June 30th,1982 will forever remain the most darkest day in the history of our nation. Three Justices of our high court; Justices F.P. Sarkodie, K.A. Agyepong, Cecilia Koranteng Addo and Major Sam Acquah (Director of Personnel at GIHOC) were picked up collectively from their homes and murdered. Exactly 30 yrs has gone by and yet where is justice. From day one Rawlings has been suspect numero uno, and the motive for these crimes seems a missing ingredient in the recipe for justice but an investigative journalism on the part of yours truly makes the case worthy of attention.
In his book GHANA & THE RAWLINGS FACTOR, British author Dr. Kevin Shillington chronicles why credence should be lent to the notion that Rawlings was behind the killings. During the AFRC regime, Rawlings met with the political parties and demanded the special courts set up by the AFRC, be inculcated in the constitution as well as his immunity from prosecution. These were dubbed the PROVISIONAL TRANSITIONS and for fear of Rawlings not handing over power, the political parties acquiesced although (as intellectuals and astute as they were in politics), they knew the provisional transitions were antithesis to democracy.
Before I cut to the chase, please allow me give you a historical background of these special courts. You see. these courts were institutionalized right after the ’79 coup. Many were arrested for no apparent reasons. Some were arrested for just being successful entrepreneurs. Due process of law were not followed. Many were sentenced without being tried, some were arrested and never seen again. Even some of the judges who presided over cases were not members of the judiciary, extra judicial killings were the main product of the courts and this was what the politicians signed on to. These courts were in session through the early months of the Limann administration. Limann, who was himself a constitutional scholar, knew the courts were wrong and not in close proximity to democracy, but could not stop them since the Provisional Transitions made them constitutional.
These courts were an insult to democracy, and Justices Sarkodie, Agyepong, and Koranteng-Addo felt it was time to stop them. They condemned them judiciously and vociferously. Many AFRC convicts were set free. In a single act of jurisprudence, Justice Koranteng-Addo granted the HABEAS CORPUS application of one Lloyd Shackelford an AFRC convict, and was subsequently freed on the grounds that he was never tried. Many decisions of the AFRC courts were overturned, and this sparked a constitutional higgledy-piggledy. Whilst all these were going on, Rawlings who was relegated to just a soldier in the civilian interregnum was fuming on the sidelines.
He felt insulted by the Judges efforts in thwarting the gains he thought he had made during the brief AFRC regime, and as history tells us, Rawlings knew what he was going to do. Parliament decided to step in, and came to the conclusion that the special courts set up by the AFRC, were an anathema to democracy, and therefore must be abolished. Limann argued that they were tempering with the constitution, but parliament won’t be denied of their legislative authority. They went ahead in abolishing the courts. Many judges worked behind the scenes in seeing the cessation of these courts come to pass, but the three murdered Justices led the charge in raising Cain about them.
Rawlings who was plagued by intellectual deficiency syndrome at that time saw the Justices as obstacles to the PNDC since he had a dictatorial agenda for the nation as evidenced in his tenures. These Judges who were legal luminaries in their own rights had been surreptitiously pressurizing the regime to return the nation to constitutional rule after usurping the will of Ghanaians on 31st Dec ’81. Exactly 6 months after the second coming of Junior Jesus, Justices Sarkodie, Koranteng- Addo, Agyepong and Maj. Sam Acquah were brutally murdered. The late Osofo Komfo Damuah who was a member of the PNDC at that time, was perspicacious in admitting the link between the crimes and the extra judicial killings which was a product of the special courts. He later called for a full and thorough independent investigations, and as a result was forced to resign on Aug.18th. He was perceived to be undermining the regime.
In his testimony to the National Reconciliation Commission, Matthew Adabugah (a former associate of the 31st Dec coup) left no stone on turned as he confirmed what we had suspected all along, by pointing the finger solely on the master mind behind the killings. He testified under oath that, AMEDEKA, DZANDU, SENYA AND TEKPOR (who were rank and files in the regime) upon knowing that the special investigation board were closing in on them, confessed to him that they did the killings at the behest of Rawlings, and that Joachim Amartey Kwei led them to the houses of the victims. He then confronted Rawlings only to be told to keep his mouth shut, since it was meant to be a national secret.
He also said Rawlings intimated he was planning to send the executioners to either Cuba or Bulgaria. One thing that continues to baffle Ghanaians is the inclusion of Maj. Sam Acquah to this dastardly crimes.
The economic malaise during Limann’s brief tenure as a result of the incompetent military regimes we had, brought about strikes and demonstrations in the civil service work force. You see, the civil service was not yet acclimated to the democratic structure, so the early months of the 3rd Republic was a struggle. Which looking back in retrospect was quiet understandable given what the nation had gone through prior to democratization. Sporadic demonstrations and strikes from the civil servants were prevalent as a result of inadequate salaries.
After a strong warning from Maj. Acquah to the workers of GIHOC not to strike, they struck and that led to the dismissal of the entire GIHOC employees by their director Maj. Acquah. Joachim Amartey Kwei who was the secretary General of the GIHOC workers union, was irate. His fight through the courts to get his members reinstated, was an exercise in futility. So when Rawlings intimated his intension of murdering the Justices, the inclusion of Major Acquah became a gift to Joachim and a subterfuge to the nation. In other words making Maj. Acquah expendable would muddy the investigation since the abolition of the extra judicial killings had no correlation to Maj. Acquah.
Later a sham trial was put up by the Rawlings led PNDC and we were told Joachim, Amedeka, Dzandu, Senya and Tekpor were put to death by firing squad. But you see, no one witnessed their demise and they still live today on a huge sum of compensation from the regime. When it comes to exposing the rabbit trails of Rawlings, I don’t mince words. Rawlings is a criminal and he ordered the killings of the Judges as a political payback and also his perception of the Judges as obstacles to the PNDC. Today on the 30th anniversary of the killings, I dedicate this piece to the families of the victims and especially to Sarks (the son of Justice Sarkodie) who was my junior at Accra Academy. I want you to know you are in our hearts and minds, and we will not relent in raising Cain about these dastardly crimes till justice is served.
Kwadwo Poku N Y
Sources; Ghana & The Rawlings Factor By British Author Dr. Kevin Shillington, Testimony To The NRC By Matthew Adabugah