Countdown begins...Encounter with CDO militiaman

BY: Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh
Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh
Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh

The torrent of an old man’s water may no longer smash into the bole of the roadside tree a full stride away as it once did but fall flat around his feet like a woman’s; but in return the eyes of his mind is given wing to fly away beyond familiar sights of the homestead. (Chinua Achebe, ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH).

In 1986, when I came on transfer from Tamale, I initially perched with a colleague, Charles Amponsah Boafoh, at La. One morning as I was coming to the office I saw a crowd following a gentleman who was bleeding from the head around the CMB Market.

He was being marched by a militiaman and a policeman. I asked my driver to stop to enable me to find out what was happening. To my amazement, the gentleman who was bleeding was a worker of Graphic who was pleading innocence but the militiaman asked him to confess.

Naturally, as a colleague I asked about his offence and whether he could be taken to hospital. My entreaties were rebuffed by the two arresting officers who said the gentleman had stolen a gun belonging to the militiaman so they were taking him to the Castle.

My instinct told me if the gentleman was taken to the Castle he could be in danger. But since the arresting officers were not ready to release him, I offered to use the official Graphic vehicle to convey them to the Castle where I hoped to secure and release the gentleman for treatment. Indeed it was good that I went with them. For as soon as we got there they called a soldier who came and took the boy into custody and started shaving him.

I followed up and entered the Castle and protested to the soldier against the shaving, since the gentleman was a worker of Graphic and was not a thief, much more steal a gun. In the course of exchanging words with the soldier, Mr Sam Garbah, who was a Presidential Staffer and later became an Executive Secretary of the GETFund, saw me and came to speak to me and counselled that I should not argue with the soldiers, since they could be sadistic.

When Mr Garbah left, the soldier became sober and was prepared to listen to me. I persuaded him to listen to my plea that the gentleman be released for medical attention. He agreed to release him but that he should be treated at the Castle Clinic, after which the gentleman was to be transferred to the headquarters of the Civil Defence Organisation (CDO) close to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum.

All this while I was alone, but was later joined by the executives of the Graphic Workers Defence Committee. When the gentleman had received first aid, we moved to the CDO office, where we met a retired colonel who we later identified to be Col Alex Antwi (retd), who happened to be the Commander of the CDO. I narrated my observations and pleaded with him for the gentleman to be released for medical attention at Graphic and promised that he would be brought back for any investigation.

I was joined by the chairman of the Graphic Workers’ Defence Committee (WDC) Mr Leslie Barnor. Just as we were about to leave the CDO office, a twin brother of the supposed militiaman appeared and it was then that we found out that the one who caused the arrest and molestation of the Graphic worker was not a militiaman. He took the gun of his twin brother and was so drunk that when workers of the Coca Cola Bottling Plant saw him around their premise, they took the gun from him and hid it. It was when he became aware that the gun had been stolen that he arrested the Graphic worker who happened to be passing around and no amount of pleading from the people around would convince him to allow the innocent gentleman go. He ended up hitting him in the forehead leading to the profuse bleeding but when the policeman chanced upon them, he just supported the militiaman and arrested the Graphic worker just a few minutes before I chanced upon them.

The workers who took the gun knew the genuine militiaman so when he came across they released the gun to him and told him what had happened and he thus decided to report to the CDO head office where fortunately we were with the victim.

With the new development Col Antwi pleaded with us to take the gentleman, apologised and promised to deal with the culprit. The joy of the innocence of the gentleman was enough for me. I thus left him in the company of the WDC chairman and returned to the office, happy that I helped to get him out of the Castle.