The Executive Secretary of the National Reconciliation Commission, NRC, Dr. Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, has announced that a tentative date has been set by the commission for the “mother of all confrontations”, over the abduction and murder of the three high court judges, and the retired army officer.
Speaking to the “Daily Guide” newspaper, the Executive Secretary hinted that Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd) will, on Wednesday, 16 June 2004, have the opportunity to cross-examine Lawyer Chris Asher, ex-Cpl Matthew Adabuga and Superintendent William Oduro, all of whom are domiciled abroad.
The three persons had leveled various allegations against the former Chief of National Security under the PNDC, Captain Kojo Tsikata, concerning the plot to abduct and murder the judges and the retired army officer.
The date, he said, is tentative, because all the personalities are living outside Ghana, and is subject to convenience their travel arrangements. “But notice has been served on those persons, while Tsikata had duly complied with all the necessary requirements and formalities required by the NRC,” the executive secretary explained.
Dr Ken Attafuah further revealed that a definite date has been set for Tuesday, 15 June, for Captain Kojo Tsikata to cross-examine Squadron Leader Tagoe, Alex Adjei and Adama Alhassan Akati, concerning their evidence before the commission during which they also made various references to Tsikata. The date for this encounter is more definite because all the respondents are resident in Ghana.
When Chris Asher gave evidence at the NRC on 21 August 2003, he stated, inter alia, that he had statements written in Cpl Samuel Amedeka's handwriting which could help the NRC compile an accurate account of the 30 June 1982 murder of the three high court judges and the retired army officer.
Chris Asher, at the time, pointed out that he had come to the NRC on his own accord, stressing that he is not a member of any political party nor had he been sponsored by any person or party to appear before the NRC, since according to him, no one influences his thoughts.
“As a maverick, I am acting on my own, and have never joined any political party in my life.” It will be recalled that Chris Asher was granted “a limited safe passage” by the NRC, with effect from 18 August to 23 September, to enable him to give evidence to the commission.
The commission wrote to the Attorney-General, the Ministry of the Interior and the Inspector-General of Police, requesting that “every courtesy and protection be accorded Chris Asher while he is in the country, and the security agencies be informed that during his stay, he might not be harassed or otherwise have his personal liberty or freedom of movement interfered with in any way, in the purported execution of any order or judgment made during the PNDC era.” Based on this “ official cover”, Asher appeared on 21 August to give his evidence.
Executive Secretary Attafuah explained that the NRC needed to do that because Chris Asher indicated that he had certain literature in the original handwriting of a number of the convicted murderers of the high court judges and retired army officer, which may be of use to the commission.
Accordingly, a formal request for the extension of the limited safe passage was consequently denied by the NRC when Asher requested for it on 22 September in order to launch his book, and his potential role as legal counsel for his elder brother, Chris Asher Snr, who was due to appear at the Commission.
The security agencies were subsequently informed of the development, while the NRC wrote “ we find no reasonable basis in your letter to grant the request,” for an extension, and advised him to leave Ghana, as previously agreed.
Reacting to criticisms that the commission has entertained hearsay evidence, Dr Ken Attafuah re-assured that the Commission will not rely on hearsay evidence to draw its conclusions or make findings on any petition that comes before it.
“This position is in keeping with internationally-recognized principles or common law rule that hearsay evidence cannot constitute the sole basis for making adverse findings.”
However, he pointed out that the commission offered the platform to Chris Asher to give evidence on the murder of the judges because he gave every indication that he had certain corroborative materials which were in the handwriting of Samuel Amedeka, the convicted murderer, and that when he appears before the commission, in the futures he would produce these documents.
In his evidence before the commission, Chris Asher observed that Cpl Matthew Adabuga was correct when he told the commission that Flt Lt Rawlings and his lieutenants popped champagne to celebrate the judges' murder when the news was broken to them.
Chris Asher, who had been in exile since 17 January 1984, when he made a dramatic escape from the Nsawam Prison had told the commission that Samuel Amedeka, whom he met at Nsawam Prison, had told him that “ Kojo Tsikata also entered the office and he was also told of the success of the operation,” (the murder of the judges ).
At the NRC, Kojo Tsikata denied all the allegations leveled against him by the six afore-mentioned persons, and has readied himself for a confrontation and cross-examination of any or all of them, since then.
Chris Asher told the commission that he has a dossier of information that expressly implicates former President Jerry John Rawlings, Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd ), Sgt Alolga Akatapore and Joachim Amartey Kwei, as the foursome PNDC members, who plotted and aided the execution of the three high court judges and the retired army officer on 30 June 1982.
Sixty-six-year-old Chris Asher, also known as Nana Barimah Awuakye Akantang II, was at the Nsawam Medium Prison in 1982, when the four convicted murderers, Ransford Dzandu, Senya, Amedeka, Joachim Amartey Kwei and Tekpor were imprisoned at the Nsawam Prison in the course of their trial as accused persons.
In another development, the NRC yesterday heard the petition of a senior journalist of the New Times Corporation, Madam Augustina Aforo Yeboah, whose elder brother was executed in the 1980s. The former RECCE soldier, WOII Charles Samuel Lartey Aforo, according to her sister left for Takoradi in October 1985, to take part in the Armed Forces Games as hockey player.
While there, she disclosed that he was told that his mother was unwell, and so was brought down to Accra where he was detained. On November the Aforos received a note hidden in a book which stated that he was being detained at Wajir Barracks, Teshie.
Tina, as she is known by her colleagues, went to visit him in the company of two other family members at the Barracks, where he told them that no reason was given for his detention. When the family returned to visit him after a while, they were told that he had been transferred to another location.
With the assistance of a BNI officer, he was located in a cell elsewhere. Tina indicated that he was found to be limping and had two fingers bandaged and his eyes, bloodshot. His head, she added, was bandaged. On the third visit, they were told that he was no longer there, but on 5 March 1986, there was an announcement that he had been implicated in the matter of Gokah, Kyeremeh Djan and others.
He appeared before the Public Tribunal, and during the break period when they interacted with him, they discovered that he had bouts of blackouts and this attributed to the head injuries he sustained through tortures. He was finally executed alongside others. The Aforos are demanding the de-criminalisation of their brother and son, and eventually accorded a decent burial.
Their mother she hinted died early this year, unable to witness the burial of her son. Bishop Palmer-Buckle stated at the end of it all that Ghana mourns with her on the sad event, and that it is in order for the family to demand the remains of its son.