Only The Heartless Would Celebrate June 4th

Fri, 4 Jun 2010 Source: Ibrahim, Faisal

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The June 4th coup was nothing but an orchestrated event to enrich a few hungry disgruntled young officers and their cahoots. Deceit was embedded in the plan which saw many Ghanaians fall in love with the lies being bundled around by proponents of the insurrection. The “June 4th ideals” which are being propounded in our ears are “probity and accountability”, there is no doubt in the minds of many that the leaders of the June 4th coup would fall far below the measure they used to murder, maim, detain, execute and destroy other people and their families. Fall outs from that coup are so painful that, it would be irresponsible and wicked for any group of persons to want to celebrate it. However, it is not strange those who are busily engaging in its celebrations are direct beneficiaries of it. The June 4 coup ousted the Supreme Military Council [SMCII]

The Supreme Military Council II [SMC II] chaired by Lt-Gen Frederick W.K. Akuffo was regrettably ousted by the June 4 coup. Ghana was on its way to start a constitutional rule when the June 4 insurrection took place. The SMC II issued a decree [SMCD 203] for a Constituent Assembly to be formed. The mission of the constituent assembly was to draft a constitution. In fact, they completed their work and Ghana had a constitution. The country was in the a campaigning and electioneering mode. Political parties had been formed. A date for parliamentary and presidential elections was set [1st July 1979].

While the country was on this progressive path, a group of hungry junior military officers hijacked the future of our country with the coup. The coup was orchestrated by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) chaired by Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings. It would not be out place to conclude that the June 4th coup denied Ghana constitutional democracy for over two decades. Given this facts, it would be fallacious for proponents of the coup to pontificate that the AFRC/PNDC gave Ghana constitutional democracy.

Members of the AFRC lied to the nation that they had no political ambitions. Their main mission was to do a “house-cleaning” within the ranks of the armed forces. They accused the SMC [the ousted military government] of bringing the name of the military intitution into disrepute. They accused the military leaders of corruption, immorality, thievery, cronyism, profligacy, mismanagement, insensitivity and many ills which they claim had created a bad impression about the military in the minds of the public. Hence their main pre-occupation was to clean the military for a restoration of respect, dignity and honor to the military.

Ghanaians believed what the AFRC preached. Many, including academicians, journalists, students, market women, artisans etc hailed the coup. Many thought the leaders of the coup were going to heed to their words, only for the country to be fooled by these self seeking junior military officers.

The AFRC proceeded to beat, execute, maim and detain many senior military officers in pursuant to their “house cleaning” exercise. Gen. Acheampong, Maj-Gen Utuka, Gen. Akuffo, Lt-Gen Afrifa and other high ranking military officers were executed by firing squad. Civilians who took up political positions were not spared the “house cleaning” exercise

After letting the “blood flow” within the armed forces, the AFRC rather disappointingly unleashed its blood thirsty instincts on ordinary innocent civilians. Many families and businesses have been destroyed by these so-called saviors. The AFRC’s 112 days regime saw an unprecedented number of human rights abuses. The Amisah Nunoo case was a classical case of sheer display of power held by undeserving and blood thirsty junior officers.

On 20th June, 1979, Nunoo, a businessman of Akim Oda was arrested by about seven soldiers. They seized goods in his shop amounting to over ¢1 million as well as some personal effects. The soldiers took him to the Achiase Jungle Warfare School.

Mr. Nunoo gave his own account of the incident as follows [before the National Reconciliation Commission]:

“I was ordered to board their vehicle and taken to the main Oda lorry park. A large crowd had gathered in front of my house. As soon as we reached the lorry park, I was pushed down violently by about 3 soldiers. Sgt. Kwasi Manu gave an order and almost immediately they started to beat me up with sticks. I recall a number of people screaming and crying. I remember that a woman who pleaded on my behalf was slapped by a soldier. I was beaten mercilessly for 40 minutes. In fact I fainted ( I later learnt that I was hurled into the truck). Everyone who was present believed I was dead and even went to console my wife.

When I came to I found myself at the barracks at Achiase, near Oda. …

…On the 3rd day at Achiase Barracks I was drilled and ordered to lift a rock nickname “Pharoah”. ...I was constantly beaten. Eventually, I was released after 4 days.

I was never charged or told what I had been detained for. I was sent home and then rearrested after 2 days on the 26th /27th June, 1979.

I can’t remember their names but 2 men came with an army vehicle to re-arrest me; I was taken again to Achiase Barracks and drilled. For eight days I was beaten, asked to roll on the ground for 20 minutes etc. I was badly treated. I was shaved with a broken bottle – I cannot describe the pain which is very vivid in my mind till this day.

There are many who suffered unjustifiably in the hands of the goons of the AFRC regime.

The short lived AFRC regime terrorized many innocent civilians, especially the resourceful in the country. Business men and women suddenly became the target of the blood thirsty junior military officers.

There were instances citizens had to justify reasons for buying 2 cars. Some were asked ridiculous questions, in their humble bid to answer those questions, they are greeted with hefty dirty thunderous slaps by military officers. A case in point was Col Kofi Abaka Jackson’s experience before the Preliminary Investigation Team (PIT) which he describe in his book “When Gun Rules” pages 123 – 127:

“As soon as I sat down, one of the Other Ranks, a Corporal, came to stand behind me. The other Other Rank stood behind…The Chairman asked the Pilot Officer to bring out my file…The chairman and the secretary glanced through the folder then started questioning me: “You alone have three houses. Why?” Before I could open my mouth to answer, the soldier who was standing behind me gave me a slap on my right cheek and across my face.

…Another slap landed on my left cheek and a third on my right…I explained: “Out of my reconditioning of vehicles and other machines from 1963, I started to run a family transport business in 1968…

At this stage, the slaps intensified in both strength and rapidity…

I continued to answer their questions…”My second house…

The slaps continued…

I was given a few more swift slaps, a clear warning to me to shut up. My interrogators then turned their attention to my cars. With all the hatred he could muster, a member asked:

“You, you have a Benz and a BMW car. Why?” Before I could utter a word, two hefty slaps landed on my right cheek and eye, followed by another slap on my right cheek…The questioner asked me how I could afford both a Benz and a BMW car?

The random slaps continued… The chairman gave me a stern look as if he was signaling for me to be given more slaps. Two heavy slaps landed on my right jaw in rapid succession. “Why are you looking so fine?”…The soldier, who was standing behind me, gave me more blows to my head…My answer drew three heavy slaps – first on my right cheek, the second on my left and the third on my right cheek…Why are you still looking so fine? The chairman asked.

I ignored the question this time… “Hey, you corporal, you are not slapping him properly; come this way!” the chairman ordered. Looking into the face of the other corporal who was standing immediately to his left, he shouted at him to change places with his colleague who was not ‘performing his duties properly’.

Just as the chairman was about to ask me a question, the new corporal standing behind me unleashed a sharp, stinging slap across my right eye. This was immediately followed by another slap from his left hand. Then, as if he was clapping, he fired both left and right slaps across my face, obviously demonstrating to his boss that he could hit harder, better, and in style too.”

For the direct beneficiaries of the June 4 massacre, they would argue that, these were mere excesses of the regime. I beg to differ on that. Ghanaians were deceived into believing in an unrealized ideal. The probity and accountability ideal they preached fell in water. When the AFRC handed over power to the PNP government, there were many allegations of corruptions against the leaders. In fact, a planned investigation into the AFRC regime also triggered the 31 December coup that ousted a few months old constitutional regime.

The June 4 is part of our nation’s dark history and there is nothing we can do about that. However, attempts to garnish it for celebrations by direct beneficiaries must be discourage. Most shocking is the youth who are being deceived into celebrating this massacre. I hope they spend more time reading history books for the truth. Conditions that existed before the coup did exist through out the AFRC/PNDC era.

It is not strange that the youth of the NDC[descendants of the AFRC/PNDC] have been exhibiting some traits of the June 4 insurrection by issuing threats to government officials. I bet they wish, we were still in those dark days. They would have subjected these government appointees to instant barbaric “justice” or they would have stripped mothers naked and whipped them in the public.

June 4 does not deserve to be celebrated.

I rest my pen!

God save us.

[ Credit: National Reconciliation Commission Report-2004]

Faisal Ibrahim



Columnist: Ibrahim, Faisal