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Human Rights, Individual Freedoms and Democracy in Ghana- The Preventive Detention Act and After

public lecture

Prof Justice A. K. P. KludzeHuman Rights, Individual Freedoms and Democracy in Ghana- The Preventive Detention Act and After

By Prof Justice A. K. P. Kludze

The path to human rights in Ghana has been a tortuous one. We sought political Independence only to be enslaved by our own elected government, headed by Kwame Nkrumah. The high hopes and aspirations of Ghanaians were steadily eroded by the Nkrumah regime.

In this connection it may be appropriate to recall a summary of the situation under the Nkrumah regime as captured by a prominent and respected clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. In June this year, there was a public lecture by His Grace Peter Akwasi Sarpong, Archbishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi. His topic was “Truth, Integrity and Democratic Development: How Ghana is Faring.” In The Chronicle, part of his lecture was reported as it was in other newspapers. This is partly what His Grace the Archbishop said:

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“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. Anybody who did not believe in his ideas or opposed them was an enemy. 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.

“The amazing thing is that politically Kwame Nkrumah had no reason whatsoever to doubt the fidelity of the majority of the people of Ghana. He had manouvred to a point where he would have won all elections but, no, he wanted 100% support. He could not stand any opposition. The opposition became his enemy. This is not politics; this is lack of integrity; it is a lie.

“The humiliation of the Ghanaian personality under Nkrumah was worse than was being experienced during the colonial times. He became a megalomaniac; he had an army as his security men for whom he built a whole village. What is worse, his stooges began to worship him. Whether he knew of this phenomenon or not is another thing but it would be very, very difficult to believe that he did not know the way people were adulating him. He became a person who did not believe in God and his cronies did not believe in God or pretended they did not. He was leading a life of lies, underlined by total scorn for integrity. He deluded himself into thinking and saying that he was practising democracy, and governments after Nkrumah have done the same.”

We may briefly recall some of the events which prompted such an observation by His Grace.

It started with a series of repressive legislation. The years immediately following Independence saw the progressive, and even dramatic, erosion of personal rights and personal liberty in Ghana. This was traumatic for the citizenry because of legitimate expectations of freedom upon the end of colonialism. The agitation for Independence proceeded upon the declared objective of greater and not less freedom for the people. This philosophy was embodied in the national motto of AFreedom and Justice.@ However, the government of Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah made it clear that he did not believe in personal liberty or in the promotion of civil or political rights. He was committed to socialism based on Acentralism,@ with the interests and rights of the individual subjugated to the public interest which, to him, meant the overriding interest of his governing party and his undisguised self-aggrandizement.

As a result, even the elementary freedoms and rights conceded to the people by the colonial authorities were whittled away and soon emasculated. Basic rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and the right of access to the courts, were regarded as bourgeois luxuries which the citizens of the new nation could ill-afford. These, however, were rights which the people had enjoyed under colonialism and which some citizens, even in those difficult days, were prepared to risk their liberty and their lives to proclaim. Many were to die unsung in prison, without a charge, and without access to the courts, merely for insisting on those rights.

Like other dictators in history, Nkrumah used the law, enacted by him, as the instrument of repression. Therefore, everything done by him and his government was perfectly legal or appeared to be so. Accordingly, even if Ghana had an independent judiciary, which it did not, the actions could not be invalidated, unless the courts were prepared to declare any of the enabling statutes to be unconstitutional.

In pursuit of a grand design, the Nkrumah government, soon after Independence, quickly enacted one repressive legislation after another, to intimidate and muzzle the people. These included the Deportation Act, the Avoidance of Discrimination Act and the Preventive Detention Act, among others. The list is too long.

The first piece of legislation was the Deportation Act, 1957. On the face of it, this was an innocuous law, a type usually found in practically all nations. The Act authorised the deportation from Ghana of any alien whose presence was Anot conducive to the public good,@ whatever that expression means. Section 3(1) of the Act explicitly made the exception that Ano citizen of Ghana shall be liable to deportation under this Act.@ This provision, however, did not prevent the Nkrumah government from deporting even Ghanaians. For instance, in Balogun & 3 others v. Edusei, the defendant Minister issued deportation orders against the applicants, Balogun and three others. All four of them claimed to be citizens of Ghana and, therefore, not liable to deportation by virtue of section 3(1) of the Deportation Act.

When arrangements nevertheless proceeded for their deportation, the four sought an interim injunction against the Minister and the Commissioner of Police, to delay their intended deportation until the decision in their separate suit for a declaratory judgment that they were Ghanaian citizens. With notice of these proceedings, the government nevertheless deported the applicants in violation of the law and in defiance and contempt of the court. The court thereupon held the Minister of the Interior and the Commissioner of Police in contempt. The court, however, adjourned the case, presumably for the contemnors to take counsel. Usually the Minister and the Commissioner of Police could have purged their contempt by expressing regret and apologising to the court. That, in Nkrumah=s view, however, would be infra dignitatem.

There could be no challenge to the power, authority or prestige of the government. The next day, being Christmas Eve, December 24, 1958, Parliament was summoned in an emergency session. Under a Certificate of Urgency, an Indemnity Act was introduced and taken through all stages in Parliament. The Governor-General assented to it and it became law the same day. As the Indemnity Act indemnified the Minister and the Commissioner of Police, there could be no sanction for the contempt. If there were a second House of Parliament, perhaps such hasty, ad hoc legislation would have been a little more difficult to rush through the legislative process.

The sequel to this case is that, after their deportation to Nigeria, the separate action for declaration of citizenship of the deportees was pursued on their behalf by Counsel. The court found that upon the preponderance of the evidence, all the four deportees were citizens of Ghana and thus immune from deportation under section 3(1) of the Deportation Act. Their deportation was, therefore, as a matter of law unlawful. Nevertheless, it was no more than a pyrrhic victory. The deported Ghanaians were never permitted to re-enter Ghana, the land of their birth and of their nationality, in spite of the decision of the court.

In yet another case, Lardan v. Attorney-General (No.2), two deportees also claimed to be citizens of Ghana who could not be deported under the Deportation Act, 1957. They sought a court order to quash their deportation orders after they had been taken into custody preparatory to being taken out of the country. Rather than prove that the two men were aliens, the government rushed through Parliament a special legislation to deport them, the exception in section 3(1) of the Deportation Act notwithstanding. The Deportation (Othman Lardan and Amadu Baba) Act, 1957, authorised their deportation, regardless of citizenship, and declared that Aany proceedings in any court [challenging their deportation] shall be automatically determined.@ These two persons who made a bona fide allegation of citizenship were nevertheless deported from their country of nationality.

There were many such cases, which did not make it to the courts or the law reports. In one well-publicised case, some Ewe citizens, from the Volta Region of Ghana, claimed immunity from deportation because of their Ghanaian citizenship. Without formality they were taken to the Ghana-Togo border and expelled to Togo, because the Ghana Government claimed that they were Togolese citizens. The Ewe as an ethnic group are found in both the south-eastern corner of Ghana and the entire southern section of Togo. The Togo authorities, however, refused to allow the deportees to enter Togo because they claimed to be not Togolese citizens, and because the Ghana government produced no proof that they were Togolese. After a period in a no-man=s land, they were returned to Ghana and incarcerated in the prison at Keta. They languished in that prison until some of them died. The survivors were only freed after the coup d=etat of 1966 which toppled the Nkrumah regime.

The climate created by the spate of deportations produced genuine fears among the populace, as was intended by the Government. Citizens no longer felt secure in their homes or in the land of their birth. Their citizenship notwithstanding, they knew that they could be deported to foreign lands if they did not support the party in power. Following these repressive measures came the law which empowered Kwame Nkrumah to imprison his political opponents and other innocent Ghanaians without trial.

The Preventive Detention Act

The Preventive Detention Act was a pernicious piece of legislation which conferred unfettered power on Kwame Nkrumah, as Prime Minister and later President of Ghana, to order the arrest and imprisonment of any citizen without trial. The power was extensively and arbitrarily invoked by Nkrumah to imprison his political opponents. That was the way Nkrumah was able to muzzle all dissent and suppress opposition to his repressive regime. That eventually culminated in the constitutional imposition of a One-Party State and a One Man rule on the good people of Ghana. As may be deduced from his own words, this was a premeditated and planned programme of political repression by Nkrumah even before Ghana attained Independence.

The language of the Preventive Detention Act is significant. It is one of the products of the evil brain of Mr. Geoffrey Bing, Q.C., an Irishman whom Kwame Nkrumah chose as his Attorney-General at the time. It was provided in section 2(1) of the Preventive Detention Act that:

“The [President] may order the detention of any person who is a citizen of Ghana if satisfied that the order is necessary to prevent that person from acting in a manner prejudicial to

(a) the defence of Ghana;

(b) the relations of Ghana with other countries; or

(c) the security of the State.”

At the time of the passage of this law in 1958, the Governor-General of Ghana was Lord Listowel, who should have signed the Bill into law. Because the Earl did not want his name associated with such infamous legislation, he was by design absent from Ghana when the Bill was to be presented for Royal Assent. This was the pattern that Lord Listowel was to exhibit for the rest of the time that he was Governor-General. As Governor-General he was constitutionally bound to act on the advice of Kwame Nkrumah’s Government. In that situation he could not veto the Bill when approved by the Cabinet of Nkrumah. Rather than create a constitutional crisis by exercising a power of veto, in which Lord Listowel would lose, the astute Englishman was intentionally away in England whenever there was to be presented any Bill which he considered undemocratic or repressive.

On this occasion also Lord Listowel the Governor-General was away from Ghana. The Chief Justice, Sir Kobina Arku Korsah, became the acting Governor-General. As would happen in subsequent cases of obnoxious legislation, Sir Arku Korsah was well pleased to do the bidding of Nkrumah until he himself was eventually dismissed in disgrace. Sir Arku Korsah signed the Preventive Detention Bill to make it into an Act of Parliament. As usually happens to all who timidly ride on the back of the tiger, the same Preventive Detention Act was held in terrorem over Sir Arku Korsah when he was arbitrarily dismissed by Nkrumah from the high office of Chief Justice. Sir Arku knew that the Bill he had signed into law would be invoked by Nkrumah to send him to prison if he dared to protest his dismissal. It was left to others, particularly the National Union of Ghana Students, to protest against the dismissal of the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Superior Courts. The whole country had otherwise been cowed into silence when the powers of Nkrumah descended on the courts to intimidate them into submission.

Initially the Preventive Detention Act provided for a maximum of imprisonment for five years without trial. Like all dictators, Nkrumah considered that to be long enough to silence the opposition and independent dissident voices. As the five years approached its end for those initially detained in 1958, Nkrumah realised that the nefarious objectives of the Act could not be achieved. Therefore, Kwame Nkrumah amended the Preventive Detention Act by removing any limit on the length of imprisonment without trial. This was done by amending the Act to permit the President (that is Nkrumah) to extend the periods of detention as he thought fit.

The Hollow Justification for the Preventive Detention Act

In 1958 when the Preventive Detention Act was passed, there was no justification whatsoever for such a pernicious piece of legislation. It was nothing else but the crown jewel in the premeditated grand design of Kwame Nkrumah to deprive the people of the newly Independent Ghana of their God-given right to freedom. He chose that strategy in order to establish himself as President for Life of Ghana.

After the justifiable overthrow of the illegitimate government of Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, hired propagandists have been at their best in proclaiming that the Preventive Detention Act was necessary because of attempts on the life of Kwame Nkrumah. They often assert without any basis in fact that the Act was a response to the bombs thrown at Nkrumah by his political opponents. The truth is that, before the Preventive Detention Act was passed in 1958, there had been no attempt on Kwame Nkrumah’s life and no bomb had been thrown at him. Anything to the contrary is a naked lie fabricated ex post facto to provide a weak justification for the Preventive Detention Act and the great suffering that it unleashed on the people of Ghana.

The matter is otherwise simple. Those who assert that the Preventive Detention Act, and the subsequent imprisonment without trial of innocent Ghanaians under the Kwame Nkrumah regime, were the result of bomb attacks earlier on Kwame Nkrumah’s life, must produce the evidence. The pernicious legislation was signed into law on 18th July, 1958, by Sir Arku Korsah, the Chief Justice acting as Governor-General. When and where was a bomb thrown at Kwame Nkrumah or an attempt made on his life prior to the enactment of the Preventive Detention Act on 18th July, 1958? If the allegations are not mere fabrications, we must now document the facts by stating when and where attempts were made on Nkrumah’s life. Indeed, such allegations may be based on the fact that the younger generation may not be conversant with the truth. For the older generations, such a posture is a deliberate distortion of incontrovertible facts of history. At the least they are manifestations of intellectual dishonesty on the part of those who know or can ascertain the truth.

In any event, even if there were attempts on Nkrumah’s life, it was not necessary, desirable or prudent to respond by adopting imprisonment without trial. There were the Police and the other security agencies which had proliferated under the Nkrumah regime. The accused persons could have been properly arraigned before the courts on appropriate charges to face the rigours of the law. That was what was done to those suspected of complicity in the Kulungugu bomb attack in 1962.

In 1958, Messrs. R.R. Amponsah and M. K. Apaloo and one Major Ahwaitey were arrested on charges of suspected subversion. There was no evidence of an attempted coup d’etat or of any concrete steps to overthrow the government of Kwame Nkrumah. All that was found on them was a Sam Brown belt associated with officers of the military rank. A Commission of Enquiry into their arrest came out with a 2 to 1 opinion that they might have contemplated an act of violence at some future date. The projected date was not identified or suggested. The two who arrived at this conclusion were the two Ghanaian members of the Commission. The third member, Mr. Justice Granville Sharp, J.A., an expatriate Judge, found nothing incriminating. Indeed, if there were any evidence of criminality, Messrs. R. R. Amponsah and M.K. Apaloo and Major Ahwaitey could have been arraigned before the regular courts on charges of subversion where they would have been afforded the opportunity to protest their innocence. The obvious conclusion was that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain a prosecution. The popular belief at the time was that Messrs. R.R. Amponsah and M. K. Apaloo were deliberately lured by the Military Intelligence through fake invitations to meet Major Ahwaitey at the T Junction on the way to Tema, in order to incriminate them. No credible evidence emerged to contradict this popular view. Therefore, rather than arraign them before the courts, the three suspects were detained under the new Preventive Detention Act in 1958. That they were detained under the Act, instead of being prosecuted on charges in the courts, demonstrates that the Preventive Detention Act predates even the alleged activities of Amponsah, Apaloo and Ahwaitey.

The failed Kulungugu bomb attack on President Nkrumah is often cited as the justification for the introduction of the Preventive Detention Act. This is sheer intellectual dishonesty. In August 1962, a bomb was detonated at a function for the reception of President Nkrumah at Kulungugu in what is now Upper West Region. That regrettable event occurred about four years after the enactment of the Preventive Detention Act of 1958. It is sheer hypocrisy and perhaps naked intellectual dishonesty to argue that the event of 1962 was a causative factor in the decision of Nkrumah to clamp such a noxious legislation on the otherwise peace-loving people of Ghana. Whatever the rational basis for Nkrumah’s ill-advised decision to have recourse to the arbitrary power of imprisonment without trial in 1958, it cannot be connected with the Kulungugu bomb attempt on him in 1962. It defies commonsense and simple logic. The attempt or effort to establish such a nebulous causal effect is as ridiculous as it is puerile. There was a long time lag of four years between the passage of the Preventive Detention Act and the Kulungugu event of 1962. The people of Ghana have the collective wisdom to appreciate the hollowness of such a claim.

The reference to the Kulungugu bomb attempt on Nkrumah is itself susceptible of different possible interpretations. The first analytical issue is one of cause and effect. It has been argued with plausible effect that it can be said that the Preventive Detention Act precipitated the Kulungugu bomb attack, rather than that the bomb attack was the impetus for the passage of that repressive law. I have already dismissed the infantile suggestion that the Act was passed in response to the Kulungugu bomb attack, because the Act had been operational for about four years prior to the bomb incident. What about the suggestion that the suffocating effect of the Preventive Detention Act could have provided the impetus for the bomb attack at Kulungugu in 1962?

Nobody, not even one of those directly accused of participation in the Kulungugu bomb incident, has offered any explanation, a reason or motive, for the attack. Any deductions from the event must, therefore, be based on the inferences from logic and human behaviour. A possible explanation is that the bomb attack was an attempt to physically eliminate the Dictator, Kwame Nkrumah, from the political scene. By having recourse to the Preventive Detention Act, Kwame Nkrumah had emasculated the opposition and silenced dissenting voices from even his own Party, the Convention People’s Party. The avenues for political change through the ballot box had been foreclosed by the indiscriminate use of the Preventive Detention Act to imprison all those who had any reason to question the programmes and policies of Nkrumah. History has shown that in all societies, when the people are denied the voice to state their views and when political dissent is treated as a criminal act, the people eventually rise up to change their leaders though the recourse to unconstitutional and even violent means.

In the atmosphere of repression clamped on Ghana in 1962, any person who desired political change could be tempted to apply unconstitutional means to change Nkrumah’s government. That was precisely the situation wittingly or unwittingly created by Kwame Nkrumah himself. In 1962, it was clear to everybody, to event the unlettered casual observer, that Kwame Nkrumah could not be removed from power except through unconstitutional means. At this time Nkrumah had also had a firm grip on the Armed Forces and had an array of both regular and unorthodox security agencies for his personal protection. Indeed in his own perception, the State was synonymous with the person of Kwame Nkrumah who had by then assumed the self-style of “Osagyefo.” The security agencies included a privileged and well-provisioned praetorian guard known as the Presidential Detail Department, who reportedly were far better endowed with logistics, materiel and ammunitions far exceeding those conceded to the regular Armed Forces.

The personal security services were structured, advised and controlled by experts from the erstwhile Soviet bloc with acclaimed experience in repressive measures and torture. Such was the position that in a confrontation between the regular forces and Nkrumah’s special security forces, the regular forces would have been easily out-gunned by the security forces, if Nkrumah himself were in the country to assume command. As it turned out, when the coup d’etat occurred on February 24, 1966, Nkrumah was far away in Beijing, China, en route to Hanoi. And he had no Vice-President but only a defused three-man Presidential Commission which could not be mobilised to offer the anticipated resistance to the coup plotters.

Confronted with this situation, it is not inconceivable that the disgruntled members of the society could have settled on a bomb attack to eliminate President Nkrumah and thus force an end to his repressive rule. The bomb plotters would not have to contend with the Armed Forces, or with the dreaded Presidential Detail Department, or the Soviet and Cuban trained irregular security agencies established by Nkrumah with public funds. Whether the conspirators were from the muzzled opposition groups or from Nkrumah’s own Convention People’s Party would not matter much for the purpose of this analysis. The common goal would have been to force political change which was no longer possible through the ballot box.

In making this analysis, we must also remember that the Nkrumah regime had refused to hold General Elections to answer to the people for the five year rule. The last General Elections were grudgingly held in 1956 prior to Independence in 1957. Under the Constitution, even the imperfect Constitution of 1957, there should have been a General Election in 1961, which is after five years. Nkrumah rejected the idea of a General Election. He alone concluded that, because his bogus 1960 Constitution had been approved in a sham referendum in 1960, there was no need to hold a General Election. At the time of that referendum almost all opposition leaders were in prison without trial or in exile, and Dr. J.B. Danquah, the proverbial lone wolf, was not permitted to canvass against the constitutional proposals. At the time of the 1962 Kulungugu bomb, therefore, it was doubtful if there would ever be another General Election to seek the mandate of the people even in such a constrained atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Those who desired change, therefore, were likely to adopt a violent means, such as the detonation of a bomb, to achieve a political objective. Whether this conjecture is true or false, it makes more sense than to assert that the 1962 bomb attempt was the justification for the enactment four years earlier of the repressive Preventive Detention Act which had been used to terrorise the population of Ghana.

There is another plausible angle to the analysis of the factors leading to the Kulungugu bomb attack on Nkrumah in 1962.It could be the classic example of a dictator singing the familiar refrain of “Save me from my friends. My enemies I can take care of.” By 1962, Nkrumah had no real fear of his political opponents whom he appeared to conceptualise as enemies. All the leading members of the identifiable groups, save a few, were locked up in prison without trial on Nkrumah’s orders under the Preventive Detention Act. These included, of course, Baffour Osei Akoto, R.R. Amponsah, M.K. Apaloo, Joe Appiah and S.G. Antor, to mention only a few. Dr. J. B. Danquah himself had, by this time, been in and out of detention. The other political leaders, including Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia, had fled the country to escape arrest and imprisonment without trial. Therefore, those whom Nkrumah had to fear were the members, especially the leaders, of his own Convention People’s Party. They were the party members and functionaries who felt badly the suffocating atmosphere of the reign of terror and the lack of opportunities for political expression. Of all people at that time, the disaffected members of Nkrumah’s own party were the most suspect class of persons who would encompass the physical elimination of the entrenched dictator.

The events of Kulungugu lend support to this theory. As it transpired, those who were identified as the linchpins in the bomb episode were leading members of Nkrumah’s own political party, the Convention People’s Party. They were frustrated that the Party had become intolerant, to such an extent that even internal disagreements were not permitted. The word of the self-styled “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah was law and no discussion was countenanced even within the party circles. There was no chance for political change, even change that could have retained the undeserved supremacy of the Convention People’s Party. It was possibly from the ranks of these internal dissidents that the plotters of the Kulungugu incident were apparently drawn.

Nkrumah himself did not disguise his belief that it was his own party stalwarts who had masterminded the Kulungugu bomb attack on him in 1962. Leading the pack were Messrs. Tawia Adamafio, Ako Adjei and H H. Cofie-Crabbe. They were prosecuted in court along with others. When the three were acquitted, Nkrumah by legislation nullified the proceedings and ordered a retrial with a jury drawn exclusively from the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute. The second trial found all three party leaders guilty as charged. Of these three, none was a member of the opposition groups or parties. Mr. Tawia Adamafio was a prominent and influential member of Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party. He rose to become General Secretary of the Party and was also designated Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Mr. Ako Adjei was Nkrumah’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the material time. It was he who had originally recommended Kwame Nkrumah for the position of the General Secretary of the old United Gold Coast Convention. He had been a friend and colleague of Nkrumah during their student days in the United States of America. The bond between them was strong.

The other member of the “gang of three” was Mr. H.H. Cofie-Crabbe. He was a close confidante of Kwame Nkrumah and was highly placed in the party hierarchy. He was at the time of Kulungugu the appointed Mayor of Accra and had the political clout almost equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister. These were the type of people who had their gripe against the party and the government style of Nkrumah. Kwame Nkrumah had declared himself Life Chairman of the Party. This meant that no other person could be elected to lead the Convention People’s Party for as long as Nkrumah was alive. There was not even a Vice-President of the Convention People’s Party, for fear that a popular member could scheme to replace Nkrumah as leader. The same style was transposed to the structure of government under Nkrumah. There was no Vice-President of Ghana who could deputise for Nkrumah in the event of absence from Ghana or physical or mental infirmity. Persons who were caught in this kind of web could easily be predisposed to challenge the existing structure and to resort to extra-legal and unconstitutional means to induce a change.

The “gang of three” would want to open up their party to electoral processes for the emergence of new leadership, a process that had been precluded by Nkrumah’s position as Life Chairman. They and others may also have been concerned about the incipient One-Party dictatorship that Nkrumah was imposing on the country. Not only the “gang of three” but other high government officials felt very insecure in their positions and jobs, as they could be removed at any time according to the predilections of the moment by the “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah. Even unsubstantiated rumours and innuendos by tale–bearers could cost one’s job, since there was no proper investigation or confrontation to offer an explanation. In many cases, public appointees were not notified of their removal from office until they heard it on the one o’clock news of Radio Ghana. It was a popular saying at that time that Cabinet Ministers and other high government officials did not eat their lunch until they had listened to the afternoon news.

Nkrumah did not pay much attention to the disaffected members of his own party. He devoted his energies to the arrest and imprisonment without trial of the rather innocent members of the decimated opposition. He wrongly believed that he had securely taken care of the opposition who were his perceived enemies. He had to cry later that he should be saved from his friends rather than from his enemies.

This section may be concluded in the same way that it began. The suggestion that the Preventive Detention Act of 1958 was enacted in response to attempts on the life of Kwame Nkrumah is a palpable lie. It is a baseless fabrication. The Kulungugu bomb attack occurred four years after the passage of the Act and cannot be the reason for it. These are demonstrable and verifiable facts.

Assuming arguendo, but without admitting, that there had been bomb attacks or other attempts on the life of Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah in 1957 or early 1958, that was not a sufficient justification for wielding the arbitrary power of imprisonment without trial of Ghanaians. It is to prevent such malevolence by miscreants that the police and other security agencies had been established and were paid for by the tax payers of this Nation. Furthermore, the regular courts have always been available. Persons accused of such serious infractions of the law must be given a fair trial where they will be allowed to mount their defence with the assistance of lawyers of their choice. To make President Nkrumah the accuser, the complainant and the judge in his own cause is inconsistent with even the elementary principles of democracy and the rule of law. It turned the rule of law into the rule of one person. That was the slippery path to repression and dictatorship into which Ghana descended very fast under the rule of Kwame Nkrumah.

Furthermore, the facts show that those who plotted his physical elimination were leading members of Nkrumah’s own ruling party who may have become disenchanted with his incipient dictatorship. The dissatisfaction emerged within the Party itself and within the corridors of government. Although other small fry of questionable political allegiance were mentioned in the Kulungugu plot and other minor incidents, the major plotters for the overthrow of Nkrumah did not, on the hard evidence, emanate from the ranks of the opposition. They came from within Nkrumah’s own Convention People’s Party, the ruling party of the day which was rapidly being transformed into the only lawful Party of the contemplated One-Party state.

Preventive Detention Could be Kwame Nkrumah’s Original Idea

It is certainly difficult to fathom the mind of a political leader, more so a dictator of the ilk of Kwame Nkrumah. We may, therefore, never know for certain why Nkrumah chose the path of dictatorship through the Preventive Detention Act which brought so much pain and suffering to many Ghanaians and Ghanaian homes. It was not because of any perceived threat to his life because there was no such move as would lend colour to such a suspicion when he imposed that Act on the young and newly Independent nation of Ghana.

It is not improbable that Nkrumah saw the Preventive Detention Act as a violent and repressive instrument which would facilitate and actualise his determination to be the President of Ghana for life. In that frame of mind, it was logical for Nkrumah to consider all political opponents as enemies who would frustrate his insatiable ambition. This view, rather any other factor, may have motivated Nkrumah to resort to such repressive measures in order to silence his opponents. This view is also consistent with the personality traits that Nkrumah exhibited before his accession to power.

Before his return to the Gold Coast to work for the United Gold Coast Convention, Kwame Nkrumah had formed a secret political group in England. The group was known as THE CIRCLE. Membership of THE CIRCLE was to champion the anti-colonialist struggle. It was in itself a noble idea. However, THE CIRCLE was structured around Kwame Nkrumah and he made himself the only and the supreme leader who could not be changed. To ensure that his sole and personal leadership could not be challenged under any circumstances then or in the future, his personal leadership position was written into the constitution of THE CIRCLE. Members of THE CIRCLE had to swear personal allegiance to, and support for, the person of Kwame Nkrumah. A member on admission had to swear that “I…accept and abide by the laws of THE CIRCLE…” What did the laws of THE CIRCLE contain? Law 7 of THE CIRCLE stated that “I accept the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah.”

At that time Nkrumah had not received an honorary doctorate, and had not self-assumed the title and style of “Osagyefo.” He was, therefore, known as plain Kwame Nkrumah. Acceptance of Kwame Nkrumah’s leadership was part of the laws binding members of THE CIRCLE. This was a requirement for membership. It was clear, therefore, that THE CIRCLE was never intended to be a democratic organisation with leadership by the choice of the members. Nkrumah was to be the only leader who could not be removed even if he lost the confidence of his followers. Although THE CIRCLE was a private association, the manner in which Nkrumah entrenched himself was clearly indicative of the fact that he always wanted to lead any organisation to which he belonged, and that his position therein was incontestable by election or other means. Unknown to the leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention, this was the person that they had invited to be the General Secretary of the Convention.

As it turned out, Nkrumah could not have remained in the United Gold Coast Convention of which he could not become the undisputed leader. He either had to become the undisputed leader, perhaps a leader for life, or else he had to find his exit. In other words, even if there were no ideological or strategic disagreements between Nkrumah and the leadership of the United Gold Coast Convention, it was only a matter of time before he would break away. The failure to appreciate this character trait of Kwame Nkrumah must have caused the leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention much grief. It was the same personal desire to assume leadership positions by fair or foul means, and to retain such power for life, which may explain the passage of the Preventive Detention Act by Nkrumah and which motivated his indiscriminate wielding of that power of imprisonment without trial.

Kwame Nkrumah’s own autobiography gives a clue to his decision to impose himself on the people of Ghana as a President for life. Nkrumah did not subscribe to the democratic ideal. More than that, his beliefs were antithetical to electoral politics, since popular votes could depose him from his leadership pedestal. This can be seen from the type of philosophical and political concepts which animated his thought and programmes of action. At pages vii-viii, being the Preface to Ghana: Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, Nkrumah gives a list of people whose idea molded his own. He wrote of his student days that:

“At this time I devoted much energy to the study of revolutionaries. Those who interested me most were Hannibal, Cromwell, Napoleon, Lenin, Mazzini, Gandhi, Mussolini and Hitler.”

Now, who are those people who so much interested Nkrumah? The great Mahatma Gandhi, according to Nkrumah’s own autobiography, did not make much impression on him with his pacifist philosophy. That tactical approach, in any case did not appeal to Nkrumah because there was no Indian type of mass movement. By the time Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947, the mass political movement and national consciousness had been kindled by Dr. Danquah and the leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention. All that Nkrumah needed was to endeavour to wrestle the mantle of leadership from the Convention.

Hannibal was an ambitious military general who at the age of about 26 manouvred to become Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Propelled by the passion for leadership and consumed by eternal hostility to Italy, he precipitated the two Punic Wars. Of Oliver Cromwell we know that he usurped the position of the Crown and became Protector who sought to impose himself on the United Kingdom. At east twice he dissolved Parliament because it would not do his bidding. He insisted upon government by a single person (himself) and Parliament He believed that he had been “called” to power, much as Nkrumah would proclaim his right to rule Ghana with “Messianic Dedication” Mazzini was noted for his efforts at a united Italy. He plotted conspiracies against the existing governments of Italy in the 1830 and 1840s but the revolts met with failure. Ghana was not faced with an Italian Risorgimento for which Nkrumah could deduce any useful lessons from Mazzini but subterfuge.

We know the expansionist ambitions of Napoleon Bonaparte which plunged the world into the Napoleonic wars. Significant, however, is the grand scheming by which Napoleon was able to dispose of his colleagues on the early ruling Council to eventually become the Emperor of France. One is reminded, in this context, of Kwame Nkrumah and the Big Six. Of the five others arrested with him by the colonial Government, Mr. E. Akuffo-Addo was the luckiest. He was dismissed by Nkrumah from the Supreme Court of Ghana in disgrace. The rest were not so lucky. Mr. William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie) was in and out of prison without trial during the Nkrumah era. Mr.Ako Adjei remained in detention in prison until released when Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in February, 1966. Mr. E. Obetsebi-Lamptey, although his body was riddled with disease, was sent on a stretcher to the Nsawam Prison and detained there without trial until he died. The case of Dr. J.B. Danquah is well known and well documented. When he was detained in prison the second time without trial, Nkrumah ensured that he endured the most cruel and inhumane treatment leading to an excruciating and painful death in a condemned prisoner’s cell at the Nsawam Prison.

Who are the rest of Nkrumah’s influential thinkers? Benito Mussolini, Lenin and Adolf Hitler. The populist sloganeering of Hitler’s National Socialist Patty (NAZI Party) and the vilificatory propaganda of Josef Goebbels must have appealed to and greatly influenced Nkrumah. He founded the Convention People’s Party by vilifying Dr. Danquah and others of the United Gold Coast Convention through the fabrication of baseless lies about them. That was Hitler’s path to power in Germany. Similarly, Nkrumah must have admired the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini who, with iron fist, forced Italy into the embrace of the Axis Powers during the Second World War.

The Communist leaders were greatly appealing to Nkrumah and he adopted many of their totalitarian measures in the new Ghana. His admiration for communism as a political system was not disguised. He had Soviet and other communist advisers in the economics and finance ministries of Ghana when he was in power. They also advised and controlled his military and security agencies which became agents of oppression. The fascination with Lenin, therefore, was a logical deduction even if Nkrumah himself had not volunteered the information.

Nkrumah’s Preconceived Proclivity to Dictatorship

It is true that many adherents of Nkrumah’s repressive regime have contrived to find explanations for the dictatorship that he clamped on Ghana. In all these, they have sought to contend that Nkrumah was compelled by the atmosphere of violent opposition in the post-independence Ghana to have recourse to undemocratic, authoritarian and totalitarian measures to rule Ghana. They would blame everybody except Nkrumah himself for the tyranny he unleashed on Ghana. They would blame the moon and the stars, but never Kwame Nkrumah himself, for the ugly situation he designed and applied to Ghana. Therein lies the hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of many of our compatriots, particularly those with respectable levels of education and sophistication.

It is submitted that no amount of sophistry, and no amount of calumny or distortion of history, can successfully controvert the truth that Nkrumah never intended that under his leadership Ghana would be allowed even the elementary principles of freedom which the people yearned for, and for which hey had fought for liberation from colonialism. To Nkrumah, the end of colonialism would only catapult him into the position of an absolute dictator who would rule with iron hand for life. He revealed this tendency in the list of persons whose lives and political philosophies he imbibed and sought to emulate. We have seen above the unenviable list as stated by Kwame Nkrumah himself.

Notwithstanding the revisionist theories of modern-day Nkrumaists, if there is a word like that, Kwame Nkrumah himself had outlined very clearly his vision of the Independent Ghana. It was not to be a Ghana with a free market economy and it would not be allowed a system that would countenance a liberal democratic rule. In his autobiography, which he presumptuously titled Ghana, and which was published in 1957 on the eve of Ghana’s Independence, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah spelt out in plain language what was in store for Ghana. Wrote Kwame Nkrumah:

“Capitalism is too complicated a system for a newly independent nation. Hence the need for a socialist society. But even a system based on social justice and a democratic constitution may need backing up, during the period following independence, by emergency measures of a totalitarian kind. Without discipline true freedom cannot survive.”

Like many of Kwame Nkrumah’s categorical assertions, he needed no authority or data to support them. The atmosphere of political repression in which he operated at that time was such that every word falling from whim was to be accepted as categorical truth emanating ex cathedra from the authority of the “Osagyefo.” To have disputed them at that time would have been a quixotic flirtation with the prospect of imprisonment without trial.

Today we can controvert the self-styled “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah’s assertion that “Capitalism is too complicated a system for a newly independent nation.” Kwame Nkrumah had no statistical, scientific or empirical evidence for that statement. It was a bald, unsupportable, egocentric and evidently self-serving statement by a nascent dictator to justify and lay the foundations for the denial of a free market economy in the newly independent Ghana. There was no evidence, not even anecdotal evidence, to support that statement. At the time of Ghana’s Independence, there were four other “newly independent” nations in Africa, in addition to the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia. These were Liberia, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. In all these independent African states, the economic system was “capitalist” with, of course, variations of detail to accommodate local conditions. There were also newly independent nations like India, Pakistan and Malaysia, none of which had rejected capitalism as too complex.

Characteristically, Nkrumah wrote that statement without an effort to explain the alleged complexity of capitalism for the new nation of Ghana. In a sense, any attempt by him to expatiate on this would have lent support to the imperialist arguments that such peoples of the world were not ready for self-determination but had to remain under colonial tutelage to prepare them for self-government. Nkrumah’s version of this neo-colonial argument is that Ghanaians were not ready to assume their own destiny as a free people to chart their nation’s destiny. They had to remain in the Nkrumaist chains to learn to understand the complexities of the “evil” system of capitalism as contrasted with the blessings of socialism. The way Nkrumah would teach the people of Ghana to be ready to take their destiny into their own hands was through their imprisonment without trial under a Preventive Detention Act. This was notwithstanding the fact that imprisonment without trial under Kwame Nkrumah was not conscription into the proverbial “re-education camps” of the type experienced in the communist countries. Re-education was to be later imposed on public and party officials at the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute where bogus theories of Nkrumaism were spewed.

Nkrumah’s castigation of capitalism as “too complicated,” not only for Ghana but for all newly independent nations, was a deliberate strategy to reverse the course of democracy which had been nurtured under British rule and which the good people of Ghana had evidently adopted. Such adoption was demonstrated in the protracted pre-independence constitutional conferences in which all segments of the Gold Coast society had insisted on democratic rule and a free market economy. By opting out of capitalism without articulating the difficulties inherently associated with it, Nkrumah was clearly advocating a leaning towards socialism. At that time the socialist countries were known. They included the communist countries of the Soviet Union, China and North Korea. Their economic systems were intertwined with communism, and they rejected the democratic system of government. In these counties there was no freedom of conscience; and imprisonment without trial was the norm. By peremptorily rejecting capitalism, whatever that meant to him, Nkrumah was directly advocating an economic and political system of communist rule.

The fact is that all countries which professed socialism were communist countries where personal liberty was set at naught and where the communist state was more important than the individual citizen. This system was perfectly consistent with and actually inherent in the system of democratic centralism that Nkrumah imposed on Ghana. The violent tool for such enforced conformity to non-democratic, semi-communist rule was the notorious Preventive Detention Act with which Nkrumah succeeded in reducing Ghana into a totalitarian state. Thus, although Nkrumah never really abandoned “capitalism,” and never seriously completed converting Ghana into a socialist economy, his socialist and communist rhetoric enabled him to whittle away the liberties of Ghanaians. We must all now be honest to admit that this was a tragic episode in our nation’s history. This permanent and indelible blotch on Nkrumah is not tantamount to a denial of his role in the attainment of Independence of Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah’s Preconceived Commitment to Dictatorship

It may bear repetition that Kwame Nkrumah did not enact or apply the Preventive Detention Act in response to any domestic threats or for fear of attacks on his life or his person. If he feared anything, it was that he dreaded the prospect that the citizens of a free Ghana might one day exercise their franchise to vote him out of power. He anticipated this even when Ghana was still struggling to attain nationhood. The pseudo-communists and fellow travellers who surrounded him were men who had no penchant for the ballot box or admiration for electoral politics.

As has been noted above, when he founded THE CIRCLE, Kwame Nkrumah ensured that he was to remain the unelected Head of that organisation for life. In pursuit of that, every person who joined THE CIRCLE was obligated to swear personal allegiance to Kwame Nkrumah. When he founded the Convention People’s Party in 1949, while professing to liberate Ghana to usher the nation into freedom, he made himself the Life Chairman of the Party. That meant that his position as Party Leader could never be contested.

It was obviously the plan of Kwame Nkrumah that upon attainment of Independence by Ghana, when the restraining hands of the colonial government would have been discarded, he would be absolute ruler of our country forever. In fact, he intended to rule for life; but as he cultivated the cult of personality which proclaimed that “Nkrumah never dies,” the expressions “for life” and “forever” could have been regarded by him as having only semantic distinctions without a difference of substance. He exhibited enough dictatorial tendencies in the pre-Independence era. Such tendencies accounted for the apprehensions of the opposition leaders, including Baffuor Osei Akoto, the Asantehene’s Chief Linguist, in asking for constitutional guarantees for personal liberty and human rights in the Independence Constitution. Unfortunately, the British Colonial Government could not appreciate the enormity of the danger looming over the people of the Gold Coast as they approached their Independence. Consequently the Imperial Power bequeathed to Ghana a brief document of a Constitution which was totally bereft of any protection for human rights and personal liberties.

Based on the evidence and the exhibited proclivities of the man Kwame Nkrumah, as well as his own pronouncements, it cannot be disputed that Nkrumah’s plan was to impose dictatorship on Ghana right from the date of nationhood. Any attempt to explain away Nkrumah’s dictatorship by blaming the opposition for physical attacks on Nkrumah are nothing but exhibition of hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, often wrapped in naked lies. The facts to the contrary are glaring.

What was probably not fully appreciated at the time was Kwame Nkrumah’s own statement on the type of government he envisaged for Ghana. His words are clear and do not admit of any obfuscation. No amount of casuistry can distort Nkrumah’s own declaration of manifest preference for a dictatorial regime. Following are the words of Kwame Nkrumah on the eve of Ghana’s Independence, before he proclaimed himself the “Osagyefo.” He wrote in the Preface to his autobiography:

“But even a system based on social justice and a democratic constitution may need backing up, during the period following independence, by emergency measures of a totalitarian kind.”

At the eve of Independence, when power had not been fully transferred to Ghana as a sovereign nation, Nkrumah published his autobiography in which he did say unequivocally that he would rely on “measures of a totalitarian kind” to rule Ghana. This was in March 1957. It is intellectually dishonest, to say the least, that the Kulungugu bomb attack on Nkrumah in August, 1962, was the reason why the Preventive Detention Act was enacted in1958. That is a ridiculous statement and a shameless manipulation of the facts of history. Before the Kulungugu bomb attack in 1962, the notorious Preventive Detention Act was in force and many citizens had been victims of that pernicious legislation. Before 1962, Dr. Danquah had been detained and then released under the Act for the first time. Baffuor Osei Akoto and others were in detention before 1962. Mr. S.G. Antor of the Togoland Congress, an affiliate of the opposition United Party, was languishing in prison without trial, long before 1962.The passage of the notorious Preventive Detention Act in 1958, barely a year after Independence, was part of the declared master plan of Kwame Nkrumah to turn Ghana into a totalitarian state. He did not need any prompting or pretext to adopt such an evil system which he very well knew would spell doom for our young nation.

Now let us look briefly at Nkrumah’s own choice of words. He proclaimed that, following independence, there would be the need for measures of a totalitarian kind. He did not mince his words and we must understand them as he used them. He wanted a totalitarian regime for Ghana in the period following Independence.

Nkrumah knew the difference between a democratic regime and a totalitarian one. That is why he asserted his clear view that even if Ghana had a democratic constitution, there would still be the need for totalitarian measures. Certainly totalitarian measures are incompatible with democratic rule. Nkrumah, at least for once, was stating that even if there was a democratic constitution, he would subvert that constitution to impose totalitarian rule. The process was easier for Nkrumah because the Independence Constitution of 1957 could hardly be said to be democratic. It contained no Articles to protect fundamental human rights like the liberty of the person, freedom of speech or of association, freedom of the press or right of access to the courts. Instead the 1957 Constitution merely gave Kwame Nkrumah a carte blanche by a meaningless provision that the Parliament of Ghana was endowed with power to make laws for “order and good government.” Whatever that nebulous phrase meant, in Nkrumah’s terminology, which was animated by the desire for totalitarianism, the passage of an Act, such as the Preventive Detention Act, which empowered him to indefinitely imprison his fellow human beings without trial, was an Act in furtherance of “order and good government.”

Nkrumah liked to portray himself as an intellectual. In any case, he professed to have read some political science and some philosophy. He had also read some law, although he failed his law examinations. Therefore, we can presume that he knew the difference between an authoritarian state and a totalitarian state. That is why his choice of words in the admonition to Ghanaians in his autobiography is significant.

An authoritarian state is one in which basic freedoms of dissent are severely curtailed. Those in authority, or clothed with power under the organs of government, utilisse arbitrary powers to ensure obedience of the citizenry to the state. In whatever form, the distinguishing feature of an authoritarian state is that state power is used, or abused, usually accompanied by the invocation of force, to ensure obedience to the authority of the state. Usually these are right-wing governments which intimidate the citizens, often by raising the specter of the fear of communism, in order to perpetuate themselves in power. They profess democracy but with restrictive and repressive laws which do not allow for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Political authority is, therefore, concentrated in a small group of people. It is not desirable to live in an authoritarian state. However, it is worse in a totalitarian state of the type that had an appeal for Kwame Nkrumah.

In contrast, a totalitarian state is one where there are no laws but the authority of those who would be holding power would constitute the law. In this system, there is no limit to the exercise of power by the ruler. Since it is antidemocratic, the ruler may have unlawfully seized power. In many cases, as in Nkrumah’s Ghana, the rulers ascend to power through regular or democratic elections, but subsequently subvert the organs of state or the democratic processes to impose their will. The ruler’s will is typically imposed by the proscription of other political parties and groups, in order to create the atmosphere and conditions for domination by one group. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines totalitarianism as a One-Party form of government requiring complete subservience to the State. Totalitarian regimes are usually sustained in power by all-encompassing propaganda campaigns. They utilise state-controlled media, regulate and control speech, have widespread resort to terror, charismatic “mystique” and personality cult. It would appear that the concept of totalitarianism was developed in a real sense by the Italian fascists led in about 1923 by Benito Mussolini, one of the political philosophers who won Nkrumah’s admiration.

Some believe that Mussolini coined the term totalitario in the Italian, to encapsulate the new fascist state system of Italy. This definition must sound familiar to Ghanaians. From the Preventive Detention Act which was indiscriminately used as a legal instrument of state terrorism, Nkrumah completed the cycle by formally declaring Ghana a one-party state in 1964. Thus the avowed policy of Nkrumah’s rule was to effectuate what he had said in his Autobiography at the eve of Ghana’s Independence. It was to subject Ghana to a totalitarian rule. It was a plan hatched from the beginning, before actual Independence, and implemented according to and in fulfillment of a grand design. We need not blame anybody for subsequent events but Nkrumah himself. It was not because of violence by the opposition parties or any attack on Kwame Nkrumah. The fact is that Nkrumah failed to learn the lessons of history that dictators often end in grief. In his case, it is hypocritical to blame the American Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) or other foreign powers for his fall.

Ghanaians were fed up with his repression. In his sober moments Nkrumah himself must have seen the hollowness of his sloganeering and repression as leading only to the inevitability of his removal from office by a coup d’etat. Having closed all avenues for democratic change, he must have known that change would come out of the barrel of the gun. He must have been a fool if he did not see the inexorability of his eventual removal from power through extra-legal means. Those who care should read what the newspapers published and contained in the days and weeks soon after Nkrumah’s overthrow in February, 1966, to assess the feelings of Ghanaians when that anticipated event occurred. The C.I.A. could not have gone to places like Hohoe to organise men and women, including ordinary farmers and market women, who demonstrated spontaneous joy and relief upon the fall of Nkrumah’s totalitarian regime.

Of course, Nkrumah’s totalitarian plans for Ghana were echoed by one of his trusted but vocal ministers less than a year after Independence. Soon after the return of Kwame Nkrumah from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London, one of his trusted ministers, Mr. Krobo Edusei, who had accompanied him to that Conference, spoke. He told the press that Kwame Nkrumah had met the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Pandit Nehru, who had offered him advice as Prime Minister of an older Commonwealth nation. According to Mr. Krobo Edusei, Mr. Nehru had advised Nkrumah to get tough with the opposition parties by tackling and muzzling them with repressive legislative measures to curb the rising influence of the opposition political parties. Later Mr. Krobo Edusei was heard putting a spin on his own words, and the C.P.P. propaganda machinery joined in the fray. Nevertheless, the substance of the prospects of a future repression were not denied nor dispelled. The events which followed showed that Mr. Krobo Edusei spoke at least part of the truth. Even if Nehru did not give such a bad advice, Kwame Nkrumah had, to the knowledge of Mr. Krobo Edusei, planned repression in Ghana. Soon after the return from the London conference, a series of repressive laws was enacted. This started from the Deportation Act, 1957 , which was used to deport even persons claiming to be Ghanaians and thus immune from deportation, just because they were suspected of loyalty to the opposition parties.

The Pervasive and Random Application of the Preventive Detention Act

The notorious Preventive Detention Act was applied indiscriminately and pervasively throughout Ghana. It became a veritable instrument of state terrorism. It was applied to politicians, and to ordinary Ghanaians of all walks of life. The victims included farmers, market women , lawyers, doctors and all professionals. University lecturers were also arrested, as were office clerks and even cleaners and labourers in offices. Eventually students in our institutions of learning were added to the ever-expanding list of innocent detainees under the Act.

When the Preventive Detention Act was first introduced, there was wide-spread criticism of the law. Fears were expressed that it could be used as a means of vindictiveness, to wrongfully but legally incarcerate political opponents. It was feared that the Act would be arbitrarily invoked to terrorise and intimidate Ghanaians. Nobody, however, could have imagined the pervasive scale and the horrendous extent to which the Act was used. The Preventive Detention Act enabled Kwame Nkrumah to convert the whole of Ghana into one huge prison.

The control by Nkrumah was total and every movement of Ghanaians was monitored by untrained and illiterate cadres of spies and political informants. To ensure a total grip on the citizens of Ghana, there was introduced what was officially termed the Exit Permit. Any person who wanted to travel outside Ghana had to obtain an Exit Permit from the security agencies. This was in addition to the visa requirements of the country of one’s destination. When once an application was submitted with one’s Passport for permission to travel out of the country, the intending visitor was scrutinised by the police and other security agencies. Many were picked up in the process of a normal application for an Exit Permit to travel on legitimate business. That was the type of Ghana we endured. It was a cardinal feature of what has come to be known as Nkrumaism. Ghanaians must know these facts when they are being urged to accept a return to the old days of Nkrumah.

When Baffuor Osei Akoto and others were arrested, the impression was deliberately created that they were plotting the overthrow of the Government of Ghana. There was no truth in those malicious falsehoods peddled by officialdom. Neither was it true that Mr. S.G. Antor and Mr. Kodzo Dumoga of the Togoland Congress were plotting any criminal activity. These people were arrested and imprisoned for no other reason than the publicly known fact that they did not belong to Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party.

With time, it was not only politicians who were arbitrarily imprisoned without trial under the Act. Leaders and hangers-on of the C.P.P. used the Act to intimidate and settle even personal scores with their opponents or adversaries. A deliberate lie by one’s opponent to Nkrumah or to any of his cohorts or party apparatchiks was enough to send one to prison without trial. Persons who were engaged in land disputes sent their adversaries to prison without trial by simply informing on them that they were not loyal party supporters. A rival over the affections of a woman would end the matter in his favour by simply reporting to party functionaries that the other man was not a C.P.P. man. It was a matter for great regret that even innocent little children were unwitting tools in this dangerous design. Following the practices of the Hitler Jugend or Hitler Youth, Nkrumah had established out of public funds the Young Pioneers. They consisted mainly of young and highly impressionable pre-teen children. These Young Pioneers were indoctrinated to develop absolute loyally to the Osagyefo as did the Hitler Jugend to the Furher. In total loyalty to the “Osagyefo” these young children were encouraged to report to their leaders even the casual conversations at home by their parents, excusably unsuspecting that it would result in the arrest and imprisonment of the dear Papa.

One can now partly understand why in his own words Nkrumah admired Hitler. One can also partly understand why later Nkrumah invited to Ghana and appointed as Flight Instructor at the Afienya Gliding School, the reputed Nazi German Pilot, Hanna Reitsch. The famed Hanna Reitsch, a close associate of Adolf Hitler, was a distinguished pilot of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe in the Second World War. She was also a poster girl of Hitler’s Nazi Party. It was Hanna Reitsch who reportedly made the daring flight to the Furher’s bunker in Berlin in the last days of the Second World War. If Nkrumah were in Ghana during the coup of February 24, 1966, one could guess whether Hanna Reitsch would have attempted a similar daring feat to fly the self-styled “Osagyefo” out to safety.

At one stage, arrests were made at random, even if not based on specific reports. It was known that signed, blank Preventive Detention Orders were distributed to party functionaries and certain security agents. When an office of the opposition United Party or Togoland Congress was randomly raided, any person found on the premises was carted away to prison. They included cleaners in the offices, and messengers. They also included casual visitors to the office even if they were not there for a political activity. The purpose of such raids was to intimidate the people in order to pressure them into submission. All that was done was to ask the name of the person found on the premises, and then write it on the signed blank Preventive Detention Order. If the accidental detainee had connections within or to Nkrumah’s C.P.P., efforts may be made to secure his release without any formal process, because it was all within the unfettered discretion of one man, the self-styled “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah. Otherwise, as was usually the case, the detained person would remain in prison. He would languish in prison indefinitely and often all was forgotten about him. It would take relatives a long time to know of the fate of such a detainee who had not returned home. The lists of detainees were not published, except for prominent personalities like Baffuor Osei Akoto, Dr. J.B. Danquah, S. G. Antor and E.O Obetsebi-Lamptey.

The National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.)

Even before Nkrumah formally declared Ghana a One-Party State, the opposition had all but ceased to exist. Perhaps the only group of people who risked uttering dissenting voices consisted of the students. The National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) in those days played a valiant role which is today being denied in certain quarters. In a deliberate attempt to distort our history, there have been erroneous assertions that the National Union of Ghana Students was first formed in 1966, that is after the overthrow of Nkrumah. That would hide the ugly fact that the N.U.G.S. and its members were persecuted by the Nkrumah regime until the fall of Nkrumah. I was a member and leader of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) in the days of Nkrumah. That was before 1966.

At that time Nkrumah wanted the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) to become a part of the youth wing of the Convention People’s Party. Together with the Young Pioneers, we would be propagating the ideologies of the Convention People’s Party and of Nkrumah. That was the pattern in the then Soviet Union where the Student Council of the U.S.S.R. was a part of the COMSOMOL, the youth wing of the Communist Party. The students rejected this proposal because they did not like N.U.G.S. to be aligned or allied with a political party or ideology. We insisted on an independent student organisation. When this became apparent to him, Nkrumah initially decided to do the honourable thing by founding the Convention People’s Party’s own student organisation, known as the National Association of Socialist Student Organisations, with the acronym of NASSO. In spite of the generosity of the Government and the C.P.P., the NASSO could not attract student support. Consequently they resorted to subterfuge. Students were paid to spy on their fellow students in their Halls of residence as in their classrooms. Student leaders were spied upon, intimidated and harassed. They spied also on lecturers both in and outside the lecture rooms. The leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) was undaunted by these officially sanctioned methods of harassment and intimidation.

In the end, the leaders of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) were arrested and detained without trial. I was the National President of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) in 1963. We were arrested in 1964. All these are documented. I have heretofore generally refrained from discussing my own role and my bitter experiences of those days. However, I am compelled to speak on this matter now because in 2006, as appeared in both the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times of 23rd March, 2006, one Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa purporting to be in the leadership of then then National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.), cut a birthday cake in supposed celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.). Present at the ceremony was Mr. K.B. Asante. I wrote to the said Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa drawing his attention, but there was no reply. I wrote to the Editors of both the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times to check their archives and correct the error but they also have not responded. I know Mr. K.B. Asante for whom I had some respect.

He was in government in Nkrumah’s time and knew that there was a National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) at the time prior to 1966.He must also be aware that leaders of the N.U.G.S. had been dragged out from their classrooms into detention by Kwame Nkrumah. I have drawn his attention to his error of judgment in lending credibility to the fake celebration of the deliberately ascribed 1966 as the date of the foundation of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.). Upon his appointment as Deputy Minister of Information in the N.D.C. Government of President Mills, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has officially repeated the falsity. The Government itself has not made any effort to support the Deputy Minister in this fabrication. This monstrous falsehood could not be supported by the Government probably because President Mills was our mate at the Faculty of Law at Legon when these events occurred and, being a gentleman, he could not have contradicted them.

The truth is that I was the National President of the National Union of Ghana Students for the years 1962-1963. That was not a phantom organisation. It was a real one. I took over the office of National President from one Mr. P.D. Vanderpuije of the University of Science and Technology. Mr. F.Y.I. Fiagbe of the University of Science and Technology later succeeded me as President. Those who are interested in pursuing the historical truth will discover that the National Union of Ghana Students existed as far back as the early 1950s. The National Union of Ghana Students was in existence before I entered Legon in 1959 and it was a member of the International Student Conference, headquartered in Leiden in the Netherlands. Under my Presidency, it also joined the International Union of Students with headquarters in Prague.

It is difficult to believe that Mr. S.O Ablakwa could be unaware that, for my leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students, I was dragged from the classroom at Legon, arrested and detained by President Kwame Nkrumah without trial under the notorious Preventive Detention Act. Some of my colleagues, including Mr. Fiagbe (who succeeded me as President) and the late Mr. Antwi (my General Secretary, and later a Circuit Court Judge), Mr. Easmon and Mr. Kodwo Carr, were also imprisoned without trial. All these happened in 1964. To imply that there was no National Union of Ghana Students before 1966, is not only a distortion of history but a denial of the heroic role played and the sacrifices made by individual students and students generally in the history of this country.

We did hold a Congress of the National Union of Ghana Students (N.U.G.S.) in 1964 before our arrest and imprisonment. At that Congress we passed resolutions condemning the dismissal of the Judges and against repression and incipient dictatorship in the country. In 1965 we were not allowed by the Government to meet. In 1966, after the fall of Kwame Nkrumah, we resumed our Congress. To ensure continuity, I flew in from London, where I had become a post-graduate student, to attend the N.U.G.S. Congress in December, 1966, at the Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana, Legon.

The respect which the National Union of Ghana Students enjoys today is traceable to the struggles of those who were leaders and members before the 1966 coup d’etat, which liberated the student movement. We paid dearly for freedom for Ghanaians and for respectability for the National Union of Ghana Students to continue to exist in the face of a repressive One-Party State. We endeavoured to build and sustain a vibrant National Union of Ghana Students, notwithstanding the grave odds. We had hoped that future generations of students would know (and maybe appreciate) the historical antecedents of the National Union of Ghana Students. Perhaps that is a forlorn hope! However, I believe that I am not expecting too much from the future leaders of this country.

I have dwelt on the case of the National Union of Ghana Students because it is illustrative of the efforts to deliberatively distort, re-write or obliterate the salient facts of the history of Ghana. Perhaps it is believed that, by proclaiming that the National Union of Ghana Students was not founded until after the fall of Nkrumah in 1966, it may not be known that Kwame Nkrumah arrested, imprisoned and molested students, spied on students and suppressed academic freedom. These are ugly facts, perhaps politically unpalatable to segments of the political divide, but they cannot and must not be denied or suppressed, as many of these facts are documented.

Treatment of Political Detainees

Detainees under the Preventive Detention Act were subjected to the most cruel and inhumane treatments. They were worse than common criminals. After all, the common criminals were not perceived as scheming to wrestle political power from Kwame Nkrumah, the self-styled “Osagyefo.”

Apart from official orders, the prison and security officers were afraid of the consequences to them if any detainee were to escape. Therefore, they kept the detainees under the most stringent conditions. In most cases, they were not allowed time outside their cells and they were not allowed to mix with convict prisoners. The rations were poor, and Nkrumah later ordered that they should even be worse.

Most detainees were denied medical attention. They were expected to die from whatever malady afflicted them in detention without trial. If one died it was good riddance for the Osagyefo. Therefore, with time, the Ghanaian doctors were replaced with Soviet communist and Cuban doctors, and doctors who had worked for Adolf Hitler at Jewish Concentration Camps These foreign doctors received specific orders on the treatment of the detainees under the Preventive Detention Act. As would be expected for persons held without trial in such horrendous conditions, many died of both illness and neglect. Many suffered irreversible damage to their health before their release after the 1966 coup d’etat. As for Kwame Nkrumah, he could not understand what it meant to release a prisoner, even a prisoner held without trial, on compassionate or health grounds. Even when Dr. J.B. Danquah was on the verge of death in his condemned prisoner’s cell, Nkrumah rejected all appeals to him personally to spare the life of the old man.

I have myself been a victim of detention by Kwame Nkrumah. However, it is not my intention to recount my own experiences here. That is a personal matter and I am not speaking to that today.

It is indeed nauseating and repulsive to conscience to relate the cruel and inhumane conditions under which detainees imprisoned without trial were held in prisons in Nkrumah’s Independent Ghana. There are many credible accounts of sadism and cruelty under Kwame Nkrumah. However, I would refer only to the documented case of Dr. J.B. Danquah. According to Mr. J.W.K. Harlley, the then Head of the Special Branch of the Ghana Police Service, after Dr. Danquah’s release from the first detention in 1962, there was a function at which Nkrumah saw Dr. Danquah by a chance. Kwame Nkrumah expressed his disgust to the senior Police Officer that Dr. Danquah looked too well. He expected Dr. Danquah to look and be emaciated. Nkrumah interpreted Dr. Danquah’s relatively decent appearance to mean that the prison officers had been too kind to him. Nkrumah, therefore, gave orders for the conditions of detention under the Preventive Detention Act to be made harsher than before.

To this end, Nkrumah convened a hasty meeting at the Flagstaff House, which was attended by Mr. Harlley; Mr. E. R.T. Madjitey, who was the Head of the Police Service (known then as the Commissioner of Police); Minister of the Interior, Mr. Kwaku Boateng; Mr. Moses, the Director of Prisons; and Mr. Abban, the Deputy Director of Prisons. Instructions were then given that all detainees under the Preventive Detention Act were to be fed only on garri, salt and water. A Confidential letter, numbered SCR.950/1 and dated 8th August, 1962, from the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior to the Director of Prisons, stated:

“I am directed by the Minister to inform you that with immediate effect all Detainees should be placed on the same prison diet as convict prisoners. The supply of eggs, milk, etc., to certain detainees on the orders of the Prison Medical Officer should cease forthwith. This cancels all previous instructions regarding the diet of detainees.”

At the same time the Prison Medical Officers were replaced with foreign doctors. For instance, Dr Schumann, a Nazi Concentration Camp doctor who had been accused of murdering over 20,000 Jews, was among the foreign doctors thereafter supervising the health of prisoners in detention in Ghana’s prisons.

Another meeting was held on 29th August, 1962, after Nkrumah’s henchmen, including Messrs. Tawia Adamafio, Ako Adjei and H.H. Cofie-Crabbe, were detained on suspicion of complicity in the Kulungugu bomb attack on the President. It was reiterated that the detainees were to be fed on only garri and water. Therefore, another letter was written to the Director of Prisons on 24th September, 1962, to re-affirm the order to feed the detainees on only garri and water. As this was not explicit, the Director of Prisons wrote a Confidential letter to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior for clarification and confirmation. That letter of 28th September, 1962, said:

“On the 24th September, 1962, the Deputy Director of Prisons and I were ushered before Osagyefo the President by the Minister and the outcome were three decisions, namely, that the Detainees should be served with only Garri and Water, discipline should be exercised more firmly, and the Visiting Committees abolished. But your letter No. SCR. 1581 dated 25th September, 1962, confirmed only the case of the Visiting Committees. I should be grateful if you will confirm that the decision regarding the ration should be suspended.”

The order on the ration, that is to give only garri and water to the detainees, was confirmed. This would not apply to common criminals like armed robbers, thieves and rapists, because they posed no direct political threat to the “Osagyefo.”

The reason for the abolition of the Prison Visiting Committees is obvious. It was to ensure that the inhuman conditions of imprisonment of detainees would remain unknown to Ghanaians and the world.

Some of those entrusted with the imprisonment of Dr Danquah without trial, and who were under instructions to torture him, have spoken about his ill-treatment at the Nsawam Prison. According to the Prison Commission which enquired into the treatment of detainees, Dr. Danquah was:

“lodged in the Condemned Section (Special Block) in cell No. 9...The cell is approximately 9 feet by 6 in area…The cell contained no bed or other furniture other than a chamber pot.”

There was an order that for the first several months of detention, the detainees in the Condemned Cells like Dr Danquah “were not allowed to stand up in their cells, having to lie down or sit on the floor.” They said:

“The life of Dr. Danquah in the cells was regulated as that of a condemned prisoner awaiting execution. Indeed, in some respects, his treatment was more rigid and circumscribed.”

The full report of the Prison Commission is available. Extracts from the Report should be read in our educational institutions, so that those who advocate the return to Nkrumah’s days can explain the findings to Ghanaians. This is important because the truth about Dr. J.B. Danquah has been suppressed for too long. Those who loudly paint the rosy picture of the Nkrumaist Paradise were either unborn, or were children and wards of corrupt Convention People’s Party officials. Some of them, including children of corrupt District Commissioners, were indeed studying abroad under scholarships they did not deserve while these atrocities were being meted out to Ghanaians.

The Effect of the Preventive Detention Act on the General Population

It was not only the detainees who suffered from the indiscriminate use of the Preventive Detention Act to imprison innocent citizens without trial. The damaging effects were felt by ordinary citizens, even though they were not themselves incarcerated within the prison walls.

First, the wielding of the power of arbitrary imprisonment without trial produced a general atmosphere of fear and insecurity throughout the country. Because the detentions were arbitrary and no reasons were assigned, nobody felt safe. Belief in one’s innocence could not guarantee against the prospect of being hauled into prison for an unknown and unspecified reason. Even loyal members of Nkrumah’s own Party knew that their loyalty or their membership was not a prophylaxis against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. That was why genuine fear gripped the whole nation. No nation can survive in which the citizens are constantly and relentlessly plagued with fear, anxiety and a deep sense of personal insecurity and insecurity of the home. Therefore, ironically even members of Nkrumah’s own Convention People’s Party breathed sighs of relief when that repressive regime was overthrown in 1966.

In addition, detention without trial very gravely affected many families. In many cases the person imprisoned without trial was the breadwinner. His imprisonment meant that the family became destitute of support. The children could not be maintained. Many children of such detainees could not continue with their education because of the loss of support. They thus became deviant youth who, drifting into prostitution, drug use and other acts of criminal and moral depravity, posed social concerns to society. Where material support was not totally lacking, the children tended to suffer from lack of discipline in the home, as they were brought up by virtual single parents. Even when the detainees were eventually released after the overthrow of Nkrumah, they still had difficulty holding decent jobs after the long periods spent in prison. Most of the former detainees were also afflicted with many and diverse forms of ailments in consequence of their long confinement in the most inhumane and horrifying conditions. In effect, we still have in the present society the ramifications of the deleterious effects of Nkrumah’s imprisonment without trial.

Many families were broken up because of the detention of husbands. Many women, after years of waiting without their husbands, were compelled by the circumstances to seek solace elsewhere. Such broken homes were common because of social pressures on the otherwise loyal spouses of the detainees.

It was not in all cases that these problems arose from actual detention. The reality of the threat of detention without trial was such that many people fled the country. Persons who had rumours or reliable information about their pending arrest often crossed to neighbouring countries through unapproved routes, usually by footpaths not adequately patrolled by Nkrumah’s Border Guards. In some cases, refugees simply bribed their way, because Nkrumah had by that time institutionalised corruption in the fabric of the body politic. In my Region, the Volta Region alone, literally thousands of people fled to neighbouring Togo to avoid imprisonment without trial. These included prominent chiefs as well as ordinary citizens. In Hohoe, for instance, Togbe Gabusu IV, Paramount Chief of the Gbi Traditional Area, spent years in exile in Togo. In his case, a Detention Order had in fact been issued against him but he was quicker than the security agencies. In the Republic of Togo the refugee population was so large and daunting that the Togo Government sought and received support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( U.N.H.C.R.).These exiles left broken homes, and families with children, with the accompanying social and financial problems not unlike those of persons who wee actually arrested and imprisoned under the Preventive Detention Act.

The Re Akoto Case

One cannot speak about the notorious Preventive Detention Act without discussing the now infamous case of Re Akoto. This case is a blotch on the judiciary of this country. It is akin to a cancerous tumour which must be extirpated if ever the opportunity arises.

As is well known, this case deals with the arrest and imprisonment without trial of an important and highly respected traditional ruler from Ashanti. Baffuor Osei Akoto was the Chief Linguist of Otumfuo the Asantehene. He occupied a very high traditional office in Ashanti and was well known throughout Ghana. He was the Chairman of the erstwhile National Liberation Movement which started its agitation, in the dying years of colonial rule, to demand what they considered to be a fair producer price for the country’s primary produce, cocoa. Later, as a constitutional structure to insulate the emergent nation from incipient but manifest left-wing centralism with dictatorial tendencies, the National Liberation Movement also demanded a Federal form of government for the independent Ghana. Federalism failed, but Kwame Nkrumah could not forgive those who had championed or advocated that cause. They and other political opponents were systematically targeted and arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge and without access to the courts. They had committed no crime, and there was no evidence of planning or contemplating any criminal Act.

If there were any such evidence, they would have been prosecuted under the Criminal Code of Ghana. However, applications for the writ of habeas corpus for their release failed on the sufficient ground that they were in lawful custody pursuant to detention orders issued against them under the pernicious Preventive Detention Act. In cases like Re Okine & Others, Re Amponsah & 1 Other, and Re Dumoga & 12 Others, the courts declined to enquire into the truth of the basis of the detention of the Applicants. One court even held that the English Habeas Corpus Act, clearly a statute of general application, was not applicable in Ghana. Although the ruling on habeas corpus was later vacated, it showed the extent to which the judiciary was prepared to pander to the Executive branch of government, meaning Kwame Nkrumah. The courts would not make a value judgment on the Preventive Detention Act but concentrated on the formal validity and apparent legality of the detention orders.

When the bogus Constitution of 1960 was promulgated after a questionable referendum, Dr. J. B. Danquah brought to the Supreme Court again the case of the detainees, including Baffuor Akoto and others. This became the celebrated case of Re Akoto & 7 Others. This time the indomitable and learned Dr. Danquah had several strings to his bow.

Dr. Danquah referred to the requirement in Article 13 of the 1960 Constitution that the President, on assumption of office, shall make a solemn declaration before the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled. The constitutional declaration said:

“That freedom and justice should be honoured and maintained…

“That no person should suffer discrimination on grounds of sex, race, tribe,

religion or political belief…

“That …no person should be deprived of freedom of religion or speech, of the right to move and assemble without hindrance or of the right of access to courts of law…”

He argued that the declaration was binding on the President. Consequently, Dr. J.B. Danquah argued, the same President could not order the imprisonment of a citizen without trial, merely because the President was, on the basis of undisclosed facts, “satisfied” that it was necessary to prevent that person from acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the state or the relations of Ghana with other states. The Supreme Court rejected this argument and held that the President’s Declaration under Article 13 of the said Constitution was not binding on the President and, in any event, was not justiciable. The Court went further to draw the incongruous and inapposite analogy that the Ghanaian President’s Declaration was similar to the Coronation Oath of the Queen of England and thus not justiciable or enforceable in any form. The Supreme Court, referring to Dr. Danquah’s argument, said:

This contention...is based on a misconception of the intent, purpose and effect of Article 13(1) the provisions of which are, in our view, similar to the Coronation Oath taken by the Queen of England during Coronation Service. In one case the President is required to make a solemn declaration, in the other the Queen is required to take a solemn oath. Neither the oath nor the declaration can be said to have a statutory effect of an enactment of Parliament.

That statement of the Supreme Court of Ghana was palpably wrong. The Coronation Oath (or Accession Declaration) of the Queen or King of England, though not mandated by a written constitution, is required by statute. At Coronation, the English Monarch is required by the law to declare that “I am a faithful Protestant” and will uphold and maintain those “enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm.” These impose enforceable obligations. Thus the Queen of England cannot retain her throne if she abjures Protestantism, or confesses the Roman Catholic faith, or becomes a Muslim or a Buddhist. In any case, the ruling of the Supreme Court on this point showed that the Declaration provided for in Article 13 of Nkrumah’s 1960 Constitution was a great hoax on the people of Ghana to whom it was touted as the equivalent of a Bill of Rights.

Dr. Danquah canvassed another critical jurisprudential issue before the Supreme Court in Re Akoto. He strenuously argued that, in detaining a citizen without trial, the President had to state for judicial review the facts on the basis on which he was satisfied that a detainee was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to the security of he state or the foreign relations of the state. In other words, the President could not be satisfied in vacuo on any issue. The “satisfaction,” such as there was, had to be based on established facts or conduct. This is particularly important, as the detainee was not being detained as punishment for past conduct but avowedly to prevent future conduct. Mr. Geoffrey Bing, an Irishman who was Nkrumah’s Attorney-General, urged the Supreme Court to reject that interpretational approach to the meaning of “satisfied” in the Preventive Detention Act. For this position, Mr. Bing relied on the majority decision of the English House of Lords in the well-known case of Liversidge v. Anderson. In that case the applicant, a person of German ancestry, was detained under the Defence of the Realm Regulations during the Second World War in which Great Britain was fighting Nazi Germany.

The Home Secretary claimed to have detained the applicant because he was “satisfied,” within the intendment of the Defence Regulations, that the applicant was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to the security of the state. The Home Secretary refused to disclose the grounds on which he became satisfied about the threat posed by the applicant. By a majority of 4 to1, the House of Lords held that the Home Secretary was not compellable to disclose his reasons. Dr. Danquah was unable to persuade the Ghana court to adopt the rather famous dissenting judgment of Lord Atkin who held that, inasmuch as the liberty of the subject was concerned, reasons must be given for deprivation of his freedom. This ground of Dr. Danquah was, therefore, rejected, The Ghana Supreme Court held that in terms of the wording of the Preventive Detention Act, the President could not be compelled to disclose the grounds on which Baffuor Osei Akoto and the others were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. It was not the best day for the judiciary in Ghana.

Before and after the Re Akoto decision by the Supreme Court of Ghana, many commentators have criticised the majority decision in Liversidge v Anderson. The dissenting judgment of Lord Atkin has become one of the most famous in legal history and has been generally commended. A future English Supreme Court (successor to the former House of Lords) is certainly unlikely to follow the majority decision in Liversidge v. Anderson. In fact, in Padfield v Minister of Agriculture and other cases, the English House of Lords unequivocally rejected the majority decision in Liversidge v. Anderson and refused to endorse the proposition of unlimited Ministerial discretion.

A further argument of Dr. J.B. Danquah in Re Akoto was that the majority decision in Liversidge v. Anderson was delivered in the unusual context of the national emergency of a raging world war of an unprecedented scale. That was in no way comparable to the peacetime conditions under which Baffuor Osei Akoto and others were detained in Ghana. He, therefore, argued that, in any event, the decision in Liversidge v Anderson ought to be distinguished from the Re Akoto case. As the learned Doctor put it, the Supreme Court of Ghana “should avoid and eschew the English war-time cases in interpreting Ghanaian peace time cases.” In their zeal to please Nkrumah, the Supreme Court of Ghana did not accept the force of Dr. Danquah’s argument, The Ghana Supreme Court rather retorted by accepting Mr. Geoffrey Bing’s position that “we do not accept the view that Parliament is competent to pass a Preventive Detention Act in war time only and not in time of peace.”

This was a legal monstrosity, particularly in the face of the words spoken by the English judges themselves in the decision relied upon in Ghana. In fact, the majority decision in Liversidge v. Anderson was not without qualification. Although declining to compel the Home Secretary to disclose his reasons for judicial scrutiny, the Law Lords made it clear that their decision was limited to the wartime situation of a grave national emergency. They did not, therefore, spell out a general proposition of the type that the Supreme Court of Ghana ascribed to them. For instance, in Liversidge v. Anderson, Lord Macmillan said:

‘…in time of emergency, when the life of the whole nation is at stake, it may well be that a regulation for the defence of the realm may quite properly have a meaning which, because of its drastic invasion of the liberty of the subject, the courts would be slow to attribute to a peacetime measure…”

Similarly Lord Wright said in that case:

”…If extraordinary powers are here given, they are here given because the emergency is extraordinary, and they are limited to the period of the emergency…”

The decision of the Supreme Court in Re Akoto is a permanent and ugly stain on the reputation of that Court. The judges could have taken a bold and pragmatic approach to the law without being guilty of excessive judicial activism. The Supreme Court failed the nation in this regard and in the process deliberately whittled away even the waning vestiges of freedom of the people. That decision legitimised the arbitrary use of executive power by a President who would eventually declare the country a One-Party State so he could rule Ghana forever. When Re Akoto was decided the way it was, Nkrumah and his advisers apparently interpreted it as an endorsement of the arbitrary right of the deprivation of freedom and liberty of the citizens. With that apparent blessing of the Supreme Court, therefore, detentions by Nkrumah without trial increased exponentially. At the time of the Re Akoto decision in 1961, it was estimated that there were only several hundred detainees in Nkrumah’s prisons without trial. By the time of Nkrumah’s overthrow about five years later in 1966, there were several thousand Ghanaians under detention without trial under the notorious Preventive Detention Act.

The Years after the Preventive Detention Act

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 .It is difficult to understand why the C.I.A. would be given the credit for liberating us. It was the work of Ghanaians who had decided to risk their lives to resist the oppressor and throw off the yoke of oppression. The level of spontaneous approbation of Ghanaians in 1966 has not greeted any other change of regime in Ghana. The almighty Central Intelligence Agency is being given too much credit it does not deserve. More regrettably, these people of the neo-colonial mentality but professing Nkrumaism are indeed insulting the intelligence of the African, by saying that we would have sheepishly continued to endure oppression if some white American had not come to our rescue. Nkrumaism can indeed distort the African mentality!

The first years after Kwame Nkrumah started with constitutional rule in which basic rights were respected. However, a legacy of Nkrumah’s megalomania resurfaced in a different form. By his denial of the people of Ghana the human and political right of the use of the ballot box to change our leaders, Kwame Nkrumah literally invited the Armed Forces and the Police to remove him from power. This was the inexorable coup d’etat of 1966. The sequel to this noble act of gallantry was that, the soldiers tasted civilian political power and became enticed by it. As a result, from 1966 to 1992, the military have repeatedly intervened to halt our experiment in democratic rule. The coup d’etat of the National Redemption Council in 1972, under Col. I. K. Archeampong, set the clock back.

It was by definition undemocratic. However, the deep regret was that they did incalculable damage to the economy. It took a lot of courage to resist the attempt by Archeampong and his men to entrench themselves in military rule in Ghana by the invention of a new system with the strange nomenclature of Unigov. That would have been a system of government in which constitutional roles would be distinctly assigned to the Armed Forces, the Police and elected civilians. Interestingly, those who blame the American Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) for everything in Ghana, have not blamed it for the resistance to the Unigov concept which would have accorded a constitutional recognition to the military as a permanent factor in our governance.

After the Archeampong years, a brief period of civilian rule emerged in 1979. However Flight–Lieutenant Jeremiah John Rawlings and his military adventurers would not allow democracy to blossom. They ushered in the most sadistic and bloody era in Ghana’s political history. Kwame Nkrumah, in all his many years of repressive rule, did not shed the blood of his enemies by hanging or the firing squad. All this changed with Flt.-Lt. Jeremiah Rawlings and his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (A.F.R.C.) in 1979, and later the Provisional National Defence Council (P.N.D.C.) in 1981. Adversaries were shot at the shooting range by firing squads. Naked women were openly flogged in public to the applause of the so-called revolutionaries. Kangaroo courts were instituted as a parallel system to the regular courts. These kangaroo courts would typically take less than five minutes for an accused person to be sentenced to death or long years of imprisonment. Often the judges in these courts were hooded to hide their identity. For almost twenty years, Ghanaians suffered this type of rough justice. Detention without trial was as rampant as in the Kwame Nkrumah regime.

Regardless of the principled condemnation of this unconstitutional seizure of power, Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings has carved for himself a permanent niche as the most brutal ruler in the annals of Ghana. His were very bloody regimes in which many were brutally killed and many disappeared. In addition, countless citizens were incarcerated without trial but only by the fiat of Rawlings. It was a common spectacle to find the charred, partly burned or mutilated or dismembered bodies of persons who were abducted from their homes. These abductions occurred at night even when a dusk to dawn curfew was clamped on the whole nation and only security service personnel were permitted to be on the streets. To Rawlings and his Provisional National Defence Council, there was no concept known as human rights. The right to life and liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of association were alien concepts to them. Even sitting Judges of the country’s High Court were abducted during state-imposed curfew hours form their homes, and cruelly murdered by operatives of the ruling junta. It was heretical and anathematic to broach such issues, and the reprisal was imprisonment or, predictably worse still, disappearance or assassination. Nkrumah, with all his repression, never resorted to political execution of his opponents.

It took the deplorable deterioration of the economy and the consequential effect of international pressure for Jeremiah Rawlings to concede to return Ghana to constitutional rule. That decision was taken grudgingly. Quite apart from his disgraceful record in human rights, Rawlings had also ruined Ghana=s economy completely. Donor countries which had winked at the human rights abuses, including the executions and disappearances, began to insist on minimal standards of decency and public accountability. A combination of these forced the hand of Rawlings.

The people of Ghana demanded a Constituent Assembly of elected representatives to draw up a new Constitution. Afraid that elected representatives might exercise the sovereignty of the people to produce a constitution to his dislike, Rawlings rejected that course of action. Instead, he created a Consultative Assembly, mainly consisting of his appointees, being those who had collaborated with him in brutalizing and looting the country. Furthermore, the body he constituted was only a AConsultative@ Assembly. It was merely advisory to Flight-Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings as Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council. It had no legitimacy in its own right and was not expressive of the sovereign power of the people to establish a constitution by themselves and for themselves. It was this body that eventually produced the constitution which, as amended by Rawlings according to his sole judgment, became the 1992 Constitution, the Constitution of the Fourth Republic.

Even with their sordid background, The Provisional National Defence Council (P.N.D.C.) handed over power to initiate civilian rule in 1992. Notwithstanding their bloody credentials, the P.N.D.C. and Jeremiah Rawlings crafted a fairly democratic constitution for civilian rule. Generally the 1992 Constitution has some good features. It created an executive President to be elected directly by universal adult suffrage. The President can choose some of his Cabinet Ministers from outside Parliament, but the majority of them must be Members of Parliament. Parliament itself is to be elected by individual constituencies on a majority of votes in each constituency. Proportional representation was rejected. An independent Judiciary was established as the third branch of government.

The 1992 Constitution addressed human rights issues, as military dictators of the P.N.D.C could not be absolutely certain about who might succeed them. Perhaps it was an instinctive exercise in self-preservation, as the dictators wanted to insulate themselves against the arbitrariness, brutality and repression that had been their stock in trade. The new Constitution, therefore, contains very important restrictions on the exercise of executive power. It contains express provisions that guarantee the rights to life, liberty and property, freedoms of speech, conscience, association and political belief, and it provides for a free press. It proscribes the creation of a one-party state. How would “Osagyefo” Dr. Kwame Nkrumah think of this type of excessive liberalism in a multi-party democracy? He would loath to live in such democracy!

The Consultative Assembly made some good proposals for the 1992 Constitution. However, as Rawlings regarded the draft proposals as merely advisory to him, he insisted on specific provisions to protect himself and his colleagues of the brutal and bloody dictatorship. These are innocuously hidden in a lengthy addendum to the approved text and referred to as ATransitional Provisions@. Normally, transitional provisions are by definition transitory and deal with interim matters arising out of the change from one regime to another. The Transitional Provisions of the Rawlings Constitution are, by contrast, permanent provisions written in concrete. While other parts, the operational parts of the Constitution, may be amended, the so-called ATransitional Provisions@ are so entrenched that amendments to them are virtually impossible.

The so-called Transitional Provisions are to the effect that no court has jurisdiction to entertain any action, or make any decision or order, or grant any remedy or relief, in any proceedings against the Government of Ghana, or any person acting under the authority of the government, or against any person acting in concert or individually to assist or bring about the change of government by Rawlings and his collaborators on the 31st December, 1981, the date of the coup d=etat, in respect of any act or omission The result is that Rawlings remains totally unaccountable for the atrocious violations of human rights. Those innocent citizens who were murdered or executed, who simply disappeared, or who were brutalized, permanently maimed and scarred, or who spent long periods in prison without trial, cannot by themselves or through their personal representatives seek any remedy or relief. This was the high price at which Rawlings condescended to allow a return to civilian rule. It signals for future military coup plotters that they can commit human rights violations with impunity.

The Present

Because of the sacrifices of Baffuor Osei Akoto and others after them, the prospects for democracy and for human rights are brighter today in Ghana. The present Constitution has provided elaborate guarantees for freedom in Ghana. We must now strive to maintain and advance the rule of law as our guarantee against any form of future dictatorship that may rear its ugly head.

Indeed, no nation can survive, let alone succeed, in the deliberate state of lawlessness. Ultimately, the Nation must re-discover its proper bearings and anchor the ship of state on the time-tested, solid foundations of legality and accountability. The countries of the world, which we regard as successful models, did not develop under the iron heels of military rule, or under dictatorship or totalitarianism. They are countries with long histories of liberal democracy. It is only in a free society that the genius of the people can flourish. It is only in a country with good governance that a sound economy can be developed and sustained. These values must be accepted by and spring from the will of the people.

In other words, having now succeeded in re-establishing for ourselves the right to constitutional, democratic rule, we must commit ourselves to defend our accepted ideals of good governance, constitutionalism and the rule of law. All the professions, but particularly the legal profession, must entrench, in their professional ethics, respect for the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights.

As a developing nation, we have had many years to define and establish our own structures of responsible government and national ideals. We can evolve our own acceptable system of government. It is true that we do not start from the proverbial tabula rasa or blank slate. We have over the years of colonial tutelage, albeit compulsory tutelage, become disciples and exponents of democratic rule. We do not have to necessarily conform to the Westminster model or the Washington paradigm. Indeed, it is primarily because of our blatant failures that we are often compared with other successful systems of government, in order to appreciate the degree of our deficiencies. We are a free people who can chart our own course of political independence, if only the military will remain in the barracks.

The Rule of Law

We are, as a people, in search of good governance. And there cannot be good governance unless there is established the principle of the rule of law.

Whether it is by choice or not, the rule of law has been the yearning of all peoples from all generations. Every society, when offered the opportunity, has rejected arbitrary rule which is by definition antithetical to the rule of law. Where a people have been subjugated under authoritarian or totalitarian rule, the apparent acceptance of the dictatorship has been a superficial strategy for survival, except, of course, for the few willing collaborators who find solace in their own pretensions to power and influence. When there is a crack in the wall of tyranny, the people always choose to reassert their desire for freedom and justice.

The rule of law means that the rights and responsibilities of the citizen are regulated and defined by pre-existing laws which satisfy minimum criteria of fairness and justice. The corollary to this is that the powers of the organs of government, and of those who are entrusted with public authority, are circumscribed and limited by the law. The necessary implication is that powers of government shall not be exercised arbitrarily. Therefore, the laws must respect the basic and essential humanity of citizens and must advance and protect their basic rights and freedoms. There must not be, as a matter of public policy, discrimination against any segment of the population on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, political belief, or religious persuasion. To achieve this end, the law must permit and encourage freedom of speech and of association, and other human rights, even if the exercise of these freedoms may on occasion be distasteful and irritating to those in authority.

By definition, therefore, the rule of law means limited government. The limitation applies to all the organs of state power, The rule of law implies a limitation on the legislative power of the state, in the sense that it may not enact pernicious legislation. For instance, if the legislature were to enact that all men over six feet tall must be beheaded, it would be an arbitrary and capricious piece of legislation. It would be a baseless statutory discrimination without any justifiable social purpose.

The notion of limited legislative power is of ancient vintage. Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and other earlier philosophers, held the view that certain prescriptions of the natural law are immutable and all good laws must conform to them. To the extent that human laws are inconsistent with or in contravention of the immutable law of God or nature, they are not laws and are not binding in conscience. Indeed they would urge that there is a duty to refuse to obey such laws, as no prince and no sovereign is empowered to enact such laws. Today we see these limitations on the legislative powers of the state as constitutional limitations. For example, Articles 3(1), 55(1), (2) and (3), and 56 of the 1992 Constitution explicitly provide that Parliament lacks the competence to enact legislation which may have the effect of creating a one-party state.

In other words, the adoption of the rule of law means that the powers of the legislature are restricted by a higher law, often derived from a higher precept which is to prevent arbitrary rule. In our own traditional Ghanaian communities, the chiefs and elders recognise that they are not competent to legislate against certain sacrosanct edicts and minimum standards of moral rectitude derived from the traditions of the ancestors and held by them to be sacred.

Whichever way we define it, the rule of law is not a static concept. It has been changing in content and scope, as well as effect, over generations and epochs in human history. In 1959, the International Commission of Jurists declared that the rule of law is a dynamic concept. This means that we must accept that the concept changes with the advance of human and social values. Nevertheless, it remains a concept by which good governance may be measured.

The Rule of Law Contrasted with Legality

There is often the confusing sophistry of interpreting the rule of law as implicit in legalism. This intellectual obfuscation must be resisted. It is true that there can hardly be the rule of law, unless the conduct of public officials conforms to the law. The test, however, is not whether a particular conduct or public act is legal. The question is whether the law, by virtue of which the action was taken, is a fair and just law of general application. When Herod, according to the Holy Writ, issued the edict that all male children under two years of age in Judea shall be beheaded, those who carried out the order were acting in a perfectly lawful manner; but neither the edict itself, nor those who carried out the executions, were acting in consonance with the principle of the rule of law. An arbitrary law issued ad hoc and ad hominem, targeted at a vulnerable sector of the population, violates the rule of law. When the Provisional National Defence Council ruled this country with arbitrary edicts, that was an era devoid of any pretension to the rule of law. Yes, the edicts were law; but they did not necessarily conform to the accepted principles of the rule of law.

In deciding whether there is a rule of law, we must examine critically the content and effect of the laws and the legal atmosphere created by the regime in power. Dictators are as notorious for their arbitrariness and sadism, as they are for their scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law, albeit law enacted to justify their own actions which they know or must know to be cruel and even sinful. Everything that Hitler did in Nazi Germany was perfectly legal because he manipulated the law and the legal system to become instruments for oppression. When Kwame Nkrumah imprisoned his political opponents indefinitely without trial and without a right of access to the courts, he was acting legally.

His denial of the basic human rights to Ghanaians was lawful because his power was derived from the notorious Preventive Detention Act. That Act conferred on himself the power to be at the same time the accuser, the judge and jury in his own cause. That sort of legality did not even remotely approximate to the rule of law. It was naked tyranny. Revisionists of today may re-package the facts and may try to re-write history. Some may even invoke nebulous national security concerns to justify such arbitrary rule that authorised imprisonment of citizens without trial; but that era of our young history was not a period of the rule of law.

The Role of the Judiciary

For good governance we need Judges who are not afraid to make pronouncements on the law as they see it. This is why Judges have their tenure guaranteed by our present Constitution. Very often the Judge is an arbiter between the citizen and the government. The citizen expects the Judge to hold the scales evenly between him and the all-powerful State. If the powerful State and the powerful organs of State power are not constrained within constitutional bounds, tyrannical rule, and not good governance, develops. That is why the Judge must be prepared to declare the rights of the citizen, even if such a judgment is distasteful to the Executive arm of government. A timid Judge is an embarrassment to the profession. The courts must enforce the law, no matter whose ox is gored. Justice must be done, even if the heavens fall. And justice must be seen to be done.

The role of the Judiciary in this process will continue to be crucial. A good constitution still needs an independent and vibrant judiciary to enforce the provisions of the constitution. One of responsibilities, therefore, must be to support the judiciary to be an effective bulwark against any attempts at the erosion of our freedoms. This responsibility rests on all Ghanaians. People in positions of power today must expand the frontiers of our freedoms and guarantee the independence of our judges. History shows that when persons who were once in power cede power to others, the only protection for their lives and liberty will emanate from the judiciary. It is, therefore, in nobody’s interest to emasculate the judiciary for expediencies of the moment.

The present Constitution guarantees our freedoms. Article 3(1) of the Constitution provides that “Parliament shall have no power to enact a law establishing a one-party state.” Article 3(2) expatiates on this provision with the declaration that any activity which seeks to suppress the lawful political activity of any other person is unlawful. Furthermore, Article 21(3) reinforces this right with the provision that “All citizens shall have the right and freedom to form or join political parties and participate in political activities…” Article 21(1) also guarantees the freedom of speech of Ghanaians. Nkrumah must be turning in his grave, as his legacies have been shattered by Ghanaians. These provisions bind also the government of the day and its officials.

It is, therefore, unlikely that we can return to the Nkrumah days of legalised suppression of opposing political views and the creation of a one-party state. This demolishes and ensures the burial of the “great” achievement of “Osagyefo” which was the one-party sate. Even if Nkrumah were to be resurrected from his grave today, he cannot re-impose a one-party state. The Nkrumaists may be very unhappy with this guarantee of our freedoms; but the majority of Ghanaians have embraced it. Nkrumah has died and our freedoms survive.

Unlike the days of Nkrumah, Article 14(1) of the 1992 Constitution provides in very clear terms that "Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty.” Under this provision, detention without trial, such as under the Preventive Detention Act, has been forbidden. Now a person can only be deprived of his liberty in execution of an order of a competent court. except for the special cases of infectious or contagious diseases.

Article 14 (3) also provides that a person arrested, restricted or detained for the suspicion of a crime “shall be brought before a court within forty-eight hours after the arrest.” Any law which would have the effect of derogating from this provision would be void for unconstitutionality. Therefore, there cannot now be enacted a Preventive Detention Act which Kwame Nkrumah imposed upon this country and which presumably those advocating Nkrumaism would welcome back.


The preceding discussions show that Baffuor Osei Akoto who suffered imprisonment without trial did not suffer in vain. Neither did Dr. J. B. Danquah who had championed their cause and the cause of freedom for all in court. History will remember the contributions they have made so that democracy, freedom and justice may survive in Ghana. Those who take for granted the present freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and all the other fundamental human rights, must be reminded that they have been attained as a result of the sufferings of many defenders of truth and justice.

To understand this, we must again and again recall for public information and pertinent reminder, the horrendous days of Nkrumah. The public must understand and appreciate, and so make an informed appraisal, of what it would mean to impose Nkrumaism again on Ghana. This is relevant because there are still loud voices advocating the re-introduction of Nkrumaism. Our schools must teach the true history of the repression of the years past, so that the younger generation of Ghanaians may be fully knowledgeable of what our country had been through. If we do not do this, charlatans will mislead the people again.

Time was when our children were indoctrinated that “Nkrumah never dies.” We now know that he has died. More importantly for the future of our nation, Nkrumah’s ideological pretensions have also died with him. When we note in Article 3(1) and other parts of our Constitution that Parliament cannot make any law to establish a one-party state, we know that Nkrumah has died. When we read the guarantees of personal freedoms, including the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, enshrined in our Constitution, we know that Nkrumah has died. When we observe the free speech and the freedom of our press, we know that Nkrumah is dead. He is dead and buried, and his corrupting ideas of repression are lying buried securely with his bones in his grave, never to rise again.

Nobody has ever pretended to blaspheme that Baffuor Osei Akoto never dies. Baffuor Osei Akoto is dead, and that is why we are commemorating the 10th anniversary of his return to his Maker. And may his soul rest in perfect peace.

Although Baffuor Osei Akoto is dead, the case of Re Akoto is not dead and can never die. When we read in our Constitution the guarantees of freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech and of association, we know that Re Akoto is alive. It is to the endurance and the suffering of Baffuor Osei Akoto and others that we owe our freedoms of today.

Source: http://baffuorakoto.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51:lecture-by-prof-justice-a-k-p-kludze&catid=36:lectures&Itemid=54, date accessed, 09 February 2015



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