Opinions Fri, 29 Oct 2010

How Nkrumah disintegrated Ghana with Cruelty and dictatorship.

I am persuaded that after reading this episode, you will have a clear understanding as to why the it became very necessary for the National Anthem to be amended after the overthrow of the first tyrant president of Ghana - Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to incorporate that “God, Help Us To Resist Oppressors’ Rule”. I will also not be surprise if you join the numerous Ghanaians who have been asking up to today that ‘Was Nkrumah a curse or a blessing on Ghana,’ and perhaps, what can be learnt from such iniquitous acts of Kwame Nkrumah.

The political scene from 1957 to early 1966 was dominated by Nkrumah and his CPP. During, the period the CPP not only stifled the Minority group, but went to every length to institute measures which made it more of a totalitarian government than an administration interested in nurturing democracy in the newly independent country.

From 1957, measures were taken to centralize the authority of government by systematically dismantling the 1957 Constitution. Steps were then taken to decentralize the Police Service and appeals to the West African Court of Appeal were also stopped.

As a move by Nkrumah to cripple the Minority parties which were more or less regional in scope, in December 1957, the CPP government passed the Avoidance Discrimination Act (originally, the Political Parties Restriction Bill which was no doubt an appropriate title) which forbade the existence of parties based on regional, tribal or religious grounds. With the Minority parties’ anticipation of the law been passed then inaugurated the United Party-UP at Bukom Square on 3 November 1957, since signs of CPP impending clamp down on the Minority parties were very obvious.

The executives of the United Party (UP) were drawn from the following parties: the NLM, NPP, MAP, the Togoland Congress, the Anlo Youth Organisation and the Ga Shifimo Kpee.

The rally was presided over by Kofi Abrefa Busia and chaired by Ashie Nikoe. Prior to this Act, the CPP had passed the Deportation Act on July 22, 1957. The law was immediately applied to Alhaji Amadu Baba and Alhaji Osman Larden Lexeme, two Muslim leaders in Kumasi (believed to be sympathetic to the Minority) as well as a number of anti-CPP Syrians and Lebanese.

Krobo Edusei (then Minister of the Interior) who carried out the order was indemnified through another act from contempt of court since the two Muslims had challenged the order in court and habeas corpus proceedings in respect of them were pending before Mr. Justice Smith. In carefully mounted attacks on Chiefs, Commissions of Enquiry were set up to examine the conduct of Nana Ofori Atta and the Akyem Abuakwa State Council, and the Kumasi State and Asanteman Councils between 1954 and 1957.

Pressure also began to be exerted through the use of administrative powers governing the status and functions of Chiefs and their State Councils between 1954 and 1957. There were attempts by the government to intimidate anti-CPP traditional rulers and their State Councils, as, in many instances, destoolment charges were brought against them and they were destooled only to be replaced with pro-CPP candidates (heirs) from the same royal house or in other cases, pro-NLM chiefdoms (e.g. Duayaw Nkwanta) were ’down-graded’ from the position of a paramount state; while pro-CPP chiefdoms (e.g. Bechem) were upgraded.

By such subtle acts, every pro-NLM Chief in Asante was destooled with the exception of the Asantehene probably because, he had earlier made a public declaration that he fully supports ’whichever government of the day’. The position of the Zerikin Zongo - the Muslim leader in Kumasi, was also ’tampered with’. This is because the CPP appointed at the end of 1957, Mallam Mutawakilu in place of the deported Alhaji Baba despite protests by his supporters in the Muslim community.

In December 1957, another law - the Emergency Powers Act was enacted to deal firmly with political louriest. Next in line of the repressive laws was the Preventive Detention Act (PDA - 18 July, 1958) repealed and re-enacted by Act 240 of 1964 under which the President could order the arrest and detention of any citizen of Ghana for five years (without the right of appeal to the courts) for any act or omission pre-judicial to the defence and security of the state and its foreign relations if he was ’satisfied that the order was necessary’.

More of the dictatorial tendencies of the CPP were yet to be unleashed when in September, the CPP-dominated Assemblies and Houses of Chiefs consented to a Constitutional (Repeal of Restrictions) Bill which sought to remove the restrictions pertaining to constitutional amendment in the 1957 Order-in-Council; the Bill was presented to Parliament in October and passed by the stipulated two-thirds majority. A Constitution (Amendment) Act followed in March 1959 and the Regional Assemblies were dissolved. Unrestricted powers were also vested in a simple majority of the National Assembly. In the following month (April), Asante was divided into two by the creation of a new Brong-Ahafo region.

Within less than six months of its passage, the PDA was in full flight. In November 1958, the law was used to detain 33 members of the minority charged with forming a subversive organization known as "Zenith Seven" whose members had allegedly planned to kill Nkrumah. Among those detained were Attoh Okine (A lecturer at Kumasi College of Technology) and K.Y. Attoh, a leading Accra journalist.

Then in December the same year, R. R. Amposah and M.K. Apaloo were detained on a spurious allegation by Captain Akwaitey, the Commandant of Giitard Camp in Accra, that the two had approached him to solicit his assistance in a coup plot. Nkrumah’s totalitarian tendencies were not limited to members of the Minority side of the political divide. He widened his attack on what were said to be ’neo-colonialist forces’ at work in Ghana to include both the civil service and the university from which the administrative grade of the civil service was recruited.

In a speech during the 10th Anniversary Rally (12 June 1959) of the CPP, Nkrumah launched a vitriolic attack on the university at Legon, describing it as ’a breeding ground for unpatriotic and anti-Government elements’. He found it intolerable that we should be training people most of whom will eventually come into Government service who will be permeated with anti-Government attitude, that is to say, an anti-Convention People’s Party attitude ... “How can these people serve loyally the Government and the State?” Characteristically, a note of warning was sounded:

"If reforms do not come from within, we intend to impose them from outside, and no resort to the cry of academic freedom (for academic freedom does not mean irresponsibility) is going to restrain us...”.

I believe Ghanaians were reminded of the Nkrumah’s outburst on the university lecturers when the chairman of NDC the ruling party today - Dr. Kwabena Adjei when he vowed that “We will clean (purge) the judiciary if they don’t take steps to clean it. We will clean it and let everybody everywhere blame us for interfering in the judiciary and we will take them on”.

On July 1, 1960, the last vestige of British political power over the country ended when the country assumed a republican status. This was after Nkrumah had defeated Danquah in a plebiscite held on the 19, 23 and 27 April 1960 to decide on the country adopting the presidential system and a republican constitution. In early 1962, the CPP journal The Spark became a further vehicle for political education, supplemented by the CPPs newspaper, The Evening News. Nkrumahism was to become a subject of instruction in schools.

With wide powers as an Executive President, Nkrumah continued his dictatorial tendencies. Under Article 2 of the Republican Constitution (1960), he had the absolute power, to grant loans, to appoint and dismiss the Chief Justice, to transfer, dismiss or put on probation any member of the Civil Service - the Judicial Service, the Police and Local Government, and to control the Army. Yet, opposition to his arbitrariness continued to mount.

In September, 1961, railway and harbour workers in Sekondi-Takoradi went on a three week strike in protest against the harsh economic conditions. It was declared illegal under the 1958 Industrial Relations Act, and a state of emergency was declared in the twin-city. Scores of violent acts were recorded. On his return from a trip to the Soviet Union, Peking and Belgrade, Dr. Nkrumah issued a stern warning to the striking workers to report back to work. He was however not content with the warning. For, after the men had returned to work, their leaders and a number of market women who had assisted the strikers were arrested. This was followed by the arrest on October 3, 1961 of J.B. Danquah, Joe Appiah, S.G. Antor, Victor Owusu and P.K.K. Quaidoo, a former CPP Minister of Trade. They were detained together with some titty members of the UP opposition party because of their alleged conspiracy with the workers.

On August 1, 1962, after a lull in the series of bomb explosions that rocked Accra during the last months of 1961, an assassination attempt was made on Nkrumah. Returning from Tenkoddgo after a visit to President Yameogo of Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) he stopped at the Northern village of Kulungugu where he narrowly escaped death in a hand-grenade attack. Among the people killed was Superintendent Kosi, a bodyguard. Fifty others, including the President’s ADC, Captain Buckman were injured. Nkrumah himself received minor shrapnel wounds in the back.

Many arrests were made. Some CPP members, Ako Adjei - Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tawiah Adamafio -Information Minister and General Secretary of the party, and Coffie Crabbe - Executive Secretary of CPP were dismissed from their posts and detained on grounds of their alleged conspiracy in the plot. Others arrested were Yaw Manu, a government clerk, R. B. Otchere (former Asante UP member) and Obetsebi Lamptey. A special court consisting of Sir Arku Korsah, the Chief Justice, W.B B. Van Lare and Akufo Addo, judges of the Supreme Court was set up to try these suspects. Whereas some - like Obetsebi Lamptey and R.B. Otchere received prison sentences, Tawiah Adamafio, Ako Adjei and Coffie Crabbe were acquitted on December 9, 1963 by the trial court presided over by Arku Korsah for lack of evidence.

Earlier on September 18, 1962, a Ga army officer, Sergeant-Major Edward Tetteh, who was in-charge of the Burma Camp ammunition depot and was suspected to have provided the grenades was pushed (or did he jump?) to his death from the fourth floor of the Police Headquarters whilst under interrogation.

Acting within the terms of the constitution, Nkrumah on December 11, 1963 dismissed Arku Korsah as the Chief Justice. And on December 23, the National Assembly met in a special session and passed the Law of Criminal Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Act, which empowered the President to quash any decisions of the Special Court. Consequently, on December 25, 1963 the judgment of the court in the case of Tawiah Adamatio and others was declared null and void.

The CPP’s clampdown on perceived detractors took one step further on September 23,1962 when, following simultaneous bomb blasts in Accra and Tema, a state of emergency was declared, ’the army was given unlimited emergency powers, conducting house-to-house searches for weapons, ammunition and explosives and manning a blockade of Accra until 1964. Over 500 people were imprisoned under the terms of the PDA and in January 1963, then all public meetings were banned.

A second assassination attempt was made on Nkrumah on January 2, 1964 when a police constable on guard duty at Flagstaff House, Seth Ametewee, shot several close-range rifle rounds at Nkrumah but missed him. Assistant Superintendent Salifu Dagarti, head of the special police guard was however killed. Six days later, Erasmus R. T. Madjitey - IGP, Samuel D. Amaning- Commissioner of Police, and eight other senior officers were dismissed.

Again, the PDA was used to detain Amaning, Awuku, and Madjitey. Once again, J. B. Danquah was arrested and together with Dr. Dennis Osborne, British physicist and de Graft Johnson - Director of the Institute of Public Education, they were held for questioning while six senior members of the former Institute of Extra-Mural Studies, Legon were deported. In support of these actions N. A. Welbeck headed a rowdy procession of CPP loyalists and others through Legon campus breaking windows and shouting abuse at the students.

Thus by 1960, the effects of a combination of threats and blandishment were clearly visible. Of the 32 Minority members of Parliament at independence, three (3) were held in detention, one (1) was in exile and twelve (12) had crossed to the government side. More were to take the same road when Ghana became a republic: some were imprisoned, others fled abroad, while the rest took sanctuary in the ruling party.

To ensure that he had absolute power, Nkrumah proposed amendments to the 1960 Constitution through a plebiscite which took place on 24-31 February 1964. The amendments were to invest the President with the power in his discretion to dismiss a Judge of the High Court at any time for reasons which appear to him sufficient. The other would provide that... there would be one national party in Ghana and that the one national party shall be the ‘CPP’. Of the 2,877,464 eligible voters, a 92.8 per cent voter turnout recorded; 2,733,920 ’YES’ votes against a ’NO’ of 2,452 votes, which the YES votes were described as a vote under duress.

In 1964 then, Ghana became a one party state and the CPP became the only legal party with its flag replacing that of Ghana.

Nkrumah’s dictatorship again became manifest in two swift actions he took in 1965. On 28 July, 1965 Major-General Stephen Otu, CDS and his deputy, Major-General Joseph A. Ankrah were forced into retirement in inexplicable circumstances just a few weeks after both men have been decorated on Armed Forces Day, with the Order of the Volta - the nation’s highest honour.

“Instead of democratic elections of MPs, Nkrumah by the Voting Acts Amendments simply announced on radio, the names of those whom he had chosen to be members of the new parliament”. The amusing part of the second action was that, some of the new MPs did not even know the location of the constituencies that they were supposed to be representing.

To cripple the regular army as an insurance against any military takeover, The Security Service Act of 1963 grouped intelligence and special military bodies into a number of parallel security units. They included the Special Intelligence Unit established in 1963 and directed by Ambrose Yankey, (who recruited his son, Ambrose Yankey Jnr. as his deputy) the Presidential Detail Department (PDD) or Department 1, headed by Eric Otoo and the Presidential Guard Company (after the Kulungugu assassination attempt the name was changed to President’s Own Guard Regiment - POGR) headed by Colonel David Gbon Zanlerigu. Informers were placed everywhere - in factories, banks, offices, shops, public transport, and political rallies, in beer and akpeteshie bars. Moreover, members of the intelligence (bodyguard) group preceded Nkrumah on trips, mingled with crowds and frisked suspicious individuals for weapons.

A counter-intelligence system was also employed to check on the loyalty of all PDD members and to prevent the infiltration of elements hostile to the regime. These developments led to duplication in the work of the security forces creating in the circumstance, a problem in command and control as the new system’s usurped the functions of the conventional military and police forces. In fact, before his overthrow in 1966, a web of power was spun over the whole country, its threats reaching out from the Central Committee of the party into the constituencies through a number of satellite organizations.

The Women’s Section of the party, youth movement (the Young Pioneers), the Builders Brigade, and a multiple of local organizations were similarly linked into the main body of the CPP. A Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute was put up at Winneba to indoctrinate civil servants etc in ’Nkrumahism to ensure the total submission of all Ghanaians to the ideals of Nkrumah.

The overall spread of power was given graphic description by Nkrumah himself in 1959: "...I would like to explain the relationship of our party, the Convention People’s Party CPP. It is a nation-wide political party containing the vast majority of our country. It is likened to a mighty tree with many branches. The Convention People’s Party constitutes the root and the trunk, and its branches include such organisations as the United Ghana Fanners’ Council, the Trades Union Congress, the Co-operative Movement, the Ex- servicemen, etc... 19 branches in short”. In 1959, as John Tettegah of the TUC said: "The CPP was Ghana and Ghana was the CPP".

This pictorial description above shows exactly how Nkrumah and his CPP government deliberately disintegrated the very fabrics of Ghana with oppression, hatred, intimidation and injustice, and above all, the moral degradation and corruption that surfaced the CPP govt.

Today, it is evidently clear that the curse of betrayal, traitorous, opportunistic and extreme selfishness of Nkrumah is running through the generations of the followers of CPP, eg, imagine how Nkrumah betrayed his collaborators that invited him from UK to become the secretary of UGCC, look at how Dr. Ndum betrayed NPP after working and gaining his popularity under Kufour for eight years. I never imagined that Mills could ever betray Rawlings and NDC party so badly that he could deliberately promote and protect the legacies of Kwame Nkrumah more than that of Mr. Rawlings and NDC party that gave him the opportunity to lead the country.

Now it has become intensely difficult for people to differentiate between the CPP party and NDC party in power as Mills continues to use all his precious time promoting CPP and its founder, purposefully neglecting the NDC party and its founder.

Peter Antwi


Romford – London.

Columnist: Antwi, Peter