It’s 39 years today: Still, who killed the Judges and the Military Officer?

Date:

It still remains a mystery who killed the three High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer on the night of March 30th 1982. The gruesome act occurred some three months into Jerry Rawlings’ revolution of December 31st, 1981. He termed his second coming: “The Holy War or Jihad”.

Rawlings had been released from the jaws of death by Captain Boakye-Djan and other young officers from a court-martialed jail to lead the June 4th, 1979 uprising, later to be named the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).

The AFRC handed over power to a constitutionally elected government of Dr. Hilla Limann’s People’s National Party (PNP) on September 24th, 1979. But Rawlings toppled Limann after some 27 months into the PNP government.

On the fateful night of 30th March, 1982, Justices Poku Sarkodie, Cecilia Koranteng Addo, Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong and Major Sam Acquah, (R’td) were abducted in their respective homes and murdered in cold blood at Bundase Military Range, a suburb of Accra. In the case of Mrs. Koranteng Addo, she was nursing a baby.

These were brilliant judges who were set for promotion to the Appeal Court. Justice Koranteng Addo’s husband, Gustav Koranteng Addo was an Appeal Court judge himself. Major Sam Acquah was the former personnel manager of GIHOC Ghana Limited, where a member of the AFRC, Amartey Kwei worked.

The ghastly act was carried out by some young militias of the Ghana Army at the time. They included the leader of the gang, Sergeant Amedeka, Corporals Nsorowuo, Gomeloshio, Tetteh Gyandu and Tekpor.


A Special Investigation Board (SIB) presided over by renowned jurist, Justice Azu Crabbe was set up to investigate the gruesome act. It emerged from the SIB report that the three judges were perceived by PNDC operatives as enemies of the revolution.

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According to the SIB, Amedeka tried to find out from the judges what they thought about the revolution and particularly, the role of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who later in the investigations served as the lead counsel for Captain Tsikata.

Justice Koranteng Addo then replied that although Tsatsu was a brilliant chap, his involvement with the PNDC cast a slur on his professional integrity. That answer was enough for Amedeka and co to confirm what they’ve been fed with–that the three judges were enemies of the revolution.

They were also marked out as enemies because they retrial cases and people who were convicted by the kangaroo tribunals that were set up by the AFRC in 1979. Most of the people were freed because these trail judges opined that their convictions were not fair and in accordance with due process.

In the case of Major Sam Acquah, the SIB alluded to the fact he dismissed Joachim Amartey Kwei for inciting, instigating riot and strike against his (Major Acquah-led) administration at GIHOC Ghana Limited.

So such aggrieved parties took advantage of the revolution to exact their pound of flesh. It was therefore not surprising that the SIB found some PNDC members either culpable or complicit.

The chief culprit was Joachim Amartey Kwei, a Trade Unionist and a member of the PNDC. Another top PNDC member who the SIB indicted, was Captain Kojo Tsikata, the National Security Adviser of the PNDC. However, a government white paper issued by then Attorney General, G.E.K Aikins on the SIB report exonerated Captain Kojo Tsikata as an accomplice.

Later, as Amartey Kwei was tied to the sticks to be executed, he apologized for implicating Captain Tsikata during the trial. That was the last words or findings that Rawlings exacted from the dying man.

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And the assumption is, at that moment, Kwei would be communicating with his inner soul and spirit in a transition from the worldly order to the purified realm; and so would be compulsively truthful at that material time.

Since then, the theories have been flying all over with some activists of the revolution pointing out that Rawlings and wife could be possible accomplices. These came out at the National Reconciliation Commission.

Witnesses like Adawuga, Chris Archer and others opined that the former first family could not escape being implicated. Another person who would have helped to get to the core of the matter, Sergeant Amedeka escaped jail and run away.

He was sentenced to death in absentia and had been hiding in Cote d’Ivoire and other neigbouring West African countries. Amedeka was the leader of the special operation that night and the running question has been who issued him the pass order to carry out the operation during the curfew hours?

That operation curfew pass, as disclosed by Adawuga at the National Reconciliatory Commission, and confirmed by other Rawlings operatives, can only be issued at the hours that the four were picked, with an express permission of then National Security Adviser, Captain Tsikata.

The military operatives who carried out the operation, according to various accounts at the National Reconciliation, were known errand boys of Captain Tsikata and that also offer an interesting twist to the case.

Then the issue of the vehicles used for the operation. Who sanctioned or approved of the Fiat Campagnola vehicles that were used for the operation? Chief Superintendent Yidana, who investigated the murder wrote in his report that the keys to the vehicles were collected from the home of the Rawlingses by Amedeka.

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It’s believed that was the reason C/S J.J. Yidana was thrown behind bars during the trial of the case. As someone with such deep insight into the matter, the fear was that he might state a contrary view to what the PNDC has thrown out into the public domain.

Certainly there are two core issues to the matter: that the judges were enemies of the revolution, because they superintended over the re-trail of the cases prosecuted by the kangaroo courts, established by the AFRC; and so needed to pay for their “sins”.

Then the personal matter of Amartei Kwei’s dealing with the man he believed caused him to lose his job. So what then could be the motivation for Kwei to include in his personal hatred for Major Sam Acquah, the three judges?

Was it that as we’ve been made aware all this while, that the real abductors were the judges and that Amartey Kwei decided to include his former boss just to settle old scores? If that is the case then, what was Kwei’s motivation to kill the judges?

If Kwei just took advantage of the plot, then who was the originator of the real murder plot? Juxtapose that to the fate the befell others who were also perceived as enemies of the revolution. Most of these “enemies” like the four victims, were also killed mysteriously. Such cases were not made public because of the ordinary status of the victims.

In all of these, there is a living soul called Sergeant Amedeka, who with age and time may decide to speak the truth one day. He is still alive, finding it difficult to settle in his home country, Ghana.

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