Human rights organization, Amnesty International is protesting punishment meted out to a Ghanaian soldier who joined a social media campaign recently.
Lance Corporal Lincoln Isaac Wassah of 2 Recce Squadron has been stripped of his rank. He has also been sentenced to 90 days in detention with hard labour.
The uniformed soldier recorded himself in a video which went viral supporting a social media campaign.
The campaign was aimed at pressurizing Ghana’s parliament to abort the construction of a new chamber at a cost of $200 million.
In the video, the soldier warned President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo against supporting the construction of the new 450-seater chamber for the legislature.
He also questioned the thinking behind the project in the face of other pressing needs of the country.
The soldier was detained moments after the video went viral until his punishment following a hearing this week.
However, director for Amnesty International in Ghana, Robert Akoto Amoafo believes the soldier has not been treated fairly.
Speaking to Africafeeds.com Mr. Amoafo said a warning to the soldier would have been in order.
He said “Any warning or something that will be told him, I think that will be fairer than punishing him to the extent of making it look as if he did not have the right to say what he said or he does not have any right at all to speak or to express his views on issues.”
Amoafo warned that the punishment from Ghana’s military high command will negatively affect other soldiers denying them a voice on national issues.
He said “This goes a long way to limit other military men, a sign that shows that they are not in any way able to speak.
I’m sure it will even go a long way to put a limit on them even if they are not in their uniform because anything can happen to anybody and that’s the sign that the military is sending to the rest of the people who are in the service.”
Robert Akoto Amoafo insisted the treatment visited on the soldier was too harsh and disproportionate to the stated misconduct.
“The extent to which this punishment has gone is too far. A warning could have been given but to punish the person to this extent puts fear in officers to express themselves.
The fact that one joins security agency does not take their citizenship rights from them. A warning would have been the best,” he stated.
Support for the Sanction
There is however support for the decision handed down by the military command.
Ghana’s Deputy Defence Minister Major Derrick Yaw Oduro (rtd) has stated the punishment given to Lance Corporal Lincoln Isaac Wassah is within the dictates of code of conduct of the military.
Opposition Member of Parliament for Kumbungu Constituency Ras Mubarak who demanded action against the soldier following the surfacing of the viral video has welcomed the decision.
#DropThatChamber was a social media started by an advocate Rasheeda Adams against the decision by the Ghanaian legislature to put up a new chamber at a cost of $200 million.
The multipurpose 450-seater chamber was expected to host a restaurant, a museum, a mosque and a chapel.
The massive public outrage however compelled the Parliamentary Service Board to abandon the project which was to be undertaken by renowned Ghanaian architect Sir. Frank David Adjaye.