1BN Defends Demolishing Exercise

The Commanding Officer (CO) of the First Battalion of Infantry (1BN), Michel Camp, has said he ordered the demolishing of houses which were sited on lands belonging to the unit. Lieutenant Colonel Fred Ntiri explained that the houses were not sited on Kakasunanka lands as the residents claimed but on lands belonging to 1BN. Speaking with the 1BN CO via phone, he explained that on June 20, 2013 he personally had a meeting with the community to explain to them why they needed to relocate from the area because the area was a military land. At the meeting, Lieutenant Colonel Ntiri said both parties agreed that December 15, 2013 would be enough grace period for the ‘illegal’ settlers to have vacated the military land, “and to document that agreement, every member on the land was served with a notice of vacation.” However, on August 31 when the Command sent letters reminding them of the vacation date which both parties had agreed on, the CO said the community sent a delegation to plead for an extension to December 31 by which time the last person would have parked out. “In fact, the Command gave a human face to the exercise so on their own consent date of December 31, we did not embark on the exercise so on January 14 the Command notified the community of the intended demolishing on January 16, and so our machine moved in to carry out the exercise,” the Lieutenant Colonel said. He explained that the demolishing was necessary in that the unit needed to secure its lands from encroachers whose activities could have serious security implications on the activities of the military. Observing the high rate of indiscipline among the citizenry, Lieutenant Colonel Ntiri said it is high time the whip was cracked on such misconducts in order to bring some sanity into the society. On January 16, scores of residents believed to be residing on lands belonging to the 1BN in the Kpone-Katamanso District were rendered homeless after some soldiers from Michel Camp stormed the area to demolish their houses. Victims who were not at home as at the time of the demolishing exercise could not salvage any of their properties as the debris from the demolished buildings damaged all their personal effects. Meanwhile, the chief of the area, Nene Akrofo II, who was left in a state of shock and could not fathom the reason for the ‘wickedness’ of the soldiers, has promised to schedule a meeting with the Commanding Officer (CO) of 1BN for explanations. Nene Akrofi II argued that the victims did not encroach and were not living on military lands.