They were murders most foul. On June 30, 1982, three high court judges and a retired army officer were abducted from their homes in Accra in the dead of the night and murdered. A curfew was in place, and the victims were taken all the way to Bundase Military Firing Range in the Shai Hills and executed.
The victims were Mrs. Justice Cecelia Koranteng Addow, a nursing mother at the time, Mr. Justice Poku Sakodie and Mr. Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong, all high court judges. Major Sam Acquah (rtd), then Head of Administration at the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC), was the fourth victim,
The repercussions of this heinous crime have divided the country ever since. More than a decade after the National Reconciliation Commission, constituted to go into the matter to reconcile the nation, finished its work and submitted its report, the heinous crime continues to separate people on the political battlefield.
Many are those who point to the operators of state machinery at the time as those who orchestrated the crime using their most trusted foot soldiers. The defenders of the regime, on the other hand, insist that the murders were the brain-child of a few reckless personalities, who had nothing to do with the established order at the time.
With the opposition National Democratic Congress claiming to be inspired by the so-called revolution, master-minded by Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings, the leadership and party foot soldiers have always had their backs to the wall whenever the subject is broached. On the other side of the political divide, followers of the governing New Patriotic Party would always want to cash in on the political fallout of the heinous act.
In between, grieving relatives continue to suffer from the inequities of the justice system to address the pain in their hearts.
Yesterday’s screening of a documentary on the murders on Joy Television, which attempted to tell the story behind the story, appears to have re-opened old wounds. There was Kwabena Agyei Agyapong, son of murdered Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong, trying hard to withhold his tears while telling the story of how his father was abducted, as he saw it as a seventeen year-old boy.
Retired Major-General Nunoo-Mensah’s account of his retirement from the Provisional National Defence Council on learning of the abduction of his boyhood friend, Major Acquah (rtd), would not draw much sympathy from grieving relatives and the general public, on the account of his role in establishing the regime in the first place.
The revelation that Superintendent Yidana, the efficient police officer who investigated the crime and whose report played a key role in getting the Special Investigation Board understand the nuances behind the crime, was jailed for a long time on trumped up charges of aiding renegades to attempt to overthrow the regime, tells much about the official plot to conceal the truth.
There was George Agyekum, Chairman of one of the tribunals established to do the dirty work of the regime and who became a victim of the brutalities of the PNDC and had to run away and seek refuge in Europe, trying rather too hard to justify his role in aiding the regime to establish the culture of silence that reigned for a decade.
In all, The Chronicle holds that the screening of the documentary on the murder of the judges, only confirmed the notion that the National Reconciliation Committee failed to reconcile the perpetrators of atrocities under the PNDC, and those who suffered under the brutal nature of the regime.
There were Flt. Lt. Rawlings and Major Kojo Tsikata (rtd), the two most influential characters on the PNDC, identified in the Special Investigation Board report as the main characters in the drama, lying through their teeth before the commission without any sanctions.
More than 36 years after the PNDC set goons on those identified as enemies of the so-called revolution, a number of prominent Ghanaians are still unaccounted for. Nana Osei Ntifu Ababio, then Adontenhene of the Akwapim Traditional Area, or his body, has still not been found. Known in private life as Mr. B. B. Bismarck, he was a former team manager of the Black Stars. Mr. Apostle Barnabas Akrong, Editor of the Believers Newspaper and a critic of the regime, also went missing at the time. There is still no trace of him.
The list of murdered victims and those missing from atrocities committed by agents of the PNDC, is endless. And, yet, they say they came to redeem this country and its people from oppression.
If you ask this paper and its operators why the concept of the political persuasion tracing its roots to the anarchy of the time has not been properly understood and conceptualised in this outfit, there is your answer.