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General News Fri, 16 Jan 2004

Boakye-Djan Lied To NRC

The Heritage can report that Osahene Boakye Djan, second-in-command of the erstwhile military junta, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) told a lie before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) when he stated that the eight senior military officers, including the three former Heads of State, were executed in June 1979 for staging anti-constitutional coups. According to Heritage's in-depth investigations, the anti-constitutional coup justification of the generals' executions may be an after-thought since that reason was never mentioned throughout the tenure of the AFRC.

Boakye Djan justified the AFRC uprising when he told the NRC on November 18, last year, that the 1979 bloody coup was the military's formal response to the then existing run of anti-constitutional coup governments and other continuities in Ghana between February 24, 1966, and June 3, 1979, which "by the laws of Ghana then and now were illegal".

He stressed before the Commission that it was in this context that it was submitted that the AFRC was a de facto government of a counter coup to terminate an existing anti-constitutional coup government, to hold accountable under the law, all those with other responsibility for destroying the constitution and governments within the period and then to restore the constitution.

However, a research conducted by The Heritage has revealed that the AFRC's own press releases issued at the time of the executions after the coup and reported by the two national media, Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times in June 1979, stated that the top military officers were executed after being found guilty of corruption and causing financial loss to the State by the special court established by the military junta. Nowhere in the reports of the two dailies was it mentioned that they had been tried for anti-constitutional coup making, The Heritage research established.

The Daily Graphic story of June 16, 1979 stated that General I. K. Acheampong, former Head of State, and Major-General E. K. Utuka, former Border Guards Commander, "were found guilty by an Armed Forces Revolutionary Council court set up by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, on charges of using their positions to amass wealth while in office and recklessly dissipating state funds to the detriment of the nation".

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The Ghanaian Times re-echoed that statement on the same date.

Later, when the six other top military officers were executed, The Ghanaian Times in its June 27, 1979 edition, reported that "An AFRC release said the six officers were tried and found guilty by a special court set up under an AFRC decree, 1979 section 3 (1) sub section A-E".

The offences under the Decree included: "acquisition or obtaining of any loan, property, material, promise, favour or advantage whatsoever by any person who uses, abuses, or exploits his official position in any public office".

Others are: "illegal or dishonest acquisition of property by a public officer, a citizen of Ghana or other persons resident in Ghana; intentional or reckless misappropriation or cause of loss or damage to public property; gross negligence or dishonesty in applying public property; and intentional or reckless dissipation of public funds or property".

Here too the Daily Graphic story of the same date was not different from The Ghanaian Times'. The paper re-echoed the same position.

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Additionally, the same statement was captured on page 139 of Mike Ocquaye's Politics in Ghana, 1972-79, which quoted the decree as stipulating that " any person found guilty by a special court of any of the offences specified in section three of the decree shall be liable on conviction to suffer death by firing squad or to imprisonment with penal labour for a term not less than three years and the confiscation to the state of any asset found by the court to have been illegally or dishonestly acquired by such persons".

The six other senior military officers, namely Lieutenant-General F.W. K. Akuffo, Lieutenant-General A. A. Afrifa, both former Heads of State; Real Admiral Joy Amedume, former Navy Commander; Air Vice Marshal G. Y. Boakye, Air Force Commander; Major-General R. E. A. Kotei, former Chief of Defence Staff and Colonel Roger Feli, former Commissioner of Foreign Affairs, were all executed on June 26, 1979 after they were found guilty the AFRC special court.

According to the Daily Graphic, the offences of the above-mentioned officers "included the acquisition or obtaining of loans, property, material promises, favours or advantage whatsoever by abusing or exploiting of their official positions in the public service; Illegal or dishonest acquisition of property and intentional or reckless misapplication of or cause damage to public property".

"Additionally they were found guilty of gross negligence or dishonestly applying public property and intentional or reckless dissipation of public funds", the paper said.

However, the claim that the generals were tried and convicted has also just be disputed by Squadron Leader Everitus Kosi-Dargbe, chairman of the erstwhile People's Court, on Thursday January 8, 2004, when he dissociated the court from the executions of the generals in his testimony before the NRC.

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He disclosed before the Commission that the court was set after the executions and that the court never condemned anybody who appeared before it.

Squadron Leader Dargbe, who is now a pilot with the Ghana Airways, told the NRC that most of the "outrageous sentences were done by the AFRC and not the court."

Boakye Djan's latest justification of the coup also runs contrary to the one given by the PNDC Chairman J.J. Rawlings as captured in Mike Ocquaye's book. According to the University of Ghana lecturer (now Ghana's Ambassador to India), Rawlings, in giving detailed explanation of the coup, said "they were motivated by the burning desire to ensure that the in-coming political administration was given the right atmosphere, within which to take all necessary steps for bringing stability and prosperity to the nation.

Flt. Lt. Rawlings, according Ocquaye, explained that the junior officers and men had expected that the SMC under Akuffo would bring justice to all Ghanaians but "because of the SMC's pre-occupation with preparation for handing over and other considerations, it had become clear that the expected justice would not be brought about."

Continuing Rawlings said: "The army was going back to barracks without steps having been taken to punish those who had tarnished the image of the Armed Forces, a situation which posed a threat to the existence of the Armed Forces"

It would be recalled that soon after the AFRC had taken over power from the then Supreme Military Council 11 (SMC 11), headed by Lieutenant-General Akuffo on June 4, 1979, the regime embarked upon a "house-cleaning exercise."

This set the tone for the junta to arrest, detain, imprison and execute people the regime suspected to have acted to aid and abet in destroying the national economy at the time. Among such people included the top military officers who, after secret trials, suffered execution by firing squad.

But despite the sharp condemnation from local and international circles of the secret trials and the subsequent execution of the officers, the action of the junta was very popular with the populace who demanded of the regime to "let the blood flow".

Individuals, groups and organizations such as the media extolled the executions. The Catholic Standard, for example in its editorial of June 24, 1979 captioned "The Great Lesson", backed the executions which it viewed as "a means of instilling discipline and justice" in the country.

Source: The Heritage