Journalist reports soldiers who made him weed for an hour to CHRAJ

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says it is has received a complaint of abuse of a civilian by two military officers.

Mr James Harry Obeng, a journalist was on Wednesday allegedly manhandled by the two military men at Michelle Camp for no reason.

He said he first lodged a complaint with the Mataheko Police Station but the police advised him to report the case to CHRAJ.

Mr Obeng said the military officers whose names he gave as Owusu and Mensah made him weed for one hour before they asked him to go.

When contacted, an officer at the Complainants Unit, CHRAJ who pleaded anonymity confirmed the story to the Ghanaian Times newspaper and said three directors of the commission would look into the case and determine whether the commission had the mandate to conduct further investigations.

In an interview with the Ghanaian Times, Mr Obeng stated that he joined a 207 Bus at Afienya and headed to Accra on Wednesday.

Upon nearing a junction called Mateheko Number 1, the driver of the bus picked a passenger.

He said there were drivers at that Matehoko Number 1 junction who have been trying to put a commercial transport ( trotro-cum-taxi station over there) and that anytime another driver on the Tema/Ashaiman-Afienya route picks a passenger at or near that junction, those drivers chase that driver out.

As someone who uses the road on a daily basis, Mr Obeng noted that attempts by the Mataheko drivers to chase the offending driver(s) oftentimes, result in heated confrontations.

“In my case, the driver, after picking the passenger, drove onto the lane of oncoming (Tema/Ashaiman-Afienya) cars, instead of remaining on the lane (Afienya-Tema/Ashaiman) he should be on. I think his intention was to avoid having any confrontation with the drivers at the Mateheko Number 1 Junction.”

“Nevertheless, immediately after bypassing that junction, he joined the proper lane (Afienya-Tema/Ashaiman) and off the lane of oncoming cars,” he added.

On reaching the Michel Camp main gate, Mr Obeng said the drivers at Mataheko on board a  blue 207 bus and running on top speed on the lane of oncoming cars, came and “crossed my car right in front of the Michel camp main gate.”

He said the drivers then questioned the driver of the vehicle he Mr Obeng was travelling on, eventually causing traffic.

Then, the soldiers manning the gate at the Michel Camp trooped to the scene to restore order.

At this point, he said “all the passengers in the car I was in, including myself, were getting down to take another car to continue our journey to Accra and “Immediately I got out of the car, a soldier (with the name-tag Owusu on his uniform) asked that I explain to him what had caused the confrontation involving the two buses, from my perspective as a passenger.”

“So we (I and the soldier) got off the road to the roadside (right in front of the Michel camp gate) and started to narrate what I saw. Then, he (the soldier) cut into my explanation that I should follow him inside the gate to continue my narration. I obliged and followed him in, and then completed narrating the account to him.”

“So, afterwards, I asked if that was all the information he needed, so I could leave and board another bus to work. Then, he said I should remain standing where I was and not move an inch. He then shouted out to some of his colleagues to bring the cutlasses for the driver and I.”

“I asked what my offence was, and this guy instantaneously got angry and started approaching as though he had intentions of hitting me. He then said, ‘stupid boy, you think we are joking here, huh’ and then pointed to a nearby weedy field.”

“I weeded for about 20 minutes and they (Owusu and with one soldier with the name-tag Mensah) shouted out from a distance and directed me to move to another weedy field (where they were standing) to continue the weeding. Here too, I weeded for about 40 minutes.”

“It was at this point that I managed to take my phone out of my pocket (whilst still weeding) and called my boss on the phone. They would be angry if they realised I was the on the phone, so I put the call on speaker when my boss picked (whilst still weeding).”

“It was after the call with my boss that they (Owusu and Mensah) called me and said I should hand my cutlass to the driver (who was also weeding) and take my bag and leave.”

Source: Ghanaian Times

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