it is one thing winning power, and another thing sustaining it.

More time.

Comrade Amenga-Etego SaCut (General Secretary) Youth for Leadership in Ghana