The Foment of Ghana’s Liberations

thefacesofgoldcoastpoliceA Review of Kwame Nkrumah’s problems with the UP traditionalists, “old comrades”, Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and the Political Death of JB Danquah and the CPP


Prof Justice A. K. P. Kludze [1]- (Human Rights, Individual Freedoms and Democracy in Ghana- the Preventive Detention Act and After): “After the ignominious fall of Kwame Nkrumah from power, the notorious Preventive Detention Act, one of the legacies of that repressive era, was repealed. The thousands of prisoners still being held in prisons under that pernicious law were promptly released. There was jubilation throughout the country as those falsely imprisoned were able to return home to join their families. The atmosphere in the whole country was buoyant. It did not matter that some of the returning detainees were sick and infirm as a result of the long years of unlawful incarceration under horrendous conditions. There was hope that Ghana would chart a new course of freedom and justice after the end of Nkrumah’s dictatorship…Those who today, do not revel in the repeal of the Preventive Detention Act, continue to say that it was the American Central Intelligence (C.I.A.) which rescued Ghanaians from dictatorship. If the C.I.A. was powerful enough to do this in far away Africa, one wonders why it could not overthrow the communist regime only 90 miles off the American shores in Cuba…” The counter argument had been that unlike Fidel Castro of Cuba, in the Republic of Ghana, ‘Nkrumah strove to follow the advice of his mentor- George Padmore, who lies buried in Christianborg Castle to pursue a social[construction]revolution without waiting to consolidate the national revolution?’


The leaders of the 1966 military coup, including army officer colonel E.K. Kotoka, Major A.A. Afrifa, Lieutenant-General J.A. Ankrah (Rtd), and Police Inspector-General J.W.K Harley, justified their takeover by alleging that the CPP was abusive and corrupt. They were equally astonished by Nkrumah’s aggressive meddling in Africa politics and by his fatwa that Ghanaian troops could be sent anywhere in Africa to fight so-called liberation wars, even though they never did so. That aside, they lamented over the absence of democratic practices in our country- reasoning that this had affected the morale of the armed forces. According to General Kotoka, the military putsch of 1966 was a nationalist call because it liberated the nation from Nkrumah’s dictatorship- this declaration was supported by Nkrumah’s own former minister of foreign affairs: Alext Quaison Sackey. But today too, overconcentration of power on the presidency, hero-worshipping, ideological proliferation at all-level of society- including economic mismanagement, remains a hallmark of Ghanaian politics, heralding a call for new liberations or change.

In his book- Gold Coast in Transition, anthropologist David E. Apter [2]- who spent a considerable time in the Gold Coast examining the effect of political modernization–both through British rule and the development of self-government–on the traditional ways of life, tribal government, the structures of economic and political power, among others, ploughed extensive fields in relation to the background to this political epoch. The result, as Henry L. Roberts, put it in his book review of 1956, highlights not only the roles and influences of the traditional authorities and the emerging nationalist or the intelligentsias in the post-independence democratic Ghana but also, a comprehensive analysis of a process and the outcome of which was at the time not clearly discernible. Not forgetting the teeming youthful CPP disciples who saw their political bid being ditched by the life-leadership of the Osagyefo?

By virtue of Article 8(1) of the 1960 Constitution, President Kwame Nkrumah was named as the first president of the republic. He had no vice-president- neither from within his own Convention People’s Party (CPP) nor outside of it. History had it that his political or ideological counter-weight was one JB Danquah of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) or the amalgamation of opposing political force to be named United Party (UP) and perhaps, once, one of the Nkrumah’s political employers. No wonder JB Danquah became what historians could describe as the shadow of political and ideological threat or should we say, the prime suspect of all the political upheavals and periodic assassination attempts directed at Nkrumah’s person. Most notable- being the Kululungu bomb attack which led to the arrest and detention of some of the CPP inner-cells such as Ebenezer Ako-Adjei and Tawia Adamafio.

drkwamenkrumahUssealThe President was returning from the then Upper Volta, now known as Burkina Faso, after peace talks and to negotiate among others, for the construction of the Volta Dam, with the then Upper Volta President- Maurice Yameogo. He decided to make a stop-over at Kulungugu, to acknowledge the chiefs, school children and people of this village, who had line-up in waiting for hours under scorching sun to meet him. During this reception, a bomb that had been shrouded in a bouquet of flower was given to a young school pupil, to be presented to the Osagyefo on behalf of the people, exploded, injuring the schoolgirl. This ignited emergency security measures that were to be unpopular with many Ghanaians.

In his article “The Price of Progress”, George W. Shepherd, Jr. [3], offers some insight about the 11 August1962 attack, stating it is not a simple matter to untangle the complex web of conflicts in Ghana and to point to the precise sources of the violence as not all the evidence has been presented. Yet, he describes Nkrumah’s goals and indicates the major sources of opposition to them: “A few days after the Osagyefo (President Nkrumah) had been hailed as a “liberator” by the 11th Congress of the Convention People’s Party (CP) with women strewing garments in the street and singing “Lead Kindly Light,” a bomb explosion at Kulungungu nearly took his life. Following a such second bomb attack in Accra, martial law was declared and the army began a house-to-house search for the terrorist. Several people were arrested, including a member of high officials: Coffie Crabbe- executive Secretary of the CPP; Ako Adjei- Foreign Minister; and Tawia Adamafio- Minister of Information. These disturbing events have led to considerable speculation that the power structure of Nkrumah was crumbling. Is this the case?”

Indeed since history is said be written from ideological or class perspective, the Trinidadian C.L.R James’ [4] book on Nkrumah’s Revolution, might be a recommended read, at least for those who seek better historical insight from a man who had been so close to Dr Nkrumah right from his heydays as independence nationalist agitator and later, as a Pan-African crusader and messiah. So for example, from journalistic and legal interests, we dare register however, that since governments and even regimes around the world take credits for all good omen that are bestowed on their countries/nations even where they had neither played little nor a role in such heights/achievements, it could be inferred from the perspective of the said unverified JB Danquah’s Nsawam Prisons Cell’s Letters that Nkrumah could vicariously, hardly escape personal and indeed the presidential responsibility for JB Danquah’s death.

James has this comment about the Osagyefo and his Ghana’s Revolution: “In 1963 I had occasion to write to him of my concern at a second attempt to assassinate him: I implied that something was seriously wrong with a regime in which there were two attempts at assassinating the political head of state: I knew that in 1957 over large part of Ghana Nkrumah could have walked for days without single attendant. His reply to this letter I found most lacking in his customary political sense…. I was deeply disturbed about the way things were going….The continuous crisis in Ghana had reached a climax when Nkrumah dismissed his Chief Justice for giving a judicial decision which he disapproved… this act showed the degeneration not only of the [CPP] regime but of his own conception of government…”[ibid]

With its sustained electoral fortunes and roll-overs, spanning from the beginning of the 1950s to the first-quarter in the 1960s, the CPP and Nkrumah had the mandate and the power to revoke a Supreme Court decision, dismissed its panel of judges [Justices W.B. Van Lare, Edward Akuffo Addo and Chief Justice K. Arku-Korsah] and called for a retrial and conviction of some of the said suspected Kulungugu mastermind bombers- when the court set the three- Tawia Adamafio, Ako Adjei and Coffie Crabbe, free and convicted an opposition Member of Parliament- R.B Otchere, and Yaw Manu, an opposition activist, who had pleaded guilty for their various roles in the Kulungugu bomb attack. Thus, when on 9 December 1963 the justices handed its verdict which appeared unfavourable to the President, he swiftly invoked his special power granted under the 1960 Constitution and by 10th December 1963, Nkrumah had revoked the ruling “null and void”, and on 25 December 1963, dispatching Chief Justice Arku Korsah and the other two judges who together with the Chief Justice presided over the Special Court.[5]

The newly constituted “Special Court” was branded with a new Chief Justice of Ghana- one Mr. Justice J. Sarkodee-Adoo as the sole member, sitting with, as Dr Ako-Adjei remembers- a jury of twelve young-men, recruited from the Kwame Nkrumah ideological College. The second trial was conducted partly in public in the Supreme Court Buildings in Accra and partly in camera at the Castle Osu, Accra. The public and the Press were excluded from the trial in camera. “During his summing up the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Sakordee-Adoo wept bitterly and openly,” Dr Ako Adjei recorded in his autobiography. “The African Dream that he was amazed to see the Chief Justice weeping bitterly “with tears streaming down his cheeks.” It must be noted that on Monday 9th December, 1963, the Court, that sat from Friday 9th August 1963 through to Monday, 28th October 1963, acquitted the old comrades on all charges. [5]

Notwithstanding, they were not released from prison, but rather, together with two other convicts- and here, Robert Benjamin Otchere and Joseph Yaw Manu, taken back to the condemned cells at Nsawam Medium Security Prison on the orders of President Kwame Nkrumah. The convicts had earlier on been served with indictment or charges of the following:1) Conspiracy to commit Treason and 2) Treason. [5] Article 4(1) of the 1960 Constitution proclaims Ghana as a socialist unitary state- from monarchy to a republic and Article 8(2) confers Executive powers on the President and the position of Governor-General abolished and replaced with the President who combined the post of Governor-General and the Prime Minister post. The special powers under Art 8(3) of the Constitution, bestowed the commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and a “Fount of Hournour” on the President. Art 8(4) states in exercise of his functions she or he was to act in his discretion and not bound to take anybody’s advice.

So for example, it appeared at the time that there existed little room to bring to a halt some of the said misguided and misinterpretations of some of the constitutional powers and the excesses of the PDA. Indeed there could be sure, other arguments to the contrary raised above. But in our contemporary Ghana, just ponder over these in passing: what if for example, ailing Tsatsu Tsikata of Presidential Petition fame or Honourbale Adamu Dramani- former Member of Parliament for Bawku Central had without presidential interventions of J.A. Kufuor and JD Mahama, perished in their various prison cells? Without motivation in the discussion of the relevant provisions in the PDA and the Re Akoto and The Supreme Court Revisited[6], we mention in passing the legal interpretation of Article 13(1) of the 1960 Constitution and here, in relation to its consistency with the PDA (1958 (No. 17 of 1958) under which the Seniour Linguist of the Asantehene- Baffour Osei Akoto, and Seven Others; and later, JB Danquah himself, who had on the 28th day of August 1961, been the lead counsel for said detained defendants.

The grounds for the detention of Baffour Osei Akoto, and Seven Others- namely: Peter Alex Danso (alias Kwaku Danso), Osei Assibey Mensah, Nana Antwi Bosiako (alias John Mensah), Joseph Kojo Antwi-Kusi (alias Anane Antwi-Kusi), Benjamin Kweku Owusu, Andrew Kojo Edusei, and Halidu Kramo, were summarily detained without trial on an offence “prejudicial to the security of the State”. That they encouraged the commission of acts of violence in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo and associated themselves with persons who have adopted a policy of violence as a means of achieving political aims in those regions. From the tone of JB’s letter, no formal charge was brought against him.

Professor Justice Klutze quotes His Grace Peter Akwasi Sarpong- Archbishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi, to have said this in one of his public lectures- “Truth, Integrity and Democratic Development: How Ghana is Faring.” “Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP) came and demanded ‘self-government now.’ When he got it, he introduced very many worthy projects and in fact, he was ideologically so resourceful that most of the projects Ghana is now pursuing were all on his drawing board…..“But in the course of his great work for Ghana, he just disregarded the main reason why he was Head of State in the first place. He was Head of State to bring a measure of peace, love, abundance and security to Ghana. While he sought abundance, he forgot about human rights, the dignity of the human person; he forgot about the security of the Ghanaian; he became a tyrant…. The security that he was supposed to give to his people became a charade. He had no idea of integrity. People were oppressed; people were imprisoned because they did not follow him blindly…” [1]

But Nkrumah said in his October speech, following the Kululungu bomb attack ‘that his difficulties with old comrades arose because of “a certain individuals who, having satisfied themselves with the personal gains they derived from the first revolution [thus, independence or redemption from colonialism], found it difficult and were unwilling to move forward with the second revolution of economic and social construction.” Thus in his view, his problems with the tribal groups and the United Party (UP) are primarily attributable to their resentment over the transfer of power to the CPP, while his more recent troubles stem from the non-revolutionary interests in the both the country and the CPP. These dissidents have aligned themselves with foreign interests that find themselves damaged by the socialist and African liberation drives of Ghana. While this argument sounds plausible, does it account for the violence? [3]

It is found that the President’s troubles with the Ashanti were certainly related to the allocation of power following the national revolution. Some of those with the UP arose from the more conservative outlook of its intelligentsia leaders like Dr K.A. Busia who is said to have had little empathy with the masses and their revolution. “Pressing the pace of change of change in this relentless way inevitably arouses great opposition. While virtually all interests favoured independence, important groups have resisted increased taxation, tight trade controls, nationalization programs, local government reorganization, government control over education and the press, the liquidation of certain farm and trade union groups, and the consolidation of youth movements under the Young Pioneers…” In early 1964, in order to prevent future challenges from the judiciary, Nkrumah obtained a constitutional amendment allowing him to dismiss any judge. Eventually, Ghana became a one-party state with an act of parliament that ensured that there would be only one candidate for president-, who shall officially, come from the CPP. Thus the dreams and aspirations of other political parties were shredded into dustbin and no non-CPP candidates came forward to challenge the vacant slots in the general elections announced for June 1965.


Dr Kwame Nkrumah had been re-elected president of the country for less than a year when the military-cum-police (NLC) booted the CPP out of government on February 24, 1966 while Nkrumah was in China. He later sought asylum in Guinea, where he dwelt until he died in 1972. It might be worthy to note that all successive leaders that came after Nkrumah, had been directly or indirectly, accused of the very political crimes that CPP and its stalwarts of the 1960s were said to have committed. For most ordinary Gold Coasters in the 1940s, the 1946 Burns Constitution made wide ranging reforms. Yet at Saltpond the UGCC- JB Danquah and Paa George Grant among others, attacked the constitution and accordingly, labeled it as “outmoded at birth” because colonial government failed to tackle black pod diseases, the economic hardships during post-1945 war and the discontent of war veterans, not forgetting the 1948 shooting incident that erupted public hues and cries, and the advent of the first-ever liberation?


[1] Prof Justice A. K. P. Kludze, “Human Rights, Individual Freedoms and Democracy in Ghana- the Preventive Detention Act and After”,, date accessed, 09 February 2015
[2] Apter, David E., “The Gold Coast in Transition” (Edward R. O’Connor-The Review of Politics, Cambridge University, Cambridge University Press, (Vol. 19, No. 3 (Jul., 1957), pp. 388-390),, date accessed, 09 February 2015
[3] George W. Shepherd, Jr., “The Price of Progress”, (Africa Today Vol. 9, No. 10 (Dec., 1962), pp. 4-6+14, Published by: Indiana University Press, Article Stable URL:, date accessed, 09 February 2015
Press, (Vol. 19, No. 3 (Jul., 1957), pp. 388-390), date accessed, 09 February 2015
[4] James, C.L.R. (1978), Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution , Lawrence Hill & Co., ISBN-10: 0882080776; ISBN-13: 978-0882080772
[5] Okechukwu Ikejianni, “A letter from Dr. Okechukwu Ikejianni to Ako-Adjei”,, date accessed, 09 February 2015
[6] The Samaritan Research Group, “The Re: Akoto and The Supreme Court Revisited”,



JusticeGhana Editors Note: At COMMENTARY- and at paragraph four(4)we earlier reported that a bomb that had been shrouded in a bouquet of flower was given to a young school pupil, to be presented to the Osagyefo on behalf of the people, exploded, killing the schoolgirl. The “killing should have read: “injuring”. The schoolgirl has been identified as Elizabeth Asantewaa and is still alive. Sorry for any incovenience caused. Thank you.

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Gina is the Director of Health and Publisher, JusticeGhana Group.

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