Gruesome Murder of the Judges and Army Officer - Details of How it Happened
View pictures in App save up to 80% data. It was a Wednesday, and just like any ordinary day, it was supposed to be business as usual. After close of work that day, workers had returned home to their families. Judges also returned home to their families. Soldiers did same.
The next day, July 1, being a national holiday, that night was going to be a little longer because tired limbs were going to spend a little more time in bed.
But lo, it was not to be. Horror that had been conceived and nurtured in the heart's of evil men had to be given birth to that night. Friends, or is it architects of the revolution had decided to vent their spleen on some perceived enemies of the revolution. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Fred Poku Sarkodie, Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong, all High Court judges, and Major Sam Acquah (Rtd), on that fateful day, were abducted from their homes during curfew hours, and savagely murdered.
Who were the perpetrators of that heinous crime? What were their motivation? Did they commit the crime alone? Or it was done in concert with others? Has the nation been told the whole truth? Has justice really been served?
On June 30, 1982, the three judges and the retired military officer were seized from their homes under cover of darkness.
Mr. Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong was lured out of his house under the pretext that Mrs. Cecilia Koranteng-Addow had suddenly fallen ill and wanted to see him. Major Sam Acquah was told he was needed at Burma Camp.
All four were taken to the Bundase Military firing range on the Accra plains. They were gathered under a tree, and shot dead. Their bodies were soaked in petrol and then set ablaze to cover up any trace of the horrible crime.
But the heavens would not endorse the cover up. It rained that night so the bodies were only partly burnt.
The next morning, news started making rounds about the disappearance of the four. At first, the victims were believed to have been just kidnapped. Johnny Hansen, the PNDC Secretary for the Interior, assured Ghanaians that the police were leaving no stone unturned to find them.
The burnt bodies were first chanced upon by some soldiers on Saturday July 3. On the next day, July 4, the charred bodies were recovered and subsequently identified.
The hearts of Ghanaians were broken. This sort of crime was unprecedented in the history of Ghana. That day, July 4, in an address to the nation, Chairman Rawlings described the dastardly act as 'hideous acts of terrorism'. His conclusion was that enemies of the revolution had committed the act to plunge the country into chaos.
Senior PNDC officials condemned what was described as a 'stain on Ghana's history'. PNDC member, Rev. Father Vincent Damoah admitted the possibility of a link between the judges' killings and the large number of other cases of extra-judicial killing and molestation of civilians by soldiers. Out of disgust for what was going on, Father Damoah resigned from government in August.
The volume of public condemnation and outcry could not be ignored. The PNDC was this compelled to yield to calls for full investigation into the deaths. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
To unravel the secret behind the murders, on July 15, a Special Investigative Board was established. The SIB was chaired by a former Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Samuel Azu Crabbe. The lead investigator was Mr. Jacob Jabuni Yidana. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Five months into their work, the SIB had cracked the tough nut. The abductors were figured out, and the key personalities behind them also revealed. A Lance Corporal and three others confessed to the sordid abduction and murder.
The four killers were L/Cpl Samuel Amedeka, then aged 27, Michael Hekli, alias Senya, 21 years, Johnny Dzandu, 23 years, and Tony Terkpor, aged 24.
How were these four and the brains behind them revealed. The task was a difficult one. But the expertise and experience of the Police Investigators were more than equal to the task. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
One of the police Investigators, DSP David Ohene Asah revealed that a tip he had about some soldiers having gone to the Tema Port to take two Fiat Campagnola Jeeps provided the lead. Checks at the Tema Port showed that L/Cpl Amedeka signed for the vehicles. He was trailed, arrested and questioned.
Amedeka then named Jonny Dzandu, Tony Terkpor and Michael Hekli as those who helped him pick the judges from their homes.
What's more, Amedeka also mentioned Mr. Amartey Kwei, a member of the PNDC, as having assigned them that job. He said that earlier Mr. Kwei had taken him round to point out the victims houses. He further provided the death squad a security pass(permit) to enable them move freely during curfew hours. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
When Mr. Amartey Kwei was picked up, he mentioned Captain Kojo Tsikata as the main architect behind the murders. Though Kojo Tsikata was not a member of the PNDC, he was one of the main fulcrum around which the 31st December Revolution revolved. He was in charge of National Security.
From this time, the work of the SIB was going to be nothing but difficult. Even before the Board could present their final report, the government had started harassing some of its members. J. J. Yidana and David Ohene Asah had their passports seized. The former was arrested and spent some years in prison. The latter managed to flee the country to escape arrest.
The SIB report indited ten people and recommended their prosecution. The list included three PNDC members: Joachim Amartey Kwei, Captain Kojo Tsikata and Sergeant Alolga Akata Pore. But the Government's White Paper rejected parts of the report, and instead prosecuted only five. Amartey Kwei, Samuel Amedeka, Johnny Dzandu, Michael Hekli and Tony Terkpor were the unlucky ones.
It is instructive to note that wife of Jerry Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings' name came up as being at the periphery of the plot.
At the trial Amartey Kwei gave inconsistent accounts on the involvement of Kojo Tsikata. It is believed that Amartey thought or was made to think that exonerating Tsikata, Rawlings closest ally, could lead to some sort of reprieve for him.
During the prosecution by a Public Tribunal, chaired by George Agyekum, Amedeka, Dzandu and Terkpor escaped in a jailbreak. All but Amedeka were rearrested. They were sentenced to death, and were executed. Amedeka was sentenced to death in absentia.
Moments before Amartey Kwei was shot, Rawlings had a recorded conversation with him. He claimed Kwei confessed to having lied about Tsikata's involvement.
The best way to have truly cleared the name of his eternal comrade, Kojo Tsikata, was to have made public Amartey Kwei's 'confession'.
Has the whole truth being told in this incident that has stained Ghana's history for good? Were some people left off the hook, who should have faced justice? What has Rawlings to hide, seeing the manner he reacts anytime this topic is mentioned? Time will tell. Sometimes, time never tells.