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Monday, January 11, 2010

6 Soldiers Arrested Over Kidnapping

Major General J.N. Adinkrah-Chief of Army Staff
The Ghana Armed Forces High Command may be heading on a collision course with their counterparts in the Police Service following seeming underhand dealings by the military in a case involving the arrest of some kidnappers by six brave soldiers.

DAILY GUIDE investigations so far into the case, in which the suspected kidnappers were rounded up at their hideout in East Legon, and their Brazilian hostage freed, say six soldiers who responded to the distress call last year October, and seized heavy weapons and military accoutrements including assault rifles, uniforms, handcuffs, boots, bullet proof jackets from the kidnappers, have been placed in detention with no explanation.

A senior police officer confirmed the arrest of the kidnappers but was not ready to shed more light, because of what he described as ‘complexity of the case’.

In recent times, a number of people, mostly foreigners including a Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank, had been kidnapped under dubious circumstances for huge ransoms.

And even though the kidnappers have been handed over to the Greater Accra Regional Police Command and much progress made in effecting more arrests, with startling confessions from the suspected kidnappers, a section of the military hierarchy, for some bizarre reasons, are not comfortable with the foiling of the kidnap attempt, hence a directive from ‘above’ to detain the six soldiers under deplorable conditions.

Interestingly, after spending five long weeks in their open-air guardrooms at two separate locations within the Burma Camp, sources close to the military told DAILY GUIDE that Corporals Prosper Gblorkpor, Albert Hlordzie, George A. Ntow, Robert Doku, V. Domabalee and Henry Offei have not been charged with any crime.

The action of the military authorities have thus raised a lot of eyebrows within police circles, with some senior police officers wondering if the military hierarchy has interest in the matter.

According to the facts of the case, as gathered by DAILY GUIDE sources in the military, the six soldiers, all from the Base Ordinance Depot (BOD) in Accra, on October 14, 2009, received signals from a female colleague that a Brazilian businessman whose name was only given as Paul, was being held hostage by an armed gang in East Legon.

The soldiers quickly moved in and within a matter of minutes, overpowered the gang, seizing four AK 47 assault rifles, a pump-action gun, four sets of brand-new Ghana Army uniforms and some ammunition.

Two Nigerians and a Ghanaian were arrested and immediately handed over to the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Rose Bio Atinga, alongside the seized arms and ammunitions.

Upon interrogation, the kidnappers named the ring leader who was said to be well connected in the military, leading to the arrest of the six soldiers.

Two of the arrested members of the gang are Gidi (or Jide) a Nigerian and Kwame Offei, a Ghanaian.

DAILY GUIDE further gathered that following the successful transfer of the case to the police commander, the regional police, after due interrogations between October and December last year, located and arrested the leader of the gang, also a Ghanaian.

The case however took a bizarre twist when on December 7, 2009 the military hierarchy reportedly ordered the arrest of the soldiers, allegedly for embarking on an operation without authority.

All the six soldiers have since been held in detention, three each in the Recce and 64 Regiment guardrooms, places described by some soldiers as degrading.

An officer, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity, described the cells as open-air guardrooms with graveled floors.

Asked how they had been sleeping on such graveled floors, the source said they stand or squat all night all day. What the source finds deplorable is the fact that five weeks down the line, no charges have been preferred against them.

Unconfirmed reports however say the suspected kidnappers are highly connected with some top gurus in the military, hence the hard stance on the matter.

As at press time yesterday, police sources confirmed that the case was indeed handed over to them, and that the matter had been transferred to the CID Headquarters “due to its complex nature”.

According to the source, the complexity arises from whether to categorize the case as that of kidnapping or armed robbery.

By Bennett Akuaku

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