The writer - Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
The writer - Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
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Ghana’s unforgettable dates! Second quarter

June, Ghana’s bloodiest month, has come again! Earlier, April 17, 2024 passed quietly! But on April 17, 1967, the day was not quiet.

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Troops from the 2 Reconnaissance (Recce) Squadron, Ho attempted to overthrow the government of the National Liberation Council in what they codenamed “Operation Guitar Boy!”

In 2018, I started a quarterly project I called Ghana’s Unforgettable Dates meant to tell Ghana’s history with coups. Somehow, after the publication of the First Quarter in April 2018 in the Daily Graphic, subsequent quarters inexplicably did not materialise. Part of quarter-two’s draft read as follows:
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“Disappointingly, Ghana won only one bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia in April 2018. It will be recalled that the 1962 Commonwealth Games also took place in Australia (Perth).

Ghana in 1962 placed seventh out of one-hundred-and-four countries, winning nine medals comprising three gold, five silver and one bronze. Gold came through long-jumper Corporal Mike Ahey and boxers Eddie Blay and Clement Quartey.

Interestingly, in the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, Ghana won a bronze medal in the high-jump through Lieutenant Robert Kotei, later Maj Gen REA Kotei, one of the Generals executed in June 1979.

First quarter review

Following the January 13, 1972 coup, Ghana from 1972-75, was ruled by Gen Acheampong’s National-Redemption-Council (NRC) which later became the Supreme-Military-Council (SMC 1).

Like President Nkrumah is credited with the Akosombo Dam, Ghana Education Trust (GET) Schools, Tema Township and the Accra-Tema Motorway, Gen Acheampong is also credited with some major infrastructural developments such as the Kpong Dam, Dansoman Estates, Teshie-Nungua Estates, El Wak Stadium etc.

In March 1982, Ghana won its fourth African Football Cup hosted in Libya. Though the first country to win the Cup four times, Ghana has since not won the cup.
 

April 1967        

On April 17, 1967, three officers Lt SB Arthur, Lt Moses Yeboah and 2/Lt Eric Osei-Poku, led one-hundred-and-twenty-men of the 2 Recce Squadron, Ho in a failed attempt to overthrow the National-Liberation-Council (NLC).

Earlier, on February 24, 1966, President Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in a bloody coup by then Colonel EK Kotoka, Commander of the Second Infantry Brigade, Kumasi. In the process, Major-General CM Barwah, the Army Commander, was killed for refusing to join the coup-makers.

In a twist of fate, Gen Kotoka was killed in the abortive counter-coup on April 17, 1967 just as his coup had killed Gen Barwah on February 24, 1966. Lt Arthur and Lt Yeboah were subsequently executed by firing squad while 2/Lt Osei Poku was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

On April 27, 1972, Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah died in Bucharest, Rumania. He was flown there for medical treatment from Guinea where his friend President Sekou Toure offered him a home after his overthrow in 1966.

1979

On May 15, 1979, an uprising led by Flt Lt Rawlings was quelled. In the subsequent treason trial, he won the sympathy of Ghanaians when he attacked corruption in Ghana. Before the trial could end, soldiers from 5 Battalion-of-Infantry, Accra, led by L/Cpl Tasiri mutinied on June  4,1979 and released Rawlings from detention cells to lead them.

This eventually resulted in the overthrow of the SMC2 government of Gen FWK Akuffo, who had displaced Gen Acheampong in a “palace-coup” a year earlier.

In what Rawlings called “house cleaning,” former Head-of-State Gen IK Akyeampong and the Border-Guards Commander Gen EK Utuka were executed by firing squad on June 16, 1979. On June 26, 1979, five Generals and a Colonel were executed.

They included two former Heads-of-State, Gen Akuffo and Gen Afrifa. Others were the Navy Commander Rear-Admiral Joy Amedume, Air-Force Commander Air-Vice-Marshal GY Boakye and a former Army Commander Gen REA Kotei. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Colonel Roger Felli was also executed.

Earlier, on June 4, 1979, the Army Commander Gen Odartey-Wellington was killed-in-action (KIA) as he fought to counter the coup-makers at the Nima Police Station. The Armed-Forces-Revolutionary-Council (AFRC) was created to run Ghana.

June 1982

On June 30, 1982, following Rawlings’ 31 December 1981 coup which overthrew Dr Limann’s 3rd Republic, the charred bodies of three High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer were discovered at the Bundase Range, about thirty kilometres east of Accra.

They were Justice KA Agyapong, Justice FP Sarkodie and Justice Mrs Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, a lactating mother. The retired Army Officer was Major Sam Acquah. 

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Ghana was shell-shocked at such unimaginable revolutionary blood-thirstiness!”
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Discussion

Asked on a recent TV programme on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of May 15/June 4, 1979 and aftermath, what lessons Ghanaian leadership had learnt from coups, an octogenarian retired General answered, “nothing!”

He decried the “kangaroo-court” trial by young officers/academics of the Generals, and their hurried execution. Additionally, he was appalled by the unbelievable gleefulness with which he saw Ghanaians jubilate on June 16, 1979, the morning of the first executions chanting “let the blood flow!”

He described the Generals as some of the world’s finest. He opined that conditions now are far worse than they were in 1979. Unfortunately, leadership has refused to listen to wise counsel, he stated.

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According to ex-Corporal Adabuga, during the Truth-and-Reconciliation-Commission in 2002, on June 30, 1982, Rawlings happily toasted a glass of champagne on hearing the judges/retired Major had been killed. Adabuga asked Ghanaians for forgiveness for the murders they committed, as Rawlings took advantage of their youth and naivety, deceiving them into committing the heinous crimes.

Sadly, some of the revolutionaries who masterminded the killings are very rich Ghanaians today, profiting from the blood they shed.

Conscience? Do they sleep well?

In his book Who killed the Judges? investigator Superintendent Yidana stated that some soldiers he investigated claimed Rawlings told them he was embarking on a Menguistu

“Ethiopia- style-revolution” during which over one million Ghanaians would be executed to clean up Ghana! Incidentally, the clarion call by Ghanaians for the murders, was “let the blood flow!”

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The question now is, what did Ghana gain from all Rawlings’ killings considering the massive corruption, indiscipline, arrogance, disrespect, violence and filth around us.  

Leadership, lead by example! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO of African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.  
 

E-mail: [email protected] 

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