Bombardier Cudjoe lays it bare Lens -- A witness who had testified before the National Reconciliation Commission has expressed his total disappointment at the findings contained in the aspects of the NRC's report that have been published in the media, especially concerning the murder of the three high court judges and a retired army officer. He has also finally thrown the light of truth on the murder of some fetish priests in the Volta Region at the time.
Speaking in an interview with The Lens, Bombardier Mathias Cudjoe explained that, as a very close associate of some of the individuals who committed these atrocious crimes, he found it necessary to go to the National Reconciliation Commission so as to make available to the Commission all that he knows about these events, with a view to helping the Commission get to the bottom of these matters as well as to establish an accurate historical record as the Commission had been mandated to do.
However, he noted, the findings of the NRC as published by the newspapers fly in the face of the evidence made available to the Commission. He said, "I am appalled by what I've been reading in the newspapers, which are claimed to be findings of the NRC."
"Let me say, first of all, that I don't know for a fact if these publications that I have been reading in the newspapers are truly the findings of the NRC. However, since no member or official of the NRC is coming out to debunk these publications, it stands to reason to conclude that the publications are, indeed, excerpts of the NRC report," Bombardier Cudjoe said, as the interview began.
"I am not naïve to think that I was the only person who knows all about these events, nor am I supposing that I was the only person who gave evidence to the NRC concerning these events, far from it. What I am saying is that in view of the evidence I submitted to the NRC which to my knowledge has not been challenged by anyone, I find it bizarre that the NRC has disregarded my evidence and came to conclusions based on evidence that were essentially third-hand or fourth-hand hear say," Bombardier Cudjoe continued.
He said, "Perhaps the conclusions of the NRC on these matters should not have come to me as a surprise at all. The writings had been on the wall all along, but I chose to ignore the warning signals in the hope that the eminent citizens on the commission would not allow sectional considerations or their personal prejudices to influence them in their evaluation of the evidence they were gathering."
"When I first approached the Commission, on my own volition, and said that I had information on the murder of the judges, I was accorded, what one will describe as a hero's welcome. One lady lawyer of the Commission, I am not too sure of her name but I believe she is called Mrs. Manful, was very helpful. She even promised that the Commission would reimburse me for the expenses that I incurred in travelling from my village in Sovie, in the Volta Region, to Accra to testify before the Commission.
"I submitted a twenty-four page hand written statement to the Commission, and on the day I submitted the statement this lady lawyer was all charm and convivial in her dealings with me. That was the day she promised that the commission would pick the tab for my expenses."
"However the next time I went to the Commission, the lady's attitude towards me changed completely. Obviously she had read my statement and not finding the things she expected or wanted to find, she became very aggressive, insinuating that I had come to the Commission to exonerate people like President Rawlings and Captain Tsikata."
"From that point on my relationship with the officials of the Commission that I came into contact with became very frosty, as they obviously were suspicious of my motives for coming forward to testify to the Commission. Initially I wasn't bothered by their suspicions, however one particular incident at the Commission got me thinking. Sometime after I had submitted my statement, the lady lawyer mentioned the names of some people and asked me if I knew them. When I replied that I did not know them, she retorted, 'as for you, you don't know anybody'. This got me thinking and I wondered whether she wanted me to tell a lie that I knew those persons or not."
"In my statement to the Commission I made it clear that as an active participant in the 31st December revolution, I knew Amartey Kwei, Amedeka, and the boys who killed the judges and the retired army officer. I also made it clear that Amedeka had told me that they were instructed to kill these persons by Amartey Kwei. I have no doubt whatsoever that if the instructions had come from the then Chairman Rawlings, Amedeka would have told me, because we were very close pals. In fact, when the murders became public, Amedeka became apprehensive that Amartey Kwei had misled him. Whatever else he may be, Amedeka was not one to lie to cover anybody. Amedeka had always been a person of convictions."
"I now believe that the NRC had formed its conclusion on this matter even before they started hearing testimonies of witnesses, and all that they were doing was looking for bits and pieces of information to justify the conclusion. Otherwise how could they ignore my uncontested evidence?" Bombardier Cudjoe asked.
He continued, "On the day I testified on the floor of the Commission, they advised me to see a counselor of the Commission for counseling. After a brief, and rather unproductive, interaction with the Counselor, who refused to give me his name beyond saying he is called Sheikh, I was leaving Sheikh's office when I saw the Commissioners walking towards me, having taken a lunch break. I walked towards Bishop Palmer Buckle with my arm outstretched, signalling that I wanted a handshake with the Bishop. Surprisingly, Bishop Palmer Buckle just brushed passed me, totally ignoring my outstretched hand.
"At that point it became clearer to me that the whole reconciliation bit was a grand charade being played to justify certain preconceived conclusions. Yet I refused to give up hope, after all Bishop Palmer Buckle was only one of nine Commissioners, I rationalized. Now, my worst fears have come true."
"For the NRC to arrive at the conclusion that the chairman of the PNDC knew of the abduction and murder of four eminent citizens, three high court judges and a retired military officer, only shows clearly that they did not take into consideration the evidence of persons like myself, apparently because those evidence do not support their preconceived conclusions."
"When I went before the NRC, I made it clear to the Commission that I was part of the personnel who went to the Volta region to arrest Yeye Boy, Akpey Kwao, and Torgbui Adeladza. I also made it clear that at no point were we ordered to kill these persons."
"Today people ask why Amedeka was not arrested for those murders, and I believe it is a legitimate question. You see, one has to understand the circumstances in those chaotic days, when there was total breakdown, and the leadership of the revolution was trying very hard to restore stability. At that time, those soldiers who formed the nucleus that initiated the revolution were very powerful, as they had their support bases among the soldiers, and any premature move against any of them would have been disastrous. That was why people like Adabuga, Amedeka, and co were able to do the nasty things they did. But once the leadership had full control of the system, they were appropriately dealt with."
"People should not forget how even in a constitutional order, an infant Kufuor regime was unable to deal with the Police/Military patrol team that shot and killed a member of the watchdog committee at Taifa. I am not justifying what happened, not at all. I have offered public apologies for what we did, I am still contrite about those things. All I am saying is that people should not forget the objective conditions of those times."