04.03.2003 Feature Article

Reconciling with "Coup Plotters"?

Reconciling with
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The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) set up by the Kufuor administration commenced its sittings early this year. The main objective is to seek and promote national reconciliation among the people of Ghana, assuming we were or are at each other’s throat. Various groups of people have, however, read their own varied meanings into the reasons for the setting up of the Commission. So far, various stories have been recounted on the floor of the commission ranging from confiscation of properties lawfully or unlawfully, beating up of people to torturing them, whichever way you choose to describe the abuses, and detentions with or without trials. The spotlight periods has been periods of unconstitutional governments, or simply put military regimes, and some ‘windows’ of opportunity opened for incidents during other regimes. Sorry, I have not heard of any doors. Certain persons whose names were mentioned as suspected perpetrators have also appeared at the commission, most probably with the intention of clearing themselves, or at least telling their side of the story. For example, Mr. E.T. Baba of the Ghana Prison Service and Naval Captain (Rtd) Baffour Asase-Gyimah, former National Security Co-coordinator also appeared in a similar manner. However, the discretion as to who appears before the commission when he/she is ‘indicted’ remains solely in the hands of the NRC. I stand to be corrected anyway.

People are eager to see former President Jerry Rawlings at the commission for various reasons and intentions. Well, do you think some people will also not be interested in hearing the Former President narrate and provide some graphic evidence of the torture he underwent after the 15th May, 1979 failed coup attempt? So, I may not be totally wrong for saying people have various reasons for wanting to see Ft. Lt Jerry Rawlings at the NRC. Yet, many turn to be sympathetic with people who claimed to have been tortured for suspected coup attempts.

Nonetheless, among the several forms of complains narrated at the NRC, as I have mentioned earlier, are detentions (with or without trials) with torture. Within this group were people suspected of subversive activities, ‘coup plotting’. Pardon my language.

I believe that this group of people makes up a significant percentage of the total number of complainants. Some statistics from the NRC records may confirm or reject this perception. Otherwise, records from the national security offices, or at least the frequency at which coup plots were reported those days will support my assertion.

Though I am not an investigator, watching the replay of the proceedings on GTV, I can bet with a 95% confidence that, certain persons were involved in some form of subversive activities, ‘coup plotting’. Hey, do not get me wrong because I said so, for, I equally believe that some of the complainants might have been completely innocent, and for that matter suffered ‘double pain’. Moreover, I do not justify any form of torture being meted on fellow humans, being they traders or coup plotters. Yet, a friend told me, a pig understands only the pigs’ language. But I still think no one desire any form of torture.

As I mentioned earlier, different people may have different reasons for appearing at the commission. What, l am not too sure of is to what extent the commission’s platform is being used to settle political and personal scores.

One person whose appearance at the commission caught attention because no one clear understood his mission was one Captain (Rtd) Ben Edmund Duah. He claimed he spent most part of his life in exile. His call seems to satisfy only one intention; thus to ask that the Indemnity Clause in the 1992 Constitution, which he views as a cover for former President Jerry Rawlings, be removed.

Supporting his demand, he claimed that the former President was responsible for Ghana’s woes. So the Daily Graphic of Friday, 21 February 2003, as quoted has this report: ‘The commissioners sat in silence watching Capt. Duah pour out his revilement on the former President while sections of the audience applauded….’. Emmmmm, Who applauds to such pronouncements during a reconciliation exercise?

In statistics, there is a concept known as hypothesis testing. It is used in decision making, whether to accept or reject a decision. In hypothesis testing a ‘null hypothesis’ (H0) is posed which we hope to reject in favour of an alternative hypothesis (H1). Though this form of statistical tests cannot tell you what is it can at least tell you what is not. That is to say the tests cannot tell you exactly what the alternative is, but can tell what the null hypothesis is not. Sorry to border you with some statistics.

Now, if Captain Duah’s appearance at the NRC were subjected to a hypothesis testing, the outcome will be that, one cannot tell what his real intentions were, but one can say they were not for reconciliation. No. Not at least with Former President Rawlings. I do not need to be corrected here. I hope one of these days we would not hear someone requesting for the head of Mr. Rawlings as a form of compensation in a bid to reconcile with him (remember John The Baptist in the Bible?).

By the way, does anyone need to tell Ghanaians who Ft. Lt. Rawlings is, or was? No. Ghanaians are politically matured now and, therefore know exactly what they expect of their politicians and the National Reconciliation Commission, unless we allow people with hidden intentions to set the agenda for us using the NRC platform.

I am expecting a lot from the honourable NRC team, which we are told would finally recommend institutional reforms and other good things. It is my hope that, at the end of the exercise all Ghanaians, including ‘coup plotters’ would have been reconciled with each other, and we all would join together to clap for ourselves.

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