Ghana's military risks UN sanctions over weapons smuggling by soldiers

CDS, Lt Gen. Akwa, Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwu and Chief of Army Staff Major Gen. Oppong-Peprah CDS, Lt Gen. Akwa, Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwu and Chief of Army Staff Major Gen. Oppong-Peprah

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) appears embarrassed by the activities of it men breaking United Nations (UN) guidelines on arms and ammunition by smuggling deadly weapons into their home country, while on Peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

The military is disturbed that these dangerous objects are contributing massively to the worrying proliferation of guns among civilians.

An internal investigation conducted by the Military High Command, expressed worry that such negative conducts could spell doom for Ghana, leading to the UN sanctioning the country's soldiers.

Military investigators warned that "this development if heard in Lebanon, has the potential of tarnishing the image of the Ghana Armed Forces and to a large extent destroying the reputation of the Ghana Armed Forces in other United Nations peacekeeping theatres".

A copy of the report in the possession of The Herald, is convinced the illegal buying and selling of firearms by its men while serving on the missions, is contributing to armed robbers terrorizing and killing Ghanaians with highly sophisticated weapons.

The report had noted that "the idea of some personnel of GAF to buy and smuggle firearms from operational areas was probably for onward sale to others, including civilians.

"Such unrestricted sale of arms and ammunition has the potential of releasing arms and ammunition into the hands of armed robbers, who terrorize citizens in the country", adding it is therefore unfortunate that military personnel who are to be interested in retrieving these firearms from unscrupulous people are rather perpetuating the crime", the report observed.

The document classified as "confidential" implicates six of its men.The document gave the names of the officers and numbers as; 188240 WO1Awaya Inusah stationed at MATS Headquarters, 189243 WOII Dagadu Patrick from Headquarters of the Southern Command, then 191168 PO1 Quainoo Paul Kumi Yaw, said to be stationed at WNC.

The rest are, 192633 SGT Adu-Ofori Amos of Base Workshop, 194591 SGT Yentumi-Afful Ernest also of the Base Workshop, as well as 195033 POII Kojovie Paul Sena of the GNS Bonsu.

Two of the solders "WOII Dagadu and POII Kojovie, were escorted to Tema Community 1 cemetery where two (2) pistols with one fake pistol were retrieved.

They both claimed ownership of the pistols. WOII Dagadu, claimed ownership of one of the pistols and POII Kojovie claimed ownership of the other one, as well as the fake pistol", part of the confidential military report said.

Aside the cemetery, some of the rogue soldiers, had hidden theirs in a toilet facility at the military barracks.

The investigation was done by the Military Police, but interestingly, the army has since 2017, failed to deal with its lawless men by hauling them before its Court Martial, although it sounds worried about the activities of its men, expressing concerns about the repercussion it will have on the Ghana Army, should the details of the investigative piece, get to Lebanon and the United Nations (UN).

Details of the document, done by the Special Investigation Branch Ghana Military Police and signed by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col. F.K Bannerman (GH3004), revealed that on the blindside of the public, these contingents of Ghanaian army officers assigned to war-torn countries, end up smuggling weapons consisting of pistols, pump action guns and others, under the cover of darkness into the country.

It warned that "this development if heard in Lebanon, has the potential of tarnishing the image of the Ghana Armed Forces and to a large extent destroying the reputation of the Ghana Armed Forces in other United Nations peacekeeping theatres", the document stated in parts.

It continued that, "despite the efforts made by the Ghana Armed Forces and other Security agencies to eradicate the proliferation of weapons in the country, it is regrettable that troops, who are supposed to protect the citizens of the country are rather importing arms into the country. The suspects committed the offence of importing and unlawful possession of firearms".

It is intriguing how army officers, who are one of the best paid security agencies, will go to the extent of smuggling these weapons, but the report said that the officers were just enthused about the monetary gains they could derive from the act, rather than the harm it could cause the nation and their own image.

The Command concludes, the action of the men, was highly unprofessional and must not be disregarded.

"During the investigation, it was realized that some of the soldiers specifically bought and smuggled the weapons into the country to sell and make profit. These soldiers, who found out that the price of the weapons at operational area was cheap, decided to purchase and smuggle them to Ghana to sell and make profit.

It is worthy to note that, these soldiers only thought of the profit they would make from the sale of these weapons without thinking about the implications. The actions and conduct of the soldiers who purchased and transported the weapons to Ghana, were unprofessional and cannot be overlooked".

Lt Col. Bannerman, could not understand why the troops admitted that they were warned to desist from the purchase of firearms, as contained in the Command Police Guidelines pages 17-18 serials 75 and 76 (Prohibited Goods) of the UN GHANBATT also buttressed the issue, the suspects agreed to undertake the task to transport the prohibited items they purchased and even devised a means of transporting it to Ghana without it being detected.

"It could be said that their actions were planned and orchestrated to outwit authorities to which they were successful. Their decision to contravene the policies of command speaks volumes against their conduct as professional soldiers. It is also telling on the adverse effect that such conduct would cause to the image of the Ghana Armed Forces. The suspect committed the offence of purchasing of firearms contrary to the GHANBIATT command policy".

The Commanding Officer, Lt Col. F.K Bannerman (GH3004), led investigative piece commenced in September 2017, during which time many rounds of arrests and trips to the homes of these officers was concluded in November 2017, but the final report was issued on February 9, 2018.

The over three years-old document was marked "confidential" and titled "Alleged importation and unlawful possession of fire arms".

The Ghanaian army contingents, have over the years kept a clean sheet abstaining from all forms of illegitimate activities earning them several accolades and praise.

But the report narrates that, WO1 Awaya Inusah stationed at MATS Headquarters, arranged for the firearms from a Lebanon arms dealer, whilst theywere on the mission with the five others, but his colleagues also expressed interest in the illegal act and went ahead to purchase same.

Another officer, Sgt Yentumi-Afful, a vehicle mechanic bought an AUDI engine and fashioned a sea freight box to help him convey the engine to Ghana.

"In order to outwit authorities and so successfully transport the weapons, Sgt Yentumi-Afful sought the ideas of both SgtAdu-Ofori Amos and POII,Quainoo, who advised him to create a sea freight box with a double layered compartment to help them conceal the weapons they bought in Lebanon.

The Police, has in the past been alleged to be involved in the business of hiring and selling official weapons to civilians and armed robbers but now, the once disciplined uniformed men, have had some of it officers disrespecting the laws, as they smuggle arms and sell to criminals.

More to come!