Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
A 30-YEAR-OLD teacher at Ahyiayem in the Nkoranza District of the Brong Ahafo Region, who was allegedly assaulted by a group of soldiers from the Third Battalion of Infantry (3BN) of Sunyani, has appealed to the Military High Command and the Commanding Officer (CO) of the battalion to bring the soldiers involved to book.
The teacher, Raphael Torkonoo, who was allegedly beaten by the soldiers until he became unconscious, and was later abandoned near a cashew plantation, made the appeal when he called at the Daily Graphic office in Sunyani to narrate his ordeal at the hands of the soldiers, whom he claimed were led by one Warrant Officer.
Torkonoo, who had stitches on a part of his mouth and scars all over his body, could not speak, but his sister, Mercy Ampoma, who accompanied him to the office, narrated the incident on his behalf.
According to her, the brother was at a clinic when he decided to go to town to buy food.
She said when Raphael got to town, he saw the soldiers on board a pickup and they asked him to join them to go and put off bush fires.
She said her brother told the soldiers that he could not join them, because he was sick and that he had come to the clinic for a medical attention, but decided to come to town to buy food.
She said this did not go down well with the soldiers and one of them, therefore, got down from the vehicle and hit him with a machete, which he took from a parked bicycle, but her brother asked the soldier what his crime was.
Mercy stated that the soldiers who were still not satisfied with the response from her brother attempted to force him to get on board the pickup, but he still refused, and when he was moving from the scene, the soldiers fired two warning shots that made him stop.
She said when Torkonoo stopped, the soldiers pounced on him and subjected him to a severe beating and bundled him into the back of the pickup. They tied him with a rope, but Raphael managed to untie the rope and jumped out from the vehicle to run away, but he was caught again by the soldiers, who brutally assaulted him with the butts of the guns and bundled him into the passenger’s seat and drove off to an unknown destination.
Mercy added that on their way, they met another group of soldiers who joined in and subjected her brother to another round of severe beating till they saw that he was unconscious and abandoned him in cashew plantation.
She said someone who chanced on the unconscious Raphael picked him up and sent him to the St Theresa’s Catholic Hospital in Nkoranza where he was revived and treated.
She said they reported the case to the Nkoranza police, but as of the time of filing the story, no arrest had been made and the police said they were still investigating.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the 3BN headquarters in Sunyani, Major K.D. Hagan, acting Commander, confirmed the incident, but said the command had sent some officers to Nkoranza to conduct a thorough investigation into the issue in order to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the matter, adding that the military had rules of engagement and, therefore, the command would not shield any person or a group of persons who would violate them.
Meanwhile, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Nkoranza, Kwabena Appiah Awuah, has denied Mr Torkonoo’s story.
He explained that the complainant was obstructing the soldiers who were deployed in the district to help curb bush fires which had been occurring in the district, especially during the harmattan season.
He said the soldiers arrested him and were conveying him to the police at Nkoranza when he jumped out of the moving vehicle, thus sustaining the multiple injuries.
According to the DCE, the soldiers got him back on the vehicle and drove him to the St Theresa Catholic Hospital at Nkoranza where he was treated.
Mr Appiah Awuah said the case had been handed over to the Nkoranza police for further investigations.