Former President Jerry John Rawlings has denied masterminding the 1982 killing of the three high court judges and a retired military officer, saying: “If I were blood thirsty as these people are claiming, on the 15th of May 79, I could have ignited the thing and left it. ’79 when people were calling for blood, I could have just let go and let people do the killings.
“How do I come back in the 80s when things have cooled down and say I want to kill judges? It was a terrible thing some of our people did. How do you choose how to knock me down without going too low? I have enough true stories about these characters,” he said at an event in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi.
On Saturday, 13 October 2018, veteran journalist Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako said he was befuddled by former president Rawlings’ “noisy” attack on Multimedia’s ‘Who Killed The Judges?’ documentary, which was aired recently, when, in the New Crusading Guide Editor-in-Chief’s opinion, the Special Investigation Board (SIB) that probed the 1982 murder of the three high court judges and the retired army officer under Chairman Rawlings’ Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime, directly implicated the former military leader in its report but he, for decades, “let it go”.
Mr Rawlings, on Tuesday, 9 October 2018, said history had been “re-hashed” and “re-cooked” by The Multimedia Group, through the documentary, to make him and other innocent people look guilty as far as the murder of three court judges and the army major is concerned.
In his view, the perpetrators of that crime some 36 years ago, were justly punished unlike the murderers of Dagbon Overlord Ya Na Yakubu Andani, who, according to him, are still walking free.
Mr Rawlings’ comments came on the heels of the airing of the documentary produced by Raymond Acquah of Accra-based Joy FM.
On 30 June 1982, the judges – Justices Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong, Poku Sarkodie and Mrs. Cecelia Koranteng-Addow – and a retired Major in the Ghana Armed Forces, were abducted and branded “enemies of the revolution” under MR Rawlings’ PNDC junta.
Lance Corporal Amedeka, Tony Tekpor and Dzandu, all soldiers, had taken their captives to the Bondase military firing range and executed them. The murderers carried along a gallon of petrol with which they set fire to the bodies to destroy all evidence.
But it rained that night, so, the bodies did not burn as the murderers had wanted.
Following a public outcry, the PNDC set up the Special Investigation Board (SIB) headed by former Chief Justice Mr Justice Azu Crabbe, to unravel the mystery.
It turned out that all the three judges were reviewing cases brought to them by aggrieved citizens in connection with the treatment meted out to them by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council junta, which Mr Rawlings led in carrying out his 4 June 1979 coup.
The killed army officer, Major Sam Acquah, was the head of administration at GIHOC, who had signed letters that led to the dismissal of some agitating workers, including a PNDC member, Joachim Amartey Kwei. Their services were terminated after they invaded Parliament House and destroyed property.
The SIB established that the abduction and murders were a plot hatched with the connivance of members of the PNDC. The Board found that the plot was master-minded by Capt. Kojo Tsikata, PNDC member in charge of National Security. The PNDC rejected that aspect of the report and let Capt. Tsikata and four others off the hook for lack of evidence.
The remaining four of the nine suspects were jailed. When, on 19 June 1983, there was a jail-break at the Nsawam Medium Prisons and the Ussher Fort Prisons, L/Cpl Amedeka escaped from captivity and has since not been seen. But his three accomplices, Tony Tekpor, Dzandu and Hekli, as well as ex-PNDC member Amartey Kwei, were executed by firing squad.
Mr Rawlings has always insisted that before Amartey Kwei was executed, he confessed, at the stakes, to falsely accusing Mr Tsikata of involvement.
But Mr Rawlings said history, as told by the documentary, has been skewed to smear him.
In a tweet, the former Ghanaian leader said the following:
A whole documentary on the killing of the major and the judges.
An unfortunate tragedy that saw hard, swift justice done to the perpetrators unlike the organised assault and killings of the Ya Na and his 39 elders for which those perpetrators are yet to see justice. This is the fundamental difference – one group of four saw justice, the other group of close to 40 did not and has not!
We have re-hashed and re-cooked history to make innocent people look murderous. And in the next breadth, using the same name to endorse yourselves because Rawlings has said he is cultured (compared to his predecessors). This is vicious and callous political opportunism.
We cannot reduce the harm and pain caused families and the whole country by turning this matter into a political-media circus.
In the meantime, our party has lost a few too many thinkers and strategists to see things clearly. We fall for traps set easily. Rather than a focused fight to ward off this attempt to twist and manipulate the truth (which thankfully some started well) we are back to hang Rawlings because of the DG publications.
Responding to Mr Rawlings’ reaction, Mr Baako told Samson Lardi Anyenini on Multi TV’s news analysis programme News File on Saturday that: “I would’ve wished he had kept quiet”.
“If I were his adviser”, Mr Baako continued, “I would told him that: ‘Sir, silence is golden relative to this incident, this documentary’”.
“Where was Mr Rawlings when the NRC [National Reconciliation Commission] pronounced its verdict? Look, NRC was not a documentary. It was something that was conducted under an Act of parliament, of course it took into consideration all this indemnity, immunity and all those things, so, took away criminal jurisdiction from the NRC agenda and left it on a truth-telling, reconciliation, fact-finding type of [exercise] meant to heal our souls as it were. And I’m sorry I do this but this is a public document, it’s a public record, so I’m not sure anybody can tell me I’m accusing anybody and , indeed, it’s not my view, I’m quoting.
“This is from page 139 of the Volume One, executive summary of the NRC report, which is dated 12 October 2004. It says:
“The SIB found Captain Tsikata to be a co-conspirator in the abduction and cold-blooded murder of the judges and the retired army officer. But like Amartey Kwei, Captain Tsikata could not, by himself, have carried out the deed because he was not even a member of the PNDC. It needed the authority of someone higher up and that person was Flt. Lt. Rawlings, who, according to evidence before the Commission, had, months before succeeding in overthrowing the Limann administration, threatened to punish the judges, who had freed so-called AFRC convicts. Without his express orders or tacit approval, the Operation Pass, would not have been issued to Amedeka and his gang. It was the public reaction to the abduction that led to the cabal to beat a retreat and try to undo what had already been done. The search for a scapegoat begun and a misguided Amartey Kwei was found to fill the role, like the man who rode on the back of a Tiger, it did not know how to get off and ended up in its mouth”.
“This is SIB. Look, a serious verdict by a Commission of that nature, you were former president, Chairman of the PNDC, all those things, what was his reaction to such an explosive verdict? He’s worried about a documentary by a journalist or a radio station? That’s what he’s worried about? So, he begins to make noise all over the place when this document stays forever and ever. So, I expected that this one rather [SIB report], would have elicited a more serious reaction from him, not the noise … why did he let this [SIB Report] go, apart from the noises that he made? In terms of the real value, how many years down the line … 14 years down the line? You are now coming to talk about fundamental distinction between justice for four people and injustice for forty people. That’s not the resolution for you who were Chairman of that regime then and became president subsequently.
“You see, he missed a great opportunity, people have forgotten. He appeared before the NRC, he actually 13 times was invited to come and respond to allegations people were making about him, and there was a procedure to follow: they bring you what the people are saying, you fill in a certain statement, then you also make your statement and all goes to the Commission because they may have to call others and then you come; 13 times he declined, or he refused or he failed, he rather was arguing with them left-right-centre. So, eventually the NRC had to issue a subpoena to him that required that he produce two records: One, the Amartey Kwei tape, which is part of what we just read, the second one was the video clip of [the extrajudicial execution of Gyiwaa, Sarkodie Addo, the soldier, the former AFRC member, and the rest] at the Airforce Station after they themselves had decided that all these people are guilty, shoot them. And they shot them. And there’s a video. He was asked to produce these two because he was so uncooperative unlike Captain Tsikata, who went through the procedures, did his statement and appeared and did his case. Mr Rawlings, apparently did not have the requisite capacity to appear before an organised platform and to deal with issues face-to-face. He didn’t have the capacity. If it were a rally, or a market place or a chop bar, he would have made himself immediately available to come and stand there and do his western cowboysm things.
“Amedeka was sentenced to death in absentia, Mr Rawlings was Chairman, became president, I never heard him ask Interpol to look for Amedeka. After last week’s programme, I got a hint [about] where Amedeka is from a very reliable source. He’s alive and he’s doing very well. In a North American country”, Mr Baako reveled.