"Truth is the safest Lie"
There are times when lies are simply not helpful and insisting on your lines make you look silly. Many a time, governments’ PR machines get chided for doing a bad job of defending their government when in reality, the actions taken by their employers are simply indefensible. In such circumstances, intelligent men and women are made to look like over-indulged adolescents who are just oblivious to reason. Our security institutions get caught up in this situation a lot when they exceed their powers. They claw at any scrap they can find, for example, to explain why a suspect in police custody is swollen-eyed even though he was not manhandled.
The military detachment in Bawku took custody of two guys, teachers by profession, for allegedly shooting indiscriminately in the highly charged town. The veracity of this allegation will soon be determined in a competent court of law. However, reports that the soldiers stripped the teachers to their birthday suite and paraded them stark naked in the Bawku Township, totally demystifying all trajectories protruding from the groins, cannot be taken lightly. Thanks to the actions of these soldiers, the mother-in-laws of these two chaps do not have to imagine the measure of trauma their daughters bear in carrying out wifely duties; they have seen it ‘fiili fiili’, they can even make comparisons to their own crosses. If these two guys ever make it back to the classroom, they will not dare ask the pupils to write an essay describing their teacher. In these days of technological proliferations, these guys could one day walk into an adult theatre and get shocked to the realization that they are the key actors in the latest porn movie .
Of course, the military has vehemently denied stripping the guys and parading them in the streets. According to Captain Frank Abrokwa, the commander of the military detachmentt, one guy was already half naked (without a shirt) when they attempted to arrest him, and in his attempt to resist arrest the trousers shriveled into nothingness. When asked what happened to the suspect’s under wear, he struggled to suggest that the suspect, who had just returned from a shooting spree, was walking around “anti-pe” (no under pants). He further explained that they had to walk the naked suspect from his home to the waiting military vehicle which was some distance away creating the impression that the suspect was paraded naked.
I believe that in typical Ghanaian military style, the soldiers stripped the guys naked and paraded them in the streets of Bawku to serve as a deterrent. I also believe that Captain Abrokwa’s version of what took place is far from the truth, in fact he is a bad liar . The Captain’s story falls out in the face of two facts:
i. It doesn’t convincingly explain how the second suspect also got naked.
ii. Being that they arrested one suspect in his own home, they could have clothed him before walking 10 km to their car if they did not intend to parade him naked.
I have heard many people call into radio programs to support the action of the military in Bawku because they believe such high handedness is required to stop the people of Bawku from annihilating each other in a stupid ethnic conflict. I have similarly heard many Ghanaians castigate human rights activists for speaking for the rights of armed robbery suspects. Such people speak out of ignorance. When people demand rights for suspects, they do so to protect innocent citizens who will be caught up at the wrong place at the wrong time, not criminals. The human rights groups are fighting for the rights of the people who ignorantly castigate them on air. If any of these guys find themselves at the other end of the stick, they will learn the hard way to appreciate what the concept of human rights is all about.
Growing up in Rawlings’ Ghana in the eighties, I saw and heard enough of military style justice in this country to say that no civilized nation needs it. Through fear, it chalks some successes in instilling discipline, but the excesses far outweigh any benefit. Women stripped naked, loss of innocent life, torture of ordinary citizens, arbitrary justice is too high a price to pay for discipline. We have cheaper options in staying loyal to the rule of law.
It is important to note that even prisoners of war are entitled to rights. When some American soldiers conscripted prisoners in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to act porn movies similar to what Captain Abrokwa and his men produced, it generated uproar in the world. Some soldiers were discharged from the army and others are currently serving jail sentences for those actions. We appreciate the sacrifices of our Men in uniform, but they must understand the times. The days of the banana republic are gone. In this dispensation, there is a soldier and his role, and there is a judge and his role, let none usurp the role of the other.
2 years ago