The year was circa 50 AD and the scene was Rome, capital of the very famous Roman Empire. After Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus, the next Emperor Tiberius was no very old, his main pillar of support, his mother Livia was long dead and he was reckless, very wicked, draconian in his decrees making life very uncomfortable for everybody – from senators down to the ordinary man.
Bedridden and infirm partly due to old age, Tiberius was almost always indoors, and rumours had it that the Emperor was dead, no, he is alive, no he died last night – one afternoon the heir apparent, Caligula, a boy of 18 years, thinking that Tiberius was really dead took the crown, fixed it on his head and was roaming the palace, shouting, “I am the Emperor!” Following him was his trusted principal bodyguard, General Macro.
Suddenly, a word came to Caligula that the Emperor had heard his taunts around the palace – of course, that could only mean death for Caligula. Quickly, he consulted General Macro, who on his orders went straight to the bedchamber of Emperor Tiberius and used a pillow to smother him to death.
Needless to say, Caligula took over as Emperor of Rome.
I remember that July 2012 day so well – about 4:00pm. I was returning to Accra from the High Court in Koforidua driving at a top speed. Just as I passed by the main entrance to 37 Military Hospital, I heard on the radio in my car: “Breaking News – The death is reported at 37 Military Hospital of Professor John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana…”
I first saw him at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, in 1974 when I entered there to read law. Late in 1976, as a third year student, he lectured me in Commercial Law, and again in 1984 as a fourth year law student at Makola Law School, he lectured me in Company Law.
I was so noisy at Legon that literally all the law lecturers knew me, very well, and I remember so well the last time I had a very serious practical interaction with him was at about 6:30pm one evening when as usual he was seated with his friend, the Airport Shell Manager, Commodore Mensah, talking I was sure about Accra Hearts of Oak. Not long after, I heard that Jerry Rawlings had named him his vice president.
Interesting enough, he and I shared the same birthday– 21 July – and I remember his last birthday in 2012 – the man looked very fragile and weak, having just returned from a medical treatment abroad.
A few days thereafter, he died. Oh! What happened?
Officialdom was very tight and extremely economical with details of his death. All we were told was that he was at the Castle, working, when his condition became worse, and he was rushed to 37 Hospital where allegedly he was pronounced dead on arrival.
As for the rumours that flew about at that time, it is a thousand for a penny.
“Some powerful boxer stormed his office and strangled him to death.” They changed his medication so he died from poisoning…”
“There was NO CAR to carry the President to hospital so he was put in some rickety Peugeot 504…”
The question that I Captain have always asked myself is that if the whole President of Ghana is sick, as we all knew, in Ghana, and he has had an attack, why was he NOT rushed to Castle Clinic for emergency first aid, or Stadium Clinic, just close by, or La General Hospital or SSNIT Hospital – all within minutes of siren blaring convoy. Why take him through afternoon traffic all the way to 37 Hospital? Where was his military ADC? Where were the presidential staffers?
When a very important person like the president of Ghana passes away, on duty, in office, and you keep the circumstances of his death under wraps, you open a door to the stinking room of rumours.
And for as long as time runs, the rumours will continue to come up, again and again.
According to the Daily Guide front page banner headline of Friday, May 8, 2020….” I Didn't Kill Mills” says Mahama. The story at page three says the vociferous NPP Chairman for Bono Region Kwame Baffoe Aka Abronye has allegedly accused former President John Dramani Mahama of killing Atta Mills so he has instructed his lawyers to take the matter up.
You know what will stop all these rumours? Let President Akufo-Addo set up a 'Presidential Commission to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of President John Evans ATTA Mills' to be chaired by a justice of the High Court to question all those who are supposed to know something about the death of the president and publish the report for posterity.
The best person to have done this was President Mahama when he took power – that would have settled all matters.
Right now, as things stand, the rumours will continue. The other day embittered Yaw Boateng Gyan, former NDC National Organiser, threatened on a radio station that if they push him he will say what happened on the death of President Atta Mills … and the other day Ebo Quansah published an incisive detailed piece on the saga of the President's death – I was even anxious for him.
“I didn't kill Mills” says Mahama (courtesy Daily Guide). So, who killed him? Or is it that Mills was killed? By whom? Or by what?
Right now, Nana Addo, our President, is so busy managing how to CONTAIN the universal coronavirus pandemic in Ghana that I seriously wonder whether he would even have time to read this article, let alone going to the extent of setting up a presidential commission to investigate the circumstances of the death of President Atta Mills…” I can also hear him saying, “Effah, this is NOT a priority now….”
So, the debate/rumour/finger-pointing goes on… “it did it” “No, it was you!” “I swear I didn't do it”… My father-in –law's people are saying 'saayooo'…!!!”
By Nkrabeah Effah Dartey