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15.11.2004 General News

The Fake Coup Scare...

By Palaver
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(i) COUP PLOT! --Security Agencies interrogate suspects (Daily Graphic)

(ii) COUP PLOT FOILED! --7 suspects detained (Ghanaian Times)

(iii) Long Period Of Monitoring Pays Off As--COUP PLOTTERS ARRESTED--Big Fishes To Be Interrogated (Ghanaian Voice)

(iv) COUP PLOTTERS ARRESTED--Big Names Involved (Daily Guide)

(v) Breaking News--COUP ATTEMPT FOILED--Security agencies rounds-up (sic) key suspects--Ex-Commandos on the run (Vanguard)

(vi) COUP SCARE--seven arrested and quizzed (Chronicle)

These were the scary headlines from the Ghanaian papers of Monday, November 8, 2004.

Then there was the international dimension. BBC carried it. So did VOA. And the Voice of Nigeria. And virtually all the international networks.

The BBC went so far as to announce that "the alleged coup plotters plans involved acts of "destabilisation and sabotage" in the run-up to December's presidential poll. The report alarmingly continued:

"Ghana's security agencies were said to have been monitoring the threat.

Ghana has suffered a number of coups since independence in 1957, but in recent times has been stable.

Accra calm

Officials gave no names or other details of those arrested.

Ghana's capital Accra was reported to be calm, with no military presence.

President Kufuor is expected to win a second mandate in the 7th December election.

The ballot will be the fourth multi-party polls held in the country since it embarked on its present democratic path.

Mr. Kufuor took office four years ago, after former President Jerry Rawlings stood down after a second term in office.

Mr. Rawlings had seized power in a coup in 1979 coup when he was a 32-year-old air force pilot".

So there we are, from a terse announcement of a coup plot to Kufuor winning the December elections, to Rawlings having staged a coup in 1979. There is no connection between those strands of information, but it has put together in such a way as to leave no one in any doubt that Rawlings is not happy with the fact that Kufuor will be winning the elections and is therefore instigating a coup.

That is the stuff that intelligence agencies are made of.

Back home, international telephone lines to and from Ghana went berserk as friends, relatives and anxious Ghanaians watchers burnt the lines to check out how many people had been killed and whether Jerry had been assassinated and whether their friends were alive and well and what had happened to their relatives.

And then came Monday, and with it the anti-climax! One arrested ex-soldier was taken to court. And there were no coup charges! Instead, he was remanded in custody for "possessing firearms without authority" and "engaging in unauthorised buying of military accoutrements".

And what was the evidence?

One Makrov Pistol one 9-millimetre firearm, one military helmet, one set of military body pack, two military caps, two raincoats, one water bottle, and three waist belts - coup making accoutrements indeed!

So what happened to the coup plot?

What happened to the heavy arms and weaponry reportedly discovered when the coup plotters were rounded up?

What happened to the big names that were involved?

What happened to the big fishes that were to be interrogated?

And what has happened to the ex-commandos who are on the run?

Monday, November 8, 2004, was indeed another day of shame and disgrace for Ghana's intelligence and security capos, for even if they had to enact a "psy-ops" scenario to create some diversion for their NPP political paymasters for the bashing that they were receiving, they could have done it a little more professionally.

Did they not see how George W. Bush Jnr did it with the Osama bin Laden tape in the USA?

It is a disgrace that our once highly esteemed intelligence and security network should stick to the same old modus operandi over and over again such that like the little boy in the fable who cried wolf, nobody minds them again when they cry wolf.

Until the day the real wolf will come.

They cried wolf through the 'Vanguard' newspaper, their paper, when they "invented" a certain Mallam Moro who had allegedly been hired by the NDC and housed in Haatso to perform rituals for a coup to be staged by Jerry John Rawlings.

Nothing came out of that cry.

They cried wolf through the same 'Vanguard' when they alleged that Jerry John Rawlings had travelled to Congo Brazzaville in a French military aircraft to procure weapons to stage a coup d'etat.

Nothing came out of that cry.

They cried wolf when they invited Jerry John Rawlings and interrogated him for a cumulative period of some six hours for suspected subversive activities when all he had done was to tell Ashanti Region NDC women to exhibit a spirit of 'positive defiance'.

Nothing came out of that cry.

They cried wolf when they arrested Colonel Gbevlo-Lartey, ex-Commanding Officer of the 64 Infantry Unit allegedly in connection with a coup plot, retired him from the military, and organised a near-fatal shooting of his brother in a clear case of mistaken identity when it was obvious it was he they intended to kill.

Nothing came out of that cry.

They cried wolf when they invaded the residence of the same Colonel Gbevlo-Lartey and arrested and charged his household with throwing stones on to the roof of the Electoral Commission building.

Nothing came out of that cry.

They cried wolf when they planted a "bogus and fraudulent" story in the Liberian "Analyst" newspaper about Ghanaian opposition parties' alleged recruitment of Liberian mercenaries for a planned mercenary invasion of Ghana.

Nothing came out of that cry.

As the NDC put it in its Press Statement on the latest arrests, this latest coup scare which is an obvious hoax has unnecessarily heightened tensions in the country and has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the integrity and reputation of the country".

And why the NPP's obsession with coup scares and creating tension all the time?

We at 'Ghana Palaver' think that we have the answer. They are to create diversions from the problems of the NPP. And problems they have aplenty.

Let us take a look at just the latest coup scare.

During the week, the 'Ghana Palaver' and the 'Chronicle' had come out with riveting exposes about a massive pre-mix fuel scandal in which three NPP Ministers were reported to have embezzled billions of cedis and the Office of the Vice President had been implicated. The Ministerial Committee on Pre-Mix Fuel had had to be reportedly hurriedly dissolved and the President was looking for a way to put the scandal behind him in this election year.

The NPP needed a diversion.

During the week, the NDC had called a Press Conference at which Communications Director John Mahama had read a devastating expose of the NPP's campaign propaganda blueprint that they call "So Far, So Very Good". The NDC had titled its response "So Far, So Many Lies" and had torn to shreds all the so-called achievements in the book, exposing them as either blatant lies or stolen programmes and projects or manifesting editorial sloppiness. The NPP needed a diversion. During the week, the NDC Research Director Kwamena Ahwoi had dropped a bombshell by disclosing that President Kufuor had willingly accepted to work with the coup d'etat PNDC Government of Jerry John Rawlings in 1982 whilst Professor Atta-Mills had on principle refused an invitation to serve in the same Government because of his objection to coup d'etats, and had argued that as between the two Presidential candidates, President Kufuor was better placed to answer questions about human rights abuses of the PNDC era. That expose, was hurting, and Kufuor could not debunk it.

The NPP needed a diversion.

At the end of the week, specifically on Saturday, the NDC was to hold a rally, which actually turned out to be a super-monster rally at the same Mantse Agbona Park in James Town where the NPP had held its National Campaign Launch two weeks earlier. There was the need to create a scare in Accra so that people would be too scared to turn up for the rally.

The NPP needed a diversion.

In all these cases, what better diversion than a fabricated coup scare, appropriately garnished with the arrest of former 64 Infantry Unit "boys" to raise the spectre of a Jerry John Rawlings engineered coup d'etat, as the BBC report did so expertly?

And so Nicholas Owuobah, Seth Baddoo and Afotey Otoo alias "Everlasting" became the "canned goods" for the coup scare of Saturday morning, which was later in the day warmed up and served as a planned coup d'etat meal for dinner on that day for the Ghanaian people. On the following Monday, Flt-Lt. Tackie, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Chairman, was invited for questioning at the CID headquarterts.

Mr Victor Smith, Special Assistant to the former President was also to be invited for questioning.

"Canned Goods" was the code-name used for Hitler's Nazi Germany's excuse for the invasion of Poland that marked the beginning of the Second World War. 18 or so German prisoners in German jail were released and dressed in German military uniform, taken to the German-Polish border, shot dead by German military officers, and their bodies left on the border. On the "discovery" of the bodies, Hitler announced in a radio broadcast that Poland had attacked German territory and killed 18 German soldiers, offering the 'canned goods" as the evidence. He therefore ordered German troops into Poland in a retaliatory attack. The German prisoners who were used to trigger off the operation were referred to as "canned goods".

What else explains the anti-climax involved in only one person out of seven conspirators arrested for planning to stage a coup being charged with "possessing firearm without authority", and another being granted self-recognisance bail?

And so it came to pass that the coup plot, exposed after a long period of monitoring that paid off, with some ex-commandos on the run, and involving some big fishes who were to be interrogated, turned out to be "much ado about nothing", just one measly retired soldier, armed with one measly Makrov Pistol and 12 rounds of ammunition and accoutred with one military helmet, one set of military body pack, two military caps, two raincoats, one water bottle and three waist belts setting out to overthrow President Kufuor's NPP Government of Ghana.

Oh, What an anti-climax!!

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