History Still Remembers Him. Some for “The Good”… Others Are Still Hurting Too.
Six Generals of the Ghana Armed Forces, including two Heads of State, were executed by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) under Former President Jerry John Rawlings.
Flt. Lt. Rawlings condemned them to death over claims of cleansing the country of corruption.
These two Heads of State, Lieutenant-General Okatakyie Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa (1968-1969) and General Fred William Kwasi Akuffo (1978-1979) were both shot in public by a firing squad at the Teshie Shooting Range in Accra.
Also, executed were former Navy Commander Rear Admiral Joy Amedume, former Air Force Commander, Air Vice-Marshal George Yaw Boakye, Deputy Head of State and former Chief of Defence Staff Major-General Robert Ebenezer Abosey Kotei all of them were members of the erstwhile Supreme Military Council.
The other was former Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Colonel Roger Felli.
In May 2002, The Newspaper called “The Chronicle” Posted Something on Rawlings
Two hundred and forty seven (247) full-blooded Ghanaians were to have been shot by a firing squad in the heat of the 4 June 1979 uprising, according to a document in the possession of the Chronicle.
Corroborating testimonies from the refugee community in London, including former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) operatives, also disclosed how these people were going to be tried and the laws under which they were going to be investigated, prosecuted and shot.
Those to be shot included top military officers, especially those who were on record as having held political offices in military and civilian administrations and had enriched themselves from those roles. The list of military black sheep spanned the period February 1966 to 4 June 1979.
Though the document did not mention all 247 people but the names of Lt Gen J.A. Ankrah, Major Gen A.K. Ocran and Lt Gen Okatakyie Akwasi Amankwah Afrifa, all architects of the February 1966 coup that toppled the Kwame Nkrumah government were boldly spelt out.
The Chronicle learnt that it was this plan that was being hatched that compelled General Afrifa to write to Acheampong to deal ruthlessly with Rawlings after his abortive 15 May uprising. A portion of Afrifa’s letter to Acheampong read: “How about if they line us all up and shoot us,” referring to the architects of both the 1969 and 1972 coups.
Others who were to be tried and shot included judges, lawyers, politicians, business people, religious leaders, chiefs and certain leaders of professional bodies, particularly, the vocal ones. Independent sources mentioned the names of Mr Sam Okudzeto, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, Mr Lynes Quarshie-Idun, Odoi-Sykes, S.K. Amofa, Mr Victor Owusu and Bishop Peter Akwasi Sarpong, of Kumasi Catholic Diocese.
To establish a basis for implicating and criminalising top army officers in the Acheampong and Akuffo era, General Acheampong was reportedly coaxed into calling a press conference during which he was expected to expose his colleagues on the National Redemption Council, Supreme Military Council (SMC I) and Akuffo’s Supreme Military Council (SMC II).
Acheampong failed to follow the cue given him by the AFRC leaders and ended up castigating his accusers and retorting, “How many of you sleep with only your wives?” In a fit anger, the AFRC leaders decided to show him where power lies by dragging him, together with Col Utuka, former Border Guards Commander, to the firing range at Teshie to be shot, as the first batch of those who faced the firing squad.
The initial arrangement was that all the top military officers were to be tried by a court martial after they had been investigated by a preliminary investigations team, comprising Captains Koda, Okai Koi, a certain Boateng and a few others. Captains Koda and Okai later fell out of the law themselves and ended up in prison for allegedly taking monies from some businessmen. They were later freed following a well-executed jailbreak that featured AFRC Chairman Rawlings as the architect. The ‘project’, as it was called, was to be coordinated by Flying Officer Odoi and was meant to be a coup to end all coups.
The document did not explain why Afrifa alone paid the ultimate price for the sins of February 1966 coup makers, but his push for a speedy trial of Rawlings and his men must have accounted for his being singled out, the Chronicle learnt. Though the generals were to be charged with high treason under military laws, evidence or the existence of any forms of trial are scanty.
What Happened in January 2014?
Children of late Major General (Rtd) Edward Kwaku Utuka, who according to former President Rawlings was among miltary Generals “sacrificed” during the 1979 uprising to save the country from implosion, believe their father was murdered.
They also described President Jerry Rawlings as an “insensitive, heartless and outrageous” man for attempting to justify extra-judicial killings of their father and his colleagues.
In a statement, the children said Mr Rawlings’ attempts to justify the “murder” of their father, as well as other military leaders such as General I.K Acheampong among others was deplorable.
Mr Rawlings, about a month ago (December 2013) told students at the regional camp of the International Youth Fellowship at the Adidome Senior High School in the Volta region that the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) needed to execute Generals Afrifa, Acheampong, Utaka and other senior Military Officers in 1979 to save the country from implosion.
“We had no choice. We thought let two go. Acheampong and a certain Utuka, very corrupt Generals. They were sacrificed. It was not enough. Ladies and gentlemen, 10 days later, we had to sacrifice another 10 and some of the Commanders were innocent good people but it had to be done because the rage in the country was too high, too much”, Mr Rawlings recalled.
However, Utuka’s children say they are deeply hurt by the former President’s comments.
“We advise him to learn to be very circumspect in his future utterances about the injustices he committed against our father and his colleagues”, they warned.
Below is the full statement from the family:
We Deplore Rawlings’ Distasteful Comments. Our Father Was Not Given Proper and Fair Trial Before Being Murdered by the AFRC
For the last 34 years, we the children of the late Major General (Rtd) Edward Kwaku Utuka have felt the need to keep a dignified silence about the ranting of Jerry John Rawlings regarding our late father and other senior military officers who were murdered following the June 4th 1979 coup d’état.
Thankfully, compassionate and discerning Ghanaians have expressed their outrage at Rawlings’ recent insensitive, heartless and outrageous statements concerning the extra-judicial murder of our late father and his colleagues.
Our beloved father was a professional Army Officer who served Ghana in various capacities with honour and distinction, and of this we are very proud.
Our father was murdered without any semblance of a proper and fair trial by Rawlings and his cohorts. Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) member Captain Baah Achamfuor and Squadron Leader Kosi Dargbe,
Chairman of Rawlings’ Kangaroo Court apparatus confirmed this on oath before the National Reconciliation Commission. It is now known that our father was killed in a sick bid to create ethnic balance and equalisation in the June 4th 1979 coup d’état murders.
Over the years, Rawlings has spoken and acted with impunity. While he enjoyed due process by trial through a Military Tribunal after instigating a mutiny on 15th May 1979, he denied our father that right. Rawlings singles out two Generals, one of whom is our father, General Utuka as having been “very corrupt”.
Rawlings should know that it is one thing to accuse a person of corruption based on rumours and another to actually prove them guilty in a court of law. If one were to apply Rawlings’ logic, several Ghanaian politicians, himself included, would be executed without trial.
Rawlings has shown no sensitivity in his comments and actions to the widows, children (including the orphans he created) and families of the deceased over the years and continues to make provocative statements which are meant to incite hatred and anger, thus re-opening wounds.
While preaching probity, accountability and justice all these years, Rawlings has never subjected himself to any of these principles and has characteristically hidden behind constitutional indemnity clauses to protect himself.
We say to the self righteous Rawlings that no precious human life is worth sacrificing even during the overthrow of a government. The so called “excesses” that took place during the June 4th coup d’état were human beings – people’s fathers, husbands and siblings.
We advise him to learn to be very circumspect in his future utterances about the injustices he committed against our father and his colleagues.
While we believe in freedom of speech, we call on all journalists and politicians to eschew glamourising the atrocious June 4th 1979 mutiny.
Romanticisng this event only serves to encourage Rawlings to rub salt in our wounds. As life is not over yet, the good Lord will judge!
On Thursday November 12, 2020 (The very Day Rawlings Died) This is what the Daughter of I.K. Acheampong Said:
Nana Serwaa Acheampong
“Fmr. President J.J. Rawlings is dead said my visitor, I said it’s fake news! What’s the source I asked, Graphic online he said. Then it must be true. How? Was he sick? We hadn’t heard that he was sick. I checked my phone, loads of posts confirming that yes indeed he was dead! When he was alive people often asked me how I felt about him. My response, nothing and it’s true, because if I had spent my life hating him for having killed my father, what a wasted life that would have been. Now he’s dead, and somehow I feel robbed, cheated because unlike my father, Rawlings’ death was too easy, too comfortable probably. Death by firing squad, that’s how my father died, when I was just 6 years old. At the time I didn’t understand, but as I grew up, it started to become clearer, I had no one to call father. Now I think, his children and I are the same fatherless! But at least they grew up knowing their father, they grew up being provided for and protected by their father. So no we are not the same. Rawlings took my father away from me by firing squad, leaving me with no father to provide for me or protect me. Rawlings is dead and I feel cheated. If there is an afterlife where you meet those who have gone before, I wonder what Rawlings will say to my father, who showed him kindness, and all the others he killed so ruthlessly. In this life, Rawlings never acknowledged the pain he caused so many of us, never said sorry for our loss or showed remorse. Nothing! So Rawlings is dead, to me his death was too easy, too comfortable, unlike the death he gave my father and countless others. Aside from this I feel nothing about the man, except pity for his children who now know the pain of losing a father.
Thank you to all those reaching out to me at this moment.”
Rawlings was a hero to some, a father to others, a monster to some, a benefactor to others…. But in all we should understand that:
NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR INTENTIONS ARE, TAKING HUMAN LIFE WILL ALWAYS BE A SERIOUS OFFENCE (Physically and Spiritually)
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”