General News of 2014-02-06

Prison didn’t kill JB Danquah; he died naturally - Murtala

Dr J.B. Danquah, one of the big six in Ghana’s political history died of natural causes and not from his incarceration under the Nkrumah administration, Nanton Legislator, Murtala Muhammed has said in Parliament.

“…Even under Busia, a Committee that was set up to look at the circumstances under which he lost his life proved clearly that he didn’t die as a result of he being in prison. It was a natural death, and the history is there clearly for us all to see”, Murtala Muhammed said as he contributed to a statement on the floor of the Chamber to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Dr Danquah’s death.

Dr Danquah, a founder-member of the pre-independent United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), died in the Nsawam Medium Security prison on February 4, 1965. He was 69 years old.

He was imprisoned under the Preventive Detention Act, Act 1958, which according to Abuakwa South Member of Parliament, Samuel Atta Akyea, “rather unfortunately gave expression to Constitutional absolutism”.

The Preventive Detention Act was a law passed by Parliament at the time and permitted the detention of subversive elements without trial for up to five years. It was later extended to 10 years.

Mr Akyea, who read the statement on the floor, said the PDA was an “instrument used twice by President Nkrumah to incarcerate Dr Danquah; the last detention being the Preventive Detention Order, 1961 (E.I.171)”.

Also contributing to the statement was Nadowli-Kaleo MP, Alban Bagbin who said Dr Danquah was a victim of political intolerance. He therefore used the occasion to urge political tolerance in Ghana.

“Dr J B Danquah was unfortunately a victim of this kind of culture. The only way that we can learn lessons from the past is for us to agree to disagree”, Mr Bagbin said.

Subin MP, Isaac Osei, who also commented on the statement said not only was Dr Danquah incarcerated without trial but also “denied his medication and he died in prison and had to suffer the indignity of being buried within 48 hours contrary to the traditions and culture of his own ethnic group”.

Just like Mr Bagbin, Mr Osei said Dr Danquah’s fate should teach Ghanaians political tolerance.

“Mr Speaker, his death as you rightly pointed out is an important lesson for us to say that never again should anybody be denied his freedom on the altar of political expediency and that never again should anyone be imprisoned because he holds alternative political views”.