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13.09.2008 Feature Article

Judges murdered: Death and Pain: Rawlings' Ghana the inside story (Part 6)

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Playing scrabble with Tekpor while Dzandu sat by one evening, I asked them why they killed the judges and the retired army officer. Tekpor was a fantastic scrabble player for his educational background. There was a momentary silence. Then.

'Mr. Mike, you are going to raise this topic again,' Dzandu said. 'I've told you we don't feel proud about that incident and would rather not talk about it.

'Well I think it's in your interest to talk about it, for even though you have appeared before the Special Investigations Board and told your story, with the publication of the report early this month, there must be another side of your story which has not been told.

'ok I'll start from the beginning of our friendship' said Tekpor. 'Johnny is, I think twenty-four and I'm twenty-six. We first met at the Boys Company in Kumasi and being both Ewes from the northern part of the Volta Region, we took to each other. Perhaps it was not even our tribe which brought us together. You know how friendships are made. That chemistry that you cannot identify comes between you and you are friends.

After passing out from the Boys Company, I served in Kumasi first before being transferred to the Recce Regiment in Accra. Johnny was sent to Ho, Mortar Regiment. He seemed to have got fed up easily with the military service and so left the country, without serving his minimum term, in 1978.

He went to Munich in West Germany. While he was away, I had an accident in the course of my official duties and was demobilized. I broke my arm and it didn't heal properly so this affected my elbow.'

' then in the summer of 1980 I returned home', cut in Dzandu ' to see my closest friend and find out what I could do to help him. That was the biggest mistake I ever made in my short life. I returned home well prepared. I brought a brand new BMW car, a second- hand Peugeot 604 and my pretty German girlfriend,' he bean his funny contagious laughter and Tony joined him.

'Mafia', Tony shouted.

'Mafia,' the other returned it.

'When the cars arrived at Tema Port, I had to look round for money to take delivery of them. My search for money took us to Flt-Lt Jerry Rawlings who, by then, had handed over power to a civilian government in September 1979. He told us he had no money of his own, but directed us to the Mortar Regiment in Ho where we were to see an RSM to give us the over ¢ 150,000 needed. After taking delivery of the cars, I sold the Peugeot to repay the money I borrowed.'

'Then on day,' Dzandu continued, 'Tony and I decided to visit the barracks at Ho just to show them that I had made it within a short time after quitting the army.

"We entered the army barracks and I left my car, with the tape recorder on, not too far from the Commander's office and went to talk to some friend. When the Commander, Col. Seth Obeng, came out of his office, he saw the car and asked whose it was.

"The guard told him it was mine. I was called to appear before him immediately. In fact I was marched into his presence. He told me I had gone AWOL in 1978 and for that reason I was to be locked up in the guard room and court marshaled. Everything I said fell on deaf ears, and like a joke I found myself behind bars moments later. Tony was also locked up with me to ascertain his claim that he had been demobilized. The following day he was released and I was left in the guardroom.'

Tony Tekpor continued the story from here. He drove the car to Accra and started making contacts to get his friend released from military detention. He walked the corridors of power to no avail. Finally he went to see the one man who helped them before, Jerry Rawlings.

'He told me he didn't have much influence in the army anymore so there was little he could do. He however added that he was planning something and he would need my help at the appropriate time. I understood this to mean he was planning a coup. Then the coup happened. Come and see me that day! I must have drunk two bottles of whisky.'

Both of them knew that this was the time Jerry was talking about and for having helped them before, they were also determined to help him stay in power. They said they owed him an obligation. Matters were made much easier for them when they found out that almost all the soldiers who helped Jerry to seize power were 'Boys' from Kumasi. They fitted in neatly.

'We were drafted to do the difficult jobs. Arrest people, beat them up and even kill when necessary. As soldiers, even though both of us were, strictly speaking, no more in the army, we had been trained to kill and we felt very little compunction when it came to performing our duty well,' Dzandu observed.

'On 30 June, 1982,' 'I went out with my Ghanaian wife. When I returned home I was told Amedeka had come to look for me and had left a message that he would return to pick me up for an operation. My wife said I shouldn't go. If I had listened to her all this would not have happened. When he returned he prevailed on me and I accompanied him in a vehicle which looked like a jeep.' Dzandu lived at Kpehe and Tekpor at the Kanda Estate.

'On the way he said I should take him to Tony's house and I did.' He had told the Special Investigations Board (SIB), set up by the government to investigate the murders that he had been forced at gunpoint by Amedeka to take him to Tony's house. In his story to me he did not say this.

Tekpor said when Amedeka, Michael Senyah and Dzandu went to his house at Kanda Estate he was not in. it was , however, when they were going to the Burma Camp to collect the operational permit that they saw him at the Military Hospital Roundabout and stopped him.

Since he could not leave his car there he asked them to follow him to the BP station opposite the Penta Hotel. The SIB report just said that Tekpor was picked up at the Penta Hotel.

The Statesman
The Statesman, © 2008

The author has 33 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: TheStatesman

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