It was a pitched dark night on June 30, 1982. As was the norm in the early part of the so- called revolution, a curfew was in place throughout the land. So when the knock on the door became persistent, the household felt it could be a relative needing some assistance. The house-help ventured out.
There was a man in northern smock with others lurking in the dark. “I am looking for madam,” the man said. In her innocence, she replied that the woman of the house was in. She was indeed breast feeding her baby, after leaving her in the care of the house- help the whole day, while she went about her business of presiding over one of the high courts in Accra.
There were smiles on the house-help’s innocent face when she entered the living room and told the nursing mother, breast-feeding her baby that there was someone at the door looking for her. When Mrs. Justice Cecelia Koranteng Addo ventured out, men in smock pushed her into a waiting vehicle.
The abduction process was so fast that by the time her husband, Dr. Koranteng Addo, a lawyer of repute could know what was happening, the wife had been whisked away. The worried husband made desperate attempts to alert the police and later the Chief Justice. But with curfew in place, venturing out was a risky business.
By the time he managed to get the information through, it was common knowledge in town that three high court judges and an army officer had been abducted in the night. Their whereabouts were unknown.
By the next morning, the news and all conversation in town was about the abduction of three judges -Justices Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong, Poku Sarkodie and Mrs. Cecelia Koranteng-Addow and a retired Major in the Ghana Armed Forces, who was the Administrative Manager of the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation(GIHOC), the industrial conglomerate owned by the state.
The Chairman of the military junta, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was forced to broadcast to the nation. In those days, the state broadcaster, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, which radio and television outlets provided the only link between breaking news and the mass of the people.
When the leader of the so-called revolution, in his military fatigue came on radio and television, he announced that three high court judges and an army officer had been abducted by “enemies of the revolution”, and pledged government’s determination to find and rescue them.
Apparently, Lance Corporal Amedeka, Tony Tekpor and Dzandu, all soldiers, had taken their captives to the Bondase military firing range and executed them. The murderers carried along a gallon of petrol with which they set fire to the bodies to destroy all evidence.
By the time the murderers left the firing range with the bodies in flames, they were convinced that their captives would burn beyond recognition and identifying them would not be possible. God, Almighty, has his own ideas though. It was June, the traditional rainy season. But there was drought in the land.
Somehow, it managed to rain that night, within the Bondase location only. The rainfall doused the fire. So when a shepherd tending his sheep chanced upon the bodies and reported the matter, a search team managed to identify all the four victims. An official statement issued by the government said the four bodies had been found in the Accra Plains.
For those of us allergic to Geography, the Accra Plains is the low-lying grassland along the coast, stretching from Saltpond to Aflao. How four bodies could be strewn over all that expanse of land, was what gave the game away.
Following an outcry from all corners of the country, the Provisional National Defence Council set up the Special Investigation Board headed by former Chief Justice Mr. Justice Azu Crabbe to unravel the mystery.
It turned out that all the three judges were sitting on review cases brought by citizens aggrieved by the treatment meted out to them by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council that the military junta formed after June 4 to administer the nation, and was headed by Flt. Lt. Rawlings.
The army officer, Major Sam Acquah, was the head of administration who had signed dismissal letters for some GIHOC workers, including Joachim Amartey Kwei, whose services were terminated for invading Parliament House and destroying property.
The SIB established that the abduction and murder was a plot hatched with the connivance of members of the Provisional National Defence Council. The Board found that the plot was master- minded by Capt. Kojo Tsikata, PNDC Member in charge of National Security.
The PNDC though, rejected that aspect of the report. The culprits were in prison, when on June 19, 1983, there was a jail-break at the Nsawam Medium Prisons and the Ussher Fort Prisons.
L/Cpl Amedeka escaped from captivity and has since not been seen. But his three accomplices, Tony Tekpor, Dzandu and Hekli, as well as ex-PNDC Members Amartey Kwei, were executed by firing squad.
From abduction to execution, there were several twists and turns in the saga. In the first place, all the three accomplices of Amedeka, were residing at the Boy’s Quarters of the Ridge residence of Flt. Lt. Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings. It so happened that the key to the vehicle used in the abduction was kept on the dinning table of the Rawlings’ residence.
The murder squad said that at the time they abducted and murdered the judges, they knew they were carrying out operations on behalf of the governing PNDC.
They indeed confessed to carrying out similar operations, particularly in the Volta Region, where some well known personalities were killed in mysterious circumstances.
One of the notable characters who allegedly fell at the hands of Amedeka’s death squad was Yeye Boy, a prominent traditional spiritualists at Ho, who was killed and his body displayed openly at the Ho Sports Stadium.
One interesting outcome of the saga was a tape said to have been recorded by then Chairman Rawlings himself, just before the guns rained on Amartey Kwei, in which the penitent person allegedly exonerated Kojo Tsikata.
The tape was said to have been handed over to Mr. Kojo Yankah, who edited the Daily Graphic at the time.
For the uninitiated, Kojo Yankah and his revolutionaries at the state newspaper had changed the name of the newspaper to the People’s Daily Graphic, apparently to reflect the revolutionary spirit of the time.
When the contents of the tape were published, the act incurred the wrath of the general public who accused the chairman of the PNDC of being insensitive, by extracting words from a penitent person and getting them published. In the usual comical means of doing things, the government ordered the removal of Kojo Yankah from Graphic, obviously as a result of the embarrassment the publishing of the contents of the tape had generated.
The murder of the judges has become one of the black spots in the political evolution of this country#remember us
This year will mark the 34th anniversary of the 30th June 1982 murders of three High Court judges and one military officer.
June 30th 1982 continues to remain a dark spot in the nation’s political history and a nightmare for all judges in the country, after the three High Court Judges namely, Mr. Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Mrs. Justice Cecilia Koranteng- Addow and Mr. Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong as well as a retired army officer, Major Sam Acquah, were callously murdered under strange circumstances at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains, after being abducted on the night by some unidentified assailants. Their bodies were found on 3 July 1982.
All four had adjudicated on cases in which they had ordered the release of persons who had been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, during the rule of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
Investigations were conducted into the matter, after which some active and retired army officers were prosecuted, but there is still the belief that the real people who gave the order for these judges to be killed have been left of the hook.
A Special Investigative Board chaired by Samuel Azu Crabbe, recommended that 10 persons be prosecuted. Two of them, Joachim Amartey Kwei and Alolga Akata-Pore were members of the PNDC administration.