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15.04.2006 General News

JJ used presidential immunity to deal with enemies

By Daily Dispatch
JJ used presidential immunity to deal with enemies

Portions of a 302 page book entitled “SAM JONAH AND THE REMAKING OF ASHANTI” accuses former president Rawlings of using his immunity to begrudge prominent businessmen for their success

“After such a long period of continuous power it is likely that Rawlings experienced pangs of insecurity. Rawlings' treatment of other prominent businessmen seems to indicate that he begrudged their growing success…

There are growing reports that the Rawlingses vengeful conduct that made the beating of Vice –President Arkaah in a cabinet meeting in 1995 appear very much in keeping with a pattern of behaviour.

Some would say that simmering violence from the revolution days had never dissipated.

Others allege that the end- game scenario created by the constitutional limit of two terms in office only encouraged Rawlings to take advantage of Presidential immunity enshrined in the same constitution to deal with his enemies once and for all.”

The above are excerpts from the 302 page book 'SAM JONAH and the REMAKING OF ASHANTI' by Mrs A Afrifa –Taylor.

Part of her author's note had indicated “ex President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu had declined to put their views across “to her.

Pages 165-166 recounts an example of how the ex president dealt with his enemies.

“On Saturday, April 10 1999: Sam called up a few friends to travel to Obuasi as they did from time to time to watch Goldfields Club play the following day.

He found one of his friends, Aljahi Yusif Ibrahim, a business man from the Northern Region in a panic. Alhaji would not be going to the match.

He had just been tipped off by a Castle source that his new hotel was about to be knocked down on Rawlings' orders.

The 67-room hotel strategically located near the International Airport had cost $6 million to build and fit.

Accra was hosting an African-American Summit the following week and representatives from the Ghana Investment Centre have pushed Alhaji to have his rooms ready on time for this.

The Vice President's wife, the minister for Tourism, and the chairman of the Accra City Council had all visited and inspected approvingly in the weeks before.

A South African Hotel Manager was due to arrive on the Monday morning.

It seemed inconceivable that Rawlings would demolish the hotel. To comfort his friend Sam suggested that he talk to people who were close to the President, such as Brigadier Wallace Gbedemah and Warrant Officer Tetteh.

Alhaji did the rounds seeking confirmation of the rumour but no body seems to know anything which he found reassuring.

Jonah returned to Accra on Sunday evening. He went for his usual 5.00 am walk on Monday morning. Not long after he had returned Nana Prah (Jonah's brother Nat) arrived at the house pale face despite his black skin.

“Alhaji's hotel, he stuttered in shock, struggling to speak. The whole area has been sealed off. Soldiers with machine guns have surrounded the place. Bulldozers are razing it to the ground. There is dust everywhere.”

The commanding officer of the operation had been instructed that nothing was to be salvaged: brand new television sets, beds, refrigerators, kitchen equipment and furniture were all destroyed.

He did not even allow the air conditioners delivered on the Saturday and still in their boxes to be removed.

President Rawlings had ordered the demolition and he allegedly hovered overhead in a helicopter as the destruction started.

In no time a thick throng gathered, gazing in disbelief. The President then drove to the site and congratulated the soldiers on a job well done.

The South African hotel manager arrived with his family as scheduled only to witness their new life, work and home crumbled into dust.

Different reasons for the drastic action which had been taken without legal notice were bandied around. Some said that the hotel lay in the airport flight path and others said the land belonged to the military.

The official reason supplied by the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) was that the hotel was too near a waterway.

The irony of this was that several houses, just yards from the hotel, stood on either side of the small stream which flowed through the grounds of another neighbouring hotel, the Shangri-La.

If proximity to a waterway was such a danger then all of these buildings should have been destroyed.

Furthermore, the same Accra Metropolitan Authority had not only granted planning permission but also advised Alhaji with the project and cooperated throughout its construction.

Objections to the project could have been raised at any time during the lengthy building process.

Alhaji was convinced that the cruel contempt for his private property rights stemmed from Rawlings's envy and his erroneous belief that Jonah was the real owner of, or at least a stakeholder in the hotel, neither of which was true.

At the time of writing a suit for compensation remains in the Ghanaian courts”.