'They were jumbo size armed robbers whose killing left the world smelling sweeter' - Rawlings
AS PETITIONERS at the National Reconciliation Commission sittings stun the nation with shocking violations of their human rights under the three month old AFRC, GYE NYAME CONCORD has stumbled on a telling interview that provides some answers to one of the key cases the Commission has been handling.
That is the 1979 executions of the eight military officers by the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
According to an interview granted by former President Rawlings, ex-AFRC Chairman at the then AFRC headquarters at Burma Camp, Accra, the senior military officers were shot for corruption, contrary to the current belief that they were executed for committing high treason or for overthrowing constitutional regimes at various times in their lives.
To put it in Rawlings' own words, the executed officers were “jumbo size armed robbers' whose execution left the world smelling sweeter.”
In the interview granted the defunct Nigerian magazine, The New Nation (Vol 2, No 6) of August 1979, the immediate past Ghanaian President and Chairman of the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) junta Jerry John Rawlings, said the former senior public officers were killed for sleaze.
The interview was granted to a Nigerian reporter, whose by-line had with time tapered of the copy of the magazine available to the GYE NYAME CONCORD.
Rawlings, according to the magazine said, said the officers had to be killed because Ghana was faced with their type of thieving breed of criminals who were worst than Nigeria's armed robbers.
“Now I'll tell you what we have here. We have a breed that is perhaps worse than your armed robbers. They are the pen robbers. This species of vermin have for long perpetrated corruption with impunity. They have not only bled the nation white, but as a result of their thievery, Ghana has suffered hunger, loss of national spirit, loss of pride and respect in the military uniform,' said the Chairman Rawlings.
He continued: 'So as you can see, while Nigerians perceive their main social problems to be the proliferation of six Naira armed robbers, we in Ghana think that our problem is that of people who take widow's mite from a bankrupt nation. While you content yourselves at the Bar Beach by watching the execution of maladjusted labourers, mechanics or clerks, we in Ghana have killed the jumbo size armed robbers - call them generals or brigadiers - whose going leave the world smelling sweeter'
Those executed were Mr. (demoted to Mr. from General) Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, General A. A. Afrifa, General F. W. K Akuffo, Gen. R. E. A Kotei, Roger Felli, Air Vice Marshal G. Y. Boakye, E. K. Utuka, J. K Amedume and Col. R. J. A. Felli.
Rawlings said at the time that the officers had dispossessed twelve million Ghanaians of their resources.
He also gave a word of advice to the Nigerian journalist, who arrived in Ghana not only as a reporter but as an unaccredited ambassador to tell Rawlings that Nigerians were 'horrified beyond measure at the way he was disgracing Africa by executing three former heads of state along with five senior government officials.'
To the surprise of the journalist, Rawlings had a response for his worries. 'Brother, it would be wrong to say I do not know the low esteem in which you hold our revolutionary government. To your media owners and top government officials, we are nothing but a blood-thirsty, power drunk junta,' Rawlings told him.
The AFRC leader also betrayed revulsion for the journalist's use of the word 'slaughter' for the execution of the officers. For Rawlings, they were social parasites.
“Slaughter? Oh dear, what slaughters? Yes they were executed. But does the removal of eight social parasites constitute a slaughter?” Rawlings asked.
“It was worse than that. It was a blood bath. What does it profit you if you shed human blood? We Nigerians believe that the killing of 10 heads of State would not add a cedi to Ghana's empty bank accounts,” the journalist shot back.
“A wise remark you made there. I will concede one point to you” Rawlings responded, adding, “There is no doubt that our concept of crime and punishment could be improved upon.
Book your copy of the Gye Nyame Concord for the report itself and others aspects of the mind boggling 1979 interview next Thursday.