The commanding officer of 4BN, Lieutenant Colonel Kwasi Ware Peprah, has told the three-member committee investigating the Ejura disturbances that led to the shooting to death of two protesters who were marching to demand justice for slain social media activist Ibrahim Kaaka Mohammed that the aim of the military on that fateful day was not to kill.
More than 100 protesters, he noted, would have been shot dead by the soldiers on the field that day if their intention for going there was to kill.
The commander also said he suspects the bullets that killed the marchers could have been from their colleague gun-toting demonstrators.
“The aim was not to kill”, he told the committee, adding: “It was just unfortunate”.
“If the aim was to kill, I would have gotten not less than 100 people dying”, Lt. Col. Peprah said on Wednesday, 7 July 2021.
“As a matter of fact”, he noted, “I even suspect the weapons that fired from the protesters might have killed one of them”.
According to him, “the soldiers started firing into the air” but “If you are not a professional and there’s another rifle firing, you wouldn’t know and that is how come some people are saying that they were not handling weapons”.
“When an M16 rifle fires, I know. When a G3 rifle fires, I know. But the ordinary civilian doesn’t know. The media wouldn’t know. All you hear is gunshots into the air and it started when the soldiers came, so, you assume that it’s only soldiers who are firing”, Lt Col Peprah said.
He also noted that the soldier captured on video kneeling and aiming at the crowd, neither shot at nor killed anyone.
He said as part of their standard operating procedures in dealing with marauding crowds, the army first issues a verbal warning and “the second is to cock your weapons to signal to the crowd that you are about to fire. The third is to fire warning shots but the signal to scare them includes the kneeling to aim”.
“As a matter of fact, the direction of the man who knelt was such that no casualty came from that side. He didn’t fire. He fired only warning shots but when he went down, he didn’t fire,” he told the committee.
Earlier, another military officer told the committee that some of the Ejura protesters started firing first at the security personnel before they also responded by targeting those who shot at them.
Brigadier General Joseph Aphur, General Officer Commanding Central Command told the committee that the security personnel first issued verbal warnings and fired warning shots but that did not deter the angry youth.
He said they had no choice but to fire into the crowd targeting those who were firing gunshots at them.
Brigadier Aphur explained: “When we got to the general area of the cemetery, and they [protesters] started issuing warning threats to the police and military team, we started giving verbal warnings, which we do in the military, but they didn’t listen”.
“So, we fired warning shots, and we realised that some shots were also fired from the crowd. At that stage, it was becoming too bad for civilians to be firing at the security personnel.”
“I think the commander, at that stage, then had to use minimum force by ordering his personnel to begin firing at those who were firing from the crowd to maim them”.
“After our fire, we didn’t have instant deaths. They were evacuated to the hospital, where we later heard two died”, he said.
“But, at the instant of our fire, the crowd withdrew and everything came under our control,” he added.
He further told the committee that the situation could have been worse if they had not taken those steps.
“Of course, when you [security personnel] fire warning shots, and you see people firing from the crowd, certainly you have to use live ammunition to maim them because after, we also arrested two persons with weapons that we have reported to the police.”
Wednesday is day two of the committee’s sitting.
The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, under the instruction of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, appointed the three-member committee on Thursday, 1 July 2021, to enquire into the circumstances that led to the shooting of two civilians by military personnel during a demonstration by angry youth of Ejura, following the murder of Ibrahim Mohammed aka ‘Kaaka’, a social media activist.