Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow. Justice F.P. Sarkodie. Justice K.A. Agyepong. Major Sam Acquah. These four names will forever be etched in the fabric of Ghana’s history following the atrocious acts that claimed their lives on June 30, 1982. They were abducted, killed and burned because they were high court judges.
Twenty years after their death, in 2002, the government of Ghana established the National Reconciliation Commission with the intent to help people find truth and cope with human rights abuse cases they suffered during military rule.
But Senior Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Seidu Alidu argues that the NRC did not do enough.
“I don’t think that the NRC dealt with issues of human rights abuses holistically. If you look at it, it was systematic,” he told Daniel Dadzie on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Thursday.
At the time of the murders, the military leaders failed to institute the rule of law and justice, Alidu added. But he did recognize that authorities may not have had the power to govern in the way they wanted because of scant resources.
So when the NRC was launched, there were high expectations. But those hopes dissipated rather quickly, he said, arguing that “commissions are not just about being established but about implementing the recommendations that put them in place to begin with.”
Meanwhile, member of the Council of State and lawyer, Sam Okudzeto, insisted that former President Jerry Rawlings should apologize for the “mess” that ensued following the mysterious deaths of three prominent Ghanaian judges and a retired army officer in 1982.
“There was absolute lawlessness in the country,” Okudzeto told Daniel Dadzie on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday. “The best thing you can do for your country is to always follow the rule of law.”
Member of the Council of State and lawyer Sam Okudzeto
On Tuesday evening, Joy News aired the much-anticipated documentary “Who Killed the Judges,” a 90-minute film detailing the killings of the judges.
In the documentary, Brigadier General Nunoo Mensah (retd) recounts audio recordings of a man claiming that the top ranks of Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) ordered for the killing of the judges. In the recordings, one of those convicted and shot for the murders, Joachin Amartey Kwei is heard repeatedly crying, “I have done a wrongful act. I have done a wrongful act,” adding that, “I carried out the instructions that were given to me.”
Sam Okudzeto, who practised law at the time of the killings, admitted that “I cannot say that Jerry Rawlings was the one who ordered the murders.”
The three judges who were slain on the night of June 30, 1982.
He did, however, state that neither politics nor parties should cloud the judicial system. Following the judges’ deaths on June 30, the nation has proclaimed as Martyrs Day. That day, he said, should serve as a reminder for judges to remain resolute in their quest for justice.
”It is also a reminder to lawyers that it is not just judges, but we are all a part of the judicial process. We are God’s instruments to justice and law. That is our responsibility and we should never regelate from that.”
He also advised that Ghanaians – here and abroad – must be held accountable for understanding their history so that “it does not repeat itself.”
Quoting a verse in the Bible, he forewarned that “lack of knowledge will cause people to perish.”
He continued: The murders were “evil and heinous. We must remind ourselves that these judges were collected from their homes and murdered because they were doing their jobs.”
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