Signals picked up by The Chronicle indicate that morale has taken a nose dive among a section of the soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces due to what the personnel term as ‘high command’s indifference to the open fraud’ being perpetrated against them by some Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) companies with the connivance of some retired senior military officers.

They accuse the military high command of being only interested in granting permits to all kinds of CIF companies without conducting adequate research on them, because of the commission they stand to get from them, and not showing corresponding interest in their conduct, let alone come to their (soldiers) defence when the companies run away with their hard-earned money.

Some of the angry soldiers who spoke to The Chronicle claimed that they were members of a peacekeeping contingent to Congo DR about two years ago and ordered some household items from some CIF companies, running into thousands of US Dollars, but the items have not been delivered despite several efforts.

They claimed they travelled several times to Accra from other regions, with the aim of meeting the agents after phone calls did not go through, but their offices, one of them just a container, no longer existed.

The Chronicle on May 24, 2013, published similar story with the headline,    ‘SOLDIERS HIT BY $500K SCAM… Officers Fingered In Deal Involving Peace-Keepers Cash’.

When contacted at the time, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Armed Forces, Col. Mbawine Atintande condemned the aggrieved soldiers, questioning why they resorted to taking their complaints to the media instead of seeking redress from their unit commanders.  

But several months down the line, the soldiers say every iota of hope in getting either the items they ordered or their money back has whittled away.

The soldiers noted that peace keeping operations could be deadly and that some of their colleagues do lose their lives sometimes, and wondered whether their big men were not aware of this to fight for their welfare.

Checks including interviews conducted by The Chronicle revealed that most of the affected soldiers are groaning in pain, over the fraud that has been perpetrated against them by the CIF companies but are afraid to go public with it.

According to the soldiers, the CIF companies are granted permits by the GAF High Command to meet the troops at Bundase Training Camp on the Acrra-Aflao road, whenever the troops are preparing for peacekeeping mission.

They showcase their products and later send catalogues and price lists to the soldiers in the peacekeeping stations through their commanders, so that they can place their orders.

The cost of items a soldier ordered, plus a percentage- charge on transfer of the total amount are deducted from source and the CIF companies are expected to start delivering the items; such as deep freezers, corn mills, fridges, LCD television sets and cookers, a few weeks after the troops had arrived back in Ghana.

However, in the current case, for at least two and a half years, these companies have refused to deliver the items, without the military allegedly caring a hoot.

The Chronicle established that though delayed-deliveries were phenomenal in the military, complete delivery failures started in 2009 with some personnel of 11 contingents who served in Liberia, Lebanon, DR Congo, and Cote d’Ivoire falling victim.

The Chronicle   also gathered that following the general complaints about these CIF companies, a committee was set up to investigate the matter with a message being sent round to all units for victims to submit their names, amount involved, and the CIF company from which orders were made.   

The Chronicle established that though the committee had long completed its work, the report is being shelved because of the alleged involvement of some retired senior officers. The Chronicle will at the appropriate time release the names.

Shockingly, some of the victims said they had used their whole six months earning allowance to order the items. ‘I came from an operation poorer, why, what do they want me and my family to eat,’ one of the victims asked.

Others also said that was their maiden peacekeeping operation and the lesson learnt was so bitter that they were not too sure if they would ever venture to place orders again on subsequent missions.

The victims who spoke to The Chronicle on strict condition of anonymity were surprised that though the companies had failed to honour the contract, the military high command still allows them to go and convince other soldiers at Bundase to patronize their goods, instead of being blacklisted.

When The Chronicle contacted Public Affairs unit of the Ghana Armed Forces on Sunday January 12th, 2014, for them to react to the story, the head of the department, Col. Mbawine Atintande told this reporter that since it was on Sunday and a non-working day, he could only respond to the story the following day, which was Monday.

When The Chronicle waited for three days without any response as promised, a text message was sent to Col. Mbawine Atintande, reminding him about the promise to react to the story, but no response came.

After delaying the publication of the   story for over a week, which the reporter obliged because he wanted to be fair to the Ghana Armed Forces, Col. Atintande virtually insulted his (reporter) intelligence, by issuing a press statement in reaction to our unpublished story without even bothering to copy The Chronicle.  

In the press statement, as reported by the GNA, Col. Atintande virtually confirmed our report that the Military high Command of the Armed Forces has sat on a report   issued by the board, set up to investigate the grievances of the soldiers.

According to the report, the decision of the Military High Command on the recommendations of the board would be duly communicated at the appropriate time, the GNA quoted Col Atintande as saying in the press statement.

The statement further said the Command has meanwhile taken measures to streamline the process of selection of these CIF companies, as a way of preventing the companies from taking advantage of the troops and abusing the trust of soldiers in them.

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