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Catholic Bishops in Ghana Decry Military Brutality, Urge Independent Inquiry into Assaults

Some members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Ghana have condemned the alleged use of excessive force by the country’s military on some residents of Wa town in Upper West Region within the Catholic Diocese of Wa.

In their Friday, July 2 statement, members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) call for an independent probe into the alleged assaults by members of the West African country’s military. 

On Thursday, July 1, the military reportedly attacked tricycle operators in Wa town, an action that is said to have been triggered by the theft of a mobile phone belonging to one of the public service operators.

At least fourteen people, two among them in critical condition, are seeking treatment at the Wa Municipal Hospital following the July 1 attack, according to a local media report.

In their statement, the Catholic Bishops say they are “horrified to see videos of brutalities and inhumane treatments meted out to innocent citizens in the Upper West Regional Capital, Wa, by a group of military men.”

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They express their sympathy with “the victims and pray for healing for those undergoing treatment at the hospital.”

Following the alleged brutalities, Ghana’s Military High Command has promised to conduct investigations into the “unprofessional conduct” of the soldiers who reportedly attacked residents of Wa city.

On July 3, Ghana’s Chief of Army Staff, Major General Thomas Oppong, led a delegation of other officers to the Traditional Council of Wa to offer an apology for the alleged actions by the military.

The Major General also assured the people of Wa that the perpetrators of the attack will be brought to book.

In the July 2 statement obtained by ACI Africa, GCBC members commend the Military High Command for the assurance that those found guilty will be appropriately sanctioned.

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“We, however, call for an independent investigation based on previous events that are still fresh in the minds of all Ghanaians where investigations into similar incidents… yielded nothing,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana say in the statement signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh.

The Catholic Bishops further say that Ghanaian citizens “are gradually losing trust in the ability of our security agencies to handle cases involving one of their own effectively and competently to the satisfaction of all.”

For this reason, GCBC members call on the government, “especially the President, to show true leadership by sanctioning all whose actions and inactions have resulted in the unfortunate happenings in recent times.”

“It is our hope and prayer that this investigation and all other investigations will be done speedily and devoid of politics for the good of our country,” the Catholic Bishops say, adding that Ghanaians “cannot continue to live in fear as a people due to the unprofessional behavior of some miscreants belonging to our security forces.”

They demand that the laws of the West African nation “be made to work” saying, “It is not enough to say that we will do better.”

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The July 2 statement comes barely 72 hours after the GCBC members condemned the murder of a social media activist following a mob attack and the killing of two demonstrators who were reportedly shot by security officers during protests in Ejura town, Ashanti Region in the Catholic Diocese of Konongo-Mampong.

Ibrahim Mohammed, popularly known as Kaaka, succumbed to injuries inflicted by the mob while receiving treatment at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital on June 28.

Residents of Ejura gathered to protest Kaaka's death on June 28. Police officers who sought to stop the demonstrations allegedly shot dead two protesters while four others were reported to be nursing injuries.

In their June 30 statement, GCBC members said the police officers’ actions were “not only condemnable but criminal and must be investigated and the perpetrators duly punished.”

The Catholic Bishops in Ghana added that the probe into murder incidents “must be done with the urgency it deserves because citizens are gradually losing trust in the ability of our security agencies to handle such cases effectively and completely.”

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