Statement of Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd) to the NRC
1. I am appearing before the National Reconciliation Commission in response to two subpoenas from this Commission dated 21st October 2003 and 12th January 2004 respectively. Both refer to a petition submitted to the National Reconciliation Commission by Mrs. Jemima Acquah regarding the abduction and murder of her husband and the three High Court Judges on 30th June 1982. I have also been informed of petitions of Matthew Adabuga, Chris Asher and William Oduro who made widely published allegations against me in respect of the murder of the three High Court Judges and Major Acquah. I have also received the transcripts of the testimonies of Alex Adjei and Alhassan Akati and I have read their written statements.
2. Following correspondence between my counsel and the Commission, I have been given the opportunity to read at the Commission’s offices, but not to take copies of the statements made to the Commission by most of these persons. I have also obtained copies of the transcripts of their appearances before this Commission. I wish to repeat before the Commission the request that has been made on my behalf by my lawyers that all the persons who have made allegations against me – and in particular, Mathew Adabuga, Chris Asher and William Oduro - should as soon as possible be made available before this Commission to be cross-examined. Many falsehoods that have been brazenly proclaimed before this Commission will be exposed in the process.
3. During the course of the exchange of correspondence between my lawyers and this Commission, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Ken Attafuah acting in the name of the Commission has made unfounded allegations against me, which he has subsequently repeated to the media. In his letter dated 12 January 2004 (Reference NRC/CKT/O7) Mr. Attafuah states:
“Mrs. Jemima Acquah submitted to the Commission a document covering the trial of a number of persons for the abduction and murder of her husband and the three High Court judges; in that document, several of the accused persons, who were subsequently convicted and executed for their roles in the murders, categorically mentioned your client as a person who was involved in the conspiracy to abduct and murder the victims;”
4. Upon further enquiry by my counsel, Mr. Attafuah has explained that the document he refers to is the book by Mr. George Agyekum entitled “The Judges Murder Trial of 1983”. If Mr. Attafuah was indeed relying on the contents of this book, which I believe he would have read carefully, he should be aware that of the five persons whose trial is documented in the book, only one, Amartey Kwei made any such allegation against me. None of the other participants in the crime ever made any allegation linking me to the crime. It is therefore not factually accurate to state that “several” of those convicted “categorically mentioned” me as a person involved in the conspiracy. I believe that the serious nature of the work of this Commission requires as a minimum standard that the Commission and its officers stick to the facts and state these correctly without exaggeration, embellishment, or distortion in order that they can proceed to make a fair evaluation of these facts.
5. I appeared before the Public Tribunal as a prosecution witness during the trial of the five persons charged with the murders of Major Acquah, and Justices Agyepong, Koranteng-Addow and Sarkodee. I had previously appeared before the Special Investigation Board (“SIB”) during its investigation of the murders. The evidence that I gave to the SIB and to the Public Tribunal is the truth of what I know about these murders. I wish to restate before this Commission as I did before the SIB and before the Public Tribunal that I was in no way involved in any conspiracy to kidnap and murder the three High Court Judges and Major Acquah; nor did I participate in any manner whatsoever in these crimes.
6. I would like to go back to certain events, which I mentioned in my testimony before the SIB, and the Public Tribunal, whose bearing on the investigation of the murder of the Judges will become apparent in the course of my testimony before this Commission. In April 1982, I was approached by Ms. Dziewonu Kwao who reported to me the disappearance of her father Mr. Kwao from his home at Anloga. The missing person Mr. Kwao was married to an aunt of mine and I believe it was this relationship which led his daughter to approach me for assistance in finding her father. My initial enquiries brought up the names of a number of military personnel as persons who might have information about the fate of Mr. Kwao – these names were Sergeant Agoha, Bombardier Mathias Cudjoe and Lance Corporal Samuel Amedeka. I sent for Sergeant Agoha whom I previously knew as a junior Non-Commissioned Officer when I was serving in the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. When Agoha came, I asked him if he knew anything about the matter to which he responded that he did not. I then asked him to call the two others Bombardier Cudjoe and Lance Corporal Amedeka. However, neither of these two had turned up by the time I set up a committee to further investigate the matter. Subsequently L/Cpl Amedeka, Bombardier Cudjoe, as well as L/Cpl Senya and about twelve others were arrested and placed in custody on my instructions as a result of information linking them to a coup plot. In the course of his interrogation in connection with the coup plot Amedeka talked about “operations” in the Volta Region earlier in April, which he had participated in, and under further questioning revealed that Mr. Kwao had been killed in those “operations”.
7. The coup plot in which Amedeka was implicated was to have been carried out in early August 1982 while the Chairman of the PNDC was away at the OAU Summit in Libya. The aim of the plotters according to the interrogators was to kill certain persons including myself and certain PNDC Secretaries and to recompose the PNDC with themselves and their collaborators as members of the PNDC or PNDC Secretaries. These were to be presented to the Chairman of the PNDC on his return from Libya as a fait accompli. I set up a panel with Mr. Peter Nanfuri as Chairman and Mr. Bright Akwetey, Major Agbenoto and others as members to further investigate the coup plot. Both Agbenoto and Nanfuri subsequently provided statements to the SIB and testified before the Public Tribunal. Their evidence to the Public Tribunal is recorded at pp 79-82 and pp 82 -83 respectively of Mr. George Agyekum’s book “The Judges Murder Trial of 1983”.
8. It was while Amedeka was in custody being investigated in connection with the coup plot that he broke down and confessed to his role in the murder of the Judges and Major Acquah. He was then transferred to the custody of the SIB.
9. Since the proceedings of the trial of the five convicted persons by the Public Tribunal is the only document which has been cited as the basis of the subpoena of 12th January 2004, I would like to make some further remarks about those proceedings. When I appeared before the Tribunal, I denied the allegations that had been made against me by Amartey Kwei. Amartey Kwei declined to cross-examine me when he was invited to do so by the Chairman of the Tribunal. The Chairman, Mr. Agyekum, then explained to Amartey Kwei the implications of not cross-examining me but Mr. Amartey Kwei maintained his position and did not cross-examine me. One of the other accused, Senya, cross-examined me in an effort to establish that I must have known Amedeka because of the investigations into the killing of Mr. Kwao. I had explained to the Tribunal the circumstances of those investigations and referred to Major Agbenoto report to me of his conversation with Amedeka while the latter was in custody in which Amedeka said he was not sure that I would know him. Major Agbenoto gave this evidence in a statement to the SIB and subsequently in his testimony at the Public Tribunal (see p. 81 of the Judges Murder Trial). Another of the accused persons, Dzandu, also sought to establish by cross-examination that I must have known Amedeka because of his role at Broadcasting House. I explained that even if Amedeka had the role described he would not have been reporting directly to me.
10. Other than Amartey Kwei’s statements, there is nothing in the proceedings of the Public Tribunal trial that links me to these crimes. Mr. Amartey Kwei’s statements were initially made in the course of the proceedings of the SIB chaired by Mr. Justice Azu Crabbe, in circumstances that I will come to later, and were adopted by the SIB as the purported basis for its conclusion in its Final Report that I was the “mastermind” of the crimes.
11. I will therefore proceed to deal with the SIB report and specifically the role of the SIB in falsely accusing me of masterminding the crimes committed by Amartey Kwei and the other four persons charged and convicted. As you will recall, the Special Investigation Board was established under PNDC Law 15 for the specific purpose of investigating the murders. The records of the SIB proceedings show that on 6th November 1982, the SIB submitted its Interim Report to the Attorney-General. Nowhere in that Interim Report was I mentioned as having any connection with the crimes. I was not one of the people that the SIB identified in this report as “the original conspirators” in the plot to kidnap and murder the Judges. In fact, my name did not appear at all.
12. In my view, following the submission of its Interim Report, the SIB chaired by Mr. Justice Azu Crabbe turned an important investigation of a criminal murder case into a political conspiracy against me. While I can only guess at the precise motives and objectives of the conspirators, their actions and the surrounding circumstances suggest an attempt to ensure that I was removed from my position in the PNDC government as part of an attempt to discredit the government in preparation for its overthrow.
13. The principal instrument of that conspiracy was the statement made by Amartey Kwei on 23rd November 1982. In that statement Amartey Kwei alleged, contrary to his previous statement of 15th November 1982, that:
i. I had instructed him to “run off [his] activities” by 2.00 p.m. on 30th June 1982 and see me thereafter;
ii. Between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. that day, I drove him in my car from Gondar Barracks to show him the houses of the victims and asked him to organise their arrest and detention;
iii. I left on his table at Gondar Barracks a note in code to be given to Amedeka, which contained instructions to kill the four victims.
14. As I have previously said and I say again before this Commission, all of these allegations are false. Evidence was provided to the SIB refuting these allegations but the SIB chose to distort and discount this evidence in order to arrive at its conclusion. I will now proceed to support this assertion.
15. Throughout the proceedings Lance Corporal Amedeka who confessed to participating in the murders maintained that I had not been involved in the crime. He did not mention me in any of his statements as having been involved – neither in his confession statement dated 11th October 1982 nor in any of his subsequent appearances before the SIB. Indeed when specifically confronted in the latter stages of the SIB investigations with Amartey Kwei’s allegations against me he denied that I had been involved in any way and expressed surprise at the attempt to implicate me in the murders. He specifically denied having received any note from me as alleged by Amartey Kwei and testified that he had received explicit oral instructions from Kwei to, as he put it, “liquidate” the four victims. (The confrontation between Amartey Kwei and Amedeka is quoted in paragraphs 59 -70 at pages 17-20 of the Attorney-General’s Comments on the Special Investigation Board Report.) However, the SIB chose to discount Amedeka’s clear and consistent evidence on this point and to prefer Amartey Kwei’s contradictory allegations.
16. Let us examine further the circumstances under which Amartey Kwei made his statement of 23rd November 1982 described by the SIB as a “historic statement” (paragraph 182 at page 35 SIB Final Report). Amartey Kwei had been arrested on 8th November 1982. He made a first statement to the Board on 15th November 1982. We are told that on 23rd November 1982 Amartey Kwei volunteered to make a new statement. Chief Superintendent Yidana and Assistant Superintendent of Police William Oduro were part of the team which responded to his request and took his statement in the afternoon of 23rd November 1982. According to ASP Oduro’s written statement to the Commission, there was gunfire from different parts of Accra at the time the statement was being taken. You may recall that 23rd November 1982 was the date of a major attempted coup d’etat against the PNDC. Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah had the previous day 22nd November 1982 issued his letter of resignation as Chief of Defence Staff and member of the PNDC citing as one of the reasons for his resignation the involvement of certain “people in responsible positions” in the murder of the Judges and retired army officer. The following afternoon, fighting broke out between loyalists and dissident troops at Gondar Barracks, Nima and Broadcasting House. Artillery mortar fire was directed at the Castle from the Accra Race Course area where the International Conference Centre now stands. Apparently, under these conditions of shooting and confusion, Chief Superintendent Yidana and ASP Oduro calmly waited as Amartey Kwei dictated his statement, recorded the statement, went over its contents with Amartey Kwei and had him sign it. All of these steps were taken at a time when a major military confrontation between the PNDC government and forces opposed to that government was in progress.
17. Both ASP Oduro and Chief Superintendent Yidana, members of the SIB’s technical investigation team, were subsequently established to have been linked to the coup d’etat of 23rd November 1982. Yidana who is now an official at the Ministry of the Interior was prosecuted and convicted for the offence of harbouring in his home one of the participants in the coup attempt, Lt. Kenneth Korah who had deployed the mortars fired at the Castle from the Race Course and whom Yidana hid in his home after the coup had failed until Korah’s escape from the country. During the investigation of the 23rd November coup attempt it was discovered that Assistant Superintendent Oduro had gone to a number of places including the offices of the airline KLM to request the destruction of evidence concerning the payments made for the purchase of tickets for travel outside the country by a number of the coup plotters in the course of their preparations for the coup. It was ASP Oduro’s efforts to protect the coup plotters by arranging for the destruction of the evidence concerning the purchase of their tickets for travel in preparation for the coup, which led to his arrest. The claim by Oduro before this Commission that he was arrested because of his investigation of the 30th June murders is untrue. The similar claim made by Yidana is also untrue. The connections of Oduro and Yidana with the 23rd November coup plotters and the circumstances in which they took Amartey Kwei’s statement on that day raise questions about their role in the murder investigation and particularly about the genesis of the allegations made in that statement. Yidana’s evasiveness concerning the circumstances in which this statement was taken is apparent from the transcript of his cross-examination before the SIB by my counsel.
18. I note that by Oduro’s account, at pages 4 and 5 of the transcript of his testimony before this Commission on 28 August 2003, there was an occasion when he accompanied Yidana to Mr. Johnny Hansen’s office to wait for me. Mr. Hansen he says then called me to ask me to come to his office. According to Oduro he was told by Yidana that the secret plan was to arrest me in Mr. Hansen’s office.
19. I now address the SIB’s conduct with regard to the evidence of Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah as reported in paragraphs 42-46 of the SIB Final Report. The SIB in this part of its report seeks to explain why it heard Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah in camera. According to the SIB, during its deliberations at the office of its Chairman on 7 December 1982, Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah arrived with the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Interior with a message from Secretary for the Interior, Mr. Johnny Hansen that Nunoo-Mensah was about to leave the country and was required by the government to appear before the Board before he would be permitted to leave the country. The SIB says that in those circumstances, it reluctantly agreed to hear and record Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah’s statement in camera.
20. Although this is not stated in the SIB Report, two days later on 9th December 1982, Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah made a further handwritten statement for the SIB. It should be recalled that Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah had resigned as Chief of Defence Staff on 22nd November 1982 citing as one of the reasons for his resignation the involvement of high-ranking members of the government in the murder of the Judges and retired Army Officers. In his written statement of 9th December 1982 Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah asserts that the reference in his resignation letter to the involvement of high officials in the murders was a reference to me and that his only source of this information was the statement of Amartey Kwei. However, since Amartey Kwei first made this allegation in his statement taken on 23rd November 1982, how could Nunoo-Mensah in writing his resignation letter of 22nd November 1982 be aware of an allegation, which Amartey Kwei had not yet made? I quote from Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah’s statement:
“In my letter of resignation on 22nd November 1982, I mentioned that among the reasons that compelled me to leave the Government was the indication that certain important political personalities might be implicated in this sordid act. My reason for saying this was based on Amartey Kwei’s confession statement in which he had admitted complicity and also indicated that Captain Tsikata masterminded the operation. I had no evidence outside this.”
21. When I became aware of the contents of Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah’s Statement of 9th December I responded in a Statement for the SIB on 15th December 1982 in which I pointed out that Nunoo-Mensah’s resignation letter had in fact been written on 22nd November while Amartey Kwei’s Statement was made on 23rd November.
22. Significantly, the SIB did not include Nunoo-Mensah’s statement of 9th December 1982 in its List of Exhibits in Appendix B at page 73 of its Report. It is also significant that when the SIB refers to Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah’s resignation letter in paragraph 332 of its report it wrongly cites the date of that resignation as 22nd December 1982 instead of 22nd November 1982! The resignation letter is also absent from the List of Exhibits. Paragraph 332 of the SIB Final Report reads in full as follows:
“In his letter of resignation from the P.ND.C. dated 22nd December, 1982 Brig. Nunoo-Mensah wrote:
‘I have been horrified lastly by the senseless and heinous crime of the abduction, murder and the burning of the three High Court Judges, and the retired Army Officer; and more so by the indication that people in responsible political positions might be implicated in this dastardly act. The whole episode casts an ugly slur on the image and integrity of the Government. In the circumstances, I can only bow my head in shame and quit honourably.’
These are the words of the former Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces.”
23. Strangely, in the next paragraph (333) the SIB states:
‘‘But who were those 'in responsible political positions (who) might be implicated in this dastardly act? It might have been very helpful if Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah had named them, especially as he felt very strongly about this matter.’’
24. This comment by the SIB is strange because Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah’s Statement of 9th December 1982 specifically names me as the person to whom he alluded in his letter of resignation. If the SIB was not involved in a conspiracy, why should it try to give the false impression in its report that Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah had not provided the name of the person he had alluded to? I made a statement drawing the SIB’s attention to the material issue of the discrepancy concerning the dates of Amartey Kwei’s statement and that of Nunoo-Mensah’s resignation letter. Why did the SIB not follow up on Nunoo-Mensah’s statement by asking him how it was that he was aware of the contents of Amartey Kwei’s second statement the day before that statement had been made? I am therefore compelled to ask: Did the SIB make an error in stating the date of Nunoo-Mensah’s resignation in paragraph 332 as 22ndDecember, or did it deliberately misstate the date in order to maintain a story whose credibility would obviously have been questionable if the correct date 22nd November had been stated?
25. I have mentioned earlier that the SIB distorted and discounted evidence that tended to refute Amartey Kwei’s allegations against me. A further instance of this relates to Amartey Kwei’s allegation that between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. on 30th June 1982, I had driven him from Gondar Barracks to show him the houses of the victims and had returned with him to Gondar Barracks thereafter. Evidence given by Mr. Augustus Tanoh and Mr. P.V. Obeng showed clearly that I was at the Castle between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. on that day and indeed for the rest of the afternoon. The SIB acknowledged that the hours between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. were critical to its investigations. The SIB, however, distorted my own Statement of 10th December 1982 in which I had stated that I was at work in the Castle that afternoon at the material time, and gave the misleading impression that my acknowledgement that I had been at Gondar Barracks in the morning of the same day contradicted my assertion that I was in the Castle in the afternoon at the time Amartey Kwei alleged I had been with him. The SIB also claimed that there were discrepancies between the evidence of Mr. Tanoh and that of Mr. Obeng and dismissed Mr. Tanoh’s evidence as unreliable. Although the SIB hardly asked either of these witnesses any questions about their statements and did not subsequently seek clarification from them of any alleged discrepancies, it proceeded to conclude that I was with Amartey Kwei at the material time and then purported to determine that I had lied to it concerning my whereabouts and that this lie corroborated Amartey Kwei’s allegations against me. I invite each member of this Commission to closely examine paragraphs 207 to 239 of the SIB Report as well as the statements referred to in that report and determine for him or herself whether the SIB’s conclusions on this point are consistent with an unbiased evaluation of the evidence.
26. Material evidence that did not support its preferred conclusion was simply not addressed by the SIB and in a number of instances is neither documented in the List of Witnesses in Appendix A or the List of Exhibits in Appendix B. For instance, the statements of Mr. Nanfuri and Major Agbenoto are not mentioned in the SIB report nor listed in any of its Appendices. The disregard of this evidence is a further indication of the Board’s prejudice against me. The omission of these statements from the SIB Report’s List of Exhibits is, to say the least, also highly irregular.
27. One of the crucial issues mentioned in the SIB report is the question of my alleged relationship with Lance Corporal Amedeka. As I testified to the SIB and subsequently to the Public Tribunal during the Murder Trial, I did not know Amedeka prior to the SIB proceedings. Major Agbenoto in his statement to the SIB says that Amedeka had said to him during their investigations that he was not sure I knew him and that we had never spoken. Major Agbenoto and Mr. Nanfuri’s statements refer to the detention of Amedeka for involvement in a coup plot and to their role in those investigations. I have also explained how the earlier investigations that I had initiated into the disappearance of Mr. Kwao and others in the Volta Region had brought up the name of Amedeka among others. I have indicated that Amedeka was arrested on my orders because of information linking him to a coup plot that was to be carried out during the absence of the Chairman of the PNDC in early August 1982. If the SIB was acting in good faith it would have asked why I would be investigating Amedeka over Volta Region disappearances in April 1982 including that of Mr. Kwao a relative of mine, and then procure Amedeka to murder the Judges and the retired army officer on June 30th and order his arrest in August for involvement in a coup plot.
28. You will recall that after the SIB had presented its Final Report to the Attorney General, Mr. G.E.K. Aikins set up an internal committee in his Ministry chaired by himself and including Mr. J.O. Amui, Member/Secretary to the SIB to review the SIB Final Report. On the basis of this review, the Attorney General disagreed with the SIB’s conclusions in respect of myself and some others. The Attorney-General concluded that the evidence of Amartey Kwei against me was unreliable and that there was no basis to prosecute me. Despite these findings by the Attorney-General and the subsequent proceedings of the Public Tribunal, a number of persons have for political reasons continued to repeat these allegations as if they were true. A few have gone even further to fabricate new stories seeking to implicate me in the murders.
29. In the years following the SIB’s proceedings and the trial and conviction of Amartey Kwei and the others, some persons have come forward to provide me with additional information on matters relevant to these events.
30. Among those who have come forward in this way are Mr.Mortey-Akpadzi a lawyer who worked at the Office of the Public Tribunal and Mr. Kwasi Fosu, a former District Secretary. They have told me that one of Amartey Kwei’s former GIHOC colleagues with whom Mr. Mortey-Akpadzi worked at the Office of the Public Tribunal admitted that he had shown Amartey Kwei the homes of the victims. I am aware that both Messrs Mortey-Akpadzi and Fosu have submitted statements to this Commission to that effect. The fact of someone else having shown Amartey Kwei the victims' homes exposes the falsity of one of the key elements of Amartey Kwei’s allegations against me.
31. Following the execution of Amartey Kwei, I became aware that on two occasions shortly before his execution on 18th August 1983, Amartey Kwei admitted that his allegations against me were false and retracted them. The first of these retractions I am informed took place in the prison chapel at Usher Fort Prison in the presence of the late Father Vincent Damuah former member of the PNDC, the Superintendent of Usher Fort Prison also now deceased, and Naval Capt. Asassie-Gyimah. I am told that Amartey Kwei specifically asked Father Damuah and Capt Asassie-Gyimah to ask me to forgive him for having falsely implicated me in the murders. I was informed of this shortly after the event by both Father Damuah and Naval Capt. Asassie-Gyimah. The second of Amartey Kwei’s retractions was made on the same day to the Chairman of the PNDC Flt. Lt. Rawlings at the execution ground shortly before his execution and was recorded on tape by Flt Lt. Rawlings. You may recall that the contents of this tape were reported on the front page of the Daily Graphic of 22nd August 1983.
32. I would also like to address briefly more recent statements made by Chris Asher before this Commission. In his attempt to impute to me a motive for murder, Mr. Asher has told this Commission that I had a grudge against Justice Agyepong because Justice Agyepong had sat on a case I had brought against Military Intelligence. I would like this Commission to know that the Judge who sat on my case against Military Intelligence (Tsikata v Odjidja, Suit Number 1210/80) and gave judgment in that case on 4th August 1981 was Justice Roger Korsah who I believe is currently in Zimbabwe. This is a matter of public record.
33. Chris Asher has also alleged that participants in the murders i.e. Amedeka, Dzandu and Senya told him that I was involved in the murder conspiracy. Mr. Asher claims that he has in his possession a statement written by Amedeka containing such allegations. The Commission should note that he has, so far, failed to produce any such statement despite his repeated claims to have such a statement. I would like to point out to the Commission that all of the persons who Chris Asher claims as the sources of his story to this Commission made statements before the SIB and the Public Tribunal that are radically different from the accounts now being given by Chris Asher. What reason is there to prefer Chris Asher’s recent dramatic and self-serving claims as to what these persons told him rather than the direct testimony of the individuals concerned?
34. Adabuga has claimed that I was in the office of the Chairman of the PNDC in the company of a number of other persons when Amartey Kwei told the Chairman of the PNDC that he had finished the assignment of killing the Judges and the retired army officer. That statement is false. I categorically deny that I was present at any time at any place where such a declaration was made by Amartey Kwei. The Commission will note the inconsistencies between Adabuga and Chris Asher’s version of this particular alleged event.
35. I will for the time being say no more about the testimonies of Asher and Adabuga until I have had the opportunity to cross-examine them.
36. I would like to conclude my testimony regarding the murder of the judges and the retired army officer by saying that I have lived for more than twenty years with the pain of being falsely accused by the SIB of being the mastermind of the hideous crimes committed by Amartey Kwei and the others on the night of 30th June 1982. I ask members of the Commission to try to put themselves in my position: How would you feel if you were falsely accused before the world of such a crime? How would you feel if even after you had been cleared and the allegations retracted, the same allegations continued to be repeated and brought up again and again as if they were true? Is there no end to the propagation of these false accusations? I am requesting that this Commission, in fairness to me, make available those persons whose actions gave credibility and respectability to the false allegations made against me by Amartey Kwei – in particular Mr. Justice Azu Crabbe, Mr. T.O. Lindsay, the Rt. Rev. Prof. N.K. Dzobo, Mr. J.O. Amui, Brigadier J. Nunoo-Mensah and Mr. Johnny Hansen in order that I can look them in the eye and ask them questions about their participation in this elaborate frame-up.
37. I will now proceed to other matters that have been raised before this Commission. I have been mentioned by some persons who have testified before this Commission in relation to matters alleged to have occurred in the periods of the AFRC and PNDC regimes.
38. With regard to the AFRC period Squadron Leader Tagoe has told this Commission that I was one of the persons who advised the AFRC on the executions of the eight military officers shortly after the June 4 uprising. I was not in Ghana at the time of the June 4 uprising. I had been in Angola since April 1979 and returned to Ghana in late July 1979 by which time all of the executions had been carried out. I would like to state categorically that I was not in any way involved in advising or in deciding on the execution of the eight senior military officers and was not at any time contacted to give advice on the matter.
39. A number of allegations have been made before this Commission concerning human rights abuses during the PNDC era. Two of the persons who have testified before this Commission Mr. Alex Adjei and Alhassan Akati have made specific references to me. With regard to Alex Adjei, I have noticed that in his latest statement made to the Commission on 19th November 2003, after he testified before the Commission, he appears to be withdrawing or qualifying his earlier statements. I am requesting that Alex Adjei be made available for questioning in order that we can determine what exactly his allegations are so that I can properly respond. I have read the transcript of Alhassan Akati’s testimony to the Commission and am unable to find an allegation against me of any abuse of his rights. I would also like to hear from him before this Commission if indeed he has any allegation against me.
40. There is, with respect, a widespread perception that the proceedings of this Commission are targeted at particular regimes in respect of which any allegations however unreliable will be acceptable as evidence, and that the Commission on the other hand is less receptive to evidence of abuses by regimes other than the targeted regimes. That perception discourages people who have suffered grave abuses of human rights under regimes other than those targeted from making submissions to the Commission.
41. I believe that this Commission will acknowledge that human rights abuses occurred under colonial rule, and have recurred under all of the regimes that have ruled this country since independence - the CPP, the NLC, the PP, the NRC/SMC, the AFRC, the PNP, the PNDC, the NDC as well as the current NPP regime.
42. I have had occasion in the past to testify about my own experiences of human rights abuses at the hands of agents of the state. One of the principal perpetrators of the torture that I suffered was Mr. Francis Poku who is today a high official in the national security apparatus. Another participant was Mr Abudu who until his recent death was the Head of this National Reconciliation Commission’s Investigation Department.
43. In November 1975 during the SMC regime of General Acheampong, I was arrested at gunpoint at a friend’s house by Captain Appiah-Asante of Military Intelligence. I was stripped naked and detained for six weeks in darkness in a cell at Special Branch Headquarters, measuring about 6ft by 4ft without any windows, with only a blanket to cover myself and to lie on. For the first few weeks of my detention, I was not told the reason for my arrest and was not allowed to see any member of my family despite repeated requests. Subsequently I was told I was being investigated on suspicion of involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. I recall an occasion when I was locked in aroom with the battered,bleeding and unconscious body of Major Quarshie, another detainee, and warned by Lance Corporal Ebo Duncan that if I did not co-operate I would suffer the same fate. I was taken, on a number of occasions clad only in my blanket, before a panel chaired by Mr. Francis Poku, at the time a Deputy Superintendent of Police at the Special Branch. The panel included Major Oppong-Addae of Military Intelligence, and Mr. Abudu and Mr. Anafi of the Special Branch. Once, when I appeared before the Panel, Mr Francis Poku said he had orders from the SMC to beat me to death if I failed to write a confession along the lines he was suggesting and advised me to co-operate, as he did not want anybody’s death on his conscience. When I refused to write such a statement he got angry, insulted me and asked Sergeant Boateng to take me to a special room upstairs. This was the torture room where I was immediately set upon by Sgt Boateng, Cpl Ebo Duncan and Cpl Seidu, and severely brutalised until I became unconscious. When I came round I was lying in a pool of blood in the reception room downstairs. The next morning Mr. Francis Poku visited me in my cell and, pretending to apologise for what had happened the previous day, said that he had no alternative as he was under pressure from the SMC to get a confession from me. A few days later Capt Dr. Duncan was sent to examine me and treat me for my injuries. This pattern of torture followed by visits from Mr Francis Poku and by Capt (Dr.) Duncan was repeated a number of times between December 1975 and January 1976. One day the young women working at the offices of the Interrogation Centre were invited to watch the torture session. I remember that Cpl Seidu was nicknamed “Carpenter” because one of his functions was to hammer nails into the testicles and ram sticks into the anuses of suspects.
44. In January 1976 I was transferred to Usher Fort Prison. There I met a 63 year-old man, Ebenezer Allotey, who recounted similar experiences at the hands of the same torture squad. He collapsed and died a few days later in my presence. The case of Mr Allotey as well as my case and others are documented by the human rights organisation Amnesty International.
45. It is significant that some of the perpetrators of these abuses currently occupy high positions in the country’s security apparatus. No political tradition or grouping, no regime or institution has had a monopoly on the abuse of the rights of fellow citizens in our country’s history.
46. It is critical that the exercise of reconciliation should be comprehensive and not be seen as selective, partisan or discriminatory. Although this Commission is not officially named a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” it is important that the truth of alleged abuses be established, that claims as to what happened are verified and assessed in their context and that deliberately false claims be dismissed and treated with the contempt that they deserve. It should not be the case that anything goes, or that the more dramatic and exaggerated an allegation is the more likely it is to be welcomed as truth provided it is directed against a particular regime or particular individuals.
47. A genuine process of reconciliation demands openness and fairness from all sides. A genuine process of reconciliation cannot be achieved if its boundaries are set within the electoral manifesto of a political party and its electoral calendar. I hope this Commission will create its own space within which it can deliver to the people of Ghana a genuine and an authentic process of national reconciliation.