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Why Nigeria’s Obasanjo Threatened To Cut Gas Supplies To Ghana In 1979

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As a form of expression of its disgust against the shooting of the military generals in 1979, the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of then General Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Ogunboye Aremu Obasanjo threatened to cut gas supply to Ghana which had Jerry John Rawlings as head of state.

The angst of Nigeria and its leader against the gruesome killings of military generals, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, FWK Why Nigeria threatened to cut gas supplies to Ghana in 1979.

In a bid to register their disgust over the shooting of the military generals in 1979, the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of then military ruler, General Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Ogunboye Aremu Obasanjo threatened to cut gas supply to Ghana which at the time was led by Jerry John Rawlings as head of state.

The angst of Nigeria and its leader Obasanjo to the gruesome killings of the military generals, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, FWK Akuffo, AA Afrifa, and Utuka, among others in 1979 was captured in the book titled ‘The Trial of JJ Rawlings”.

The book which was written by the venerable Kojo Yankah captures a letter by the National Union of Ghana Students, NUGS, to the governments of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo criticizing their condemnation of the actions of the Rawlings regime.

“We condemn the threats allegedly issued by the Obasanjo government in Nigeria to cut off supplies to Ghana. The clean up exercise here had set a new precedent in African Politics. The pleas of the Paris-teleguided governments in Ivory Coast, Togo and Upper Volta also show the depth of their hypocrisy and how unfair they’ve been to the suffering people of Ghana.

“When our timber, cocoa, gold, rice, maize and essential imported communities were being smuggled to these countries by the few local enemies of the people of Ghana, these ‘good neighbours’ of ours actively collaborated with them”, parts of the statement read.

The book also highlights the response of the United Kingdom under Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to the killing of the military generals.

Margaret Thatcher, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is reported to have indicated her ‘abhorrence’ to the execution of the military generals and said that she had been in touch with US, Canada, and members of the European Economic Community to make representations to the Ghana government about their disdain for the murder of leaders of the deposed military regime.

About June 4 Revolution

The June 4 Revolution, otherwise known as June 4th Uprising was incited by the arrest and trial of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and other junior military officers by the leadership of the Supreme Military Council II (SMC II). Jerry John Rawlings and the junior officers were arrested and charged with mutiny for a failed coup attempt on the 15th of May, 1979.

Jerry John Rawlings cited a number of reasons for the failed coup attempt on 15th May, 1979. Firstly, the junior military officers, including Jerry John Rawlings, were refused salaries on countless occasions. Also on the broader scale, issues of widespread corruption among Supreme Military Council officials, poor governance, economic hardship and general frustration on the part of populace as well as high levels of indiscipline within the Ghana Army were among the issues highlighted.

One of the main architects of the uprising, Major Boakye Djan, has in later interviews revealed that they deliberately added a political twist to it to help emancipate the whole of Africa. According to Osahene Boakye Djan, after several secret meetings with John Rawlings, the team decided to establish a secret movement known as the Free Africa Movement (FAM) to drive the uprising. Boakye Gyan noted that although Nkrumah fought for the liberation of the whole African continent, Africa still appeared to be under the rule and control of the colonial masters. Boakye Gyan mentions in an interview that though Ghana was independent, the country was not free enough to determine the prices of cash crops like cocoa and other commodities hence the movement.

Trial Day

Prior to the trial was the failed coup attempt by Rawlings and some junior officers on the 15th of May, 1979. On the morning of the day of the coup, there was exchange of fire between the coup plotters and officers of the SMC II. It took the effort and bravery of one senior military officer, Major General Odartey Willington to get to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to announce that the attempted coup by junior officers of the force had been foiled.

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He, Major-General Odartey Willington, one Major Sulemana, other military officers who embarked on the said action at GBC were subsequently rewarded by the SMC II government and Rawlings and the junior officers arrested for trial.

The trial of Rawlings and the Junior officers took place at Burma Hall in Accra. On the day of the trial, as ABC News Ghana gathers, thousands of civilians trooped into the hall to witness the trial. The president of the military tribunal was Col. Aninful and the prosecutor for the state was Flt. Lt. Atiemo.

Rawlings was asked if he wanted a separate trial. His response was “I want to be with my men,” a comment which sparked wild applause in the hall.

Rawlings was found guilty by the tribunal and was imprisoned in a “guardroom”. It was during this time that all his ten fingers were severely damaged.

A key point in the trial was when Jerry Rawlings turned the tables and began accusing the government of massive corruption. He demanded his colleagues accused of aiding him in the treasonable act be set free insisting that he was solely responsible for the attempted coup.

On the day of 4th June, 1979

As has been stated earlier, Rawlings was found guilty and imprisoned in a guardroom. Two weeks later, on the night of June 4th, Captain Boakye Djan led other officers to overthrow the SMC II government and released Rawlings from prison. He was then sent to GBC and the government overthrow was announced. Rawlings was made to speak to allay fears of his death as had been earlier rumoured.

Notable on the day was a display by Major-General Odartey Willington. He entered an armoured car and single-handedly shot for three continuous hours. When he ran out of cartridges, he dashed to the Nima Police Station to surrender.

Unfortunately, he was killed on the spot by military officers immediately he came out of the armoured truck. He was given a somewhat befitting burial by Rawlings.

That incident marked the beginning of the uprising.

After the incident, all military installations were searched and senior military officers who were on the side of the SMC II were killed. It was on the same day that Col. Aninful, the president of the military tribunal that tried Rawlings and the junior officers on 15th May was killed. His wife and children who were also in the same room were shot. Many sympathizers of the previous government fled the country to seek asylum elsewhere.

The coup plotters then set up the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The membership was as follows;

Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings – Chairman
Captain Boakye Gyan – Official Spokesperson
Major Mensah Gbedemah
Lt Commander Akpaloo
Warrant Officer 2 Obeng
Private Owusu Adu
Corporal Owusu Boateng
Leading Air Craftsman Gaktipo
Lance Corporal Ansah Atiemo among other people.
The Aftermath of the Revolution

The regime introduced what become known as the “House Cleaning Exercise”. The House cleaning exercise was mainly against corruption. Three former military leaders of Ghana, Lt. Gen. Afrifa, Gen. Acheampong and Lt. Gen. Akuffo were all executed together with five other senior officers deemed to have been corrupt by the Special Courts set up by the government. That was when the infamous slogan “let the blood flow” originated. Supporters of the regime used this slogan to rally military support in killing sympathizers of the previous regime who were deemed corrupt.

Numerous business entrepreneurs were also targeted and had their assets confiscated by the government.

Critics of the regime note that the period witnessed high levels of indiscipline among the junior officers towards senior officers and civilians. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) soon lost control of the soldiers who had gone on rampage. There was total breakdown of law and order, a situation which led to arbitrary arrests, beatings, abductions, killings, detentions, and seizure of money and personal property by soldiers.

The AFRC ruled from June 1979 to September 1979. Power was handed to Dr. Hilla Limann in September 1979. But Rawlings again overthrew Limann on 31st December 1981. Though June 4 became a noted date in Ghana’s history, it has been said to be a date that brings a lot of pain to people who either lost loved ones, lost businesses or had to flee the country for their dear lives, AA Afrifa, and Utuka, among others in 1979 was captured in the book titled ‘The Trial of JJ Rawlings”.

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The book which was written by the venerable Kojo Yankah captures a letter by the National Union of Ghana Students to the governments of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo over their condemnation of the actions by Rawlings and his military cohorts.

“We condemn the threats allegedly issued by the Obasanjo government in Nigeria to cut off supplies to Ghana. The clean-up exercise here had set a new precedent in African Politics. The pleas of the Paris-teleguided governments in Ivory Coast, Togo and Upper Volta also show the depth of their hypocrisy and how unfair they’ve been to the suffering people of Ghana.

“When our timber, cocoa, gold, rice, maize and essential imported communities were being smuggled to these countries by the few local enemies of the people of Ghana, these ‘good neighbours’ of ours actively collaborated with them”, parts of the statement read.

The book also highlights the response of the United Kingdom under Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to the killing of the military generals.

Margaret Thatcher, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is reported to have indicated her ‘abhorrence’ to the execution of the military generals and said that she had been in touch with US, Canada, and members of the European Economic Community to make representations to the Ghana government about their disdain for the murder of the deposed military regime.

 

About June 4 Revolution

The June 4 Revolution, otherwise known as June 4th Uprising was incited by the arrest and trial of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and other junior military officers by the leadership of the Supreme Military Council II (SMC II). Jerry John Rawlings and the junior officers were arrested and charged with mutiny for a failed coup attempt on the 15th of May, 1979.

Jerry John Rawlings cited a number of reasons for the failed coup attempt on 15th May, 1979. Firstly, the junior military officers, including Jerry John Rawlings, were refused salaries on countless occasions. Also on the broader scale, issues of widespread corruption among Supreme Military Council officials, poor governance, economic hardship and general frustration on the part of populace as well as high levels of indiscipline within the Ghana Army were among the issues highlighted.

One of the main architects of the uprising, Major Boakye Djan, has in recent times revealed that they deliberately added a political twist to it to help emancipate the whole of Africa. According to Osahene Boakye Djan, after several secret meetings with John Rawlings, the team decided to establish a secret movement known as the Free Africa Movement (FAM) to drive the uprising. Boakye Gyan noted that although Nkrumah fought for the liberation of the whole African continent, Africa still appeared to be under the rule and control of the colonial masters. Boakye Gyan mentions in an interview that though Ghana was independent, the country was not free enough to determine the prices of cash crops like cocoa and other commodities hence the movement.

 

Trial Day

Prior to the trial was the failed coup attempt by Rawlings and some junior officers on the 15th of May, 1979. On the morning of the day of the coup, there was exchange of fire between the coup plotters and officers of the SMC II. It took the effort and bravery of one senior military officer, Major General Odartey Willington to get to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to announce that the attempted coup by junior officers of the force had been foiled.

He, Major-General Odartey Willington, one Major Sulemana, other military officers who embarked on the said action at GBC were subsequently rewarded by the SMC II government and Rawlings and the junior officers arrested for trial.

The trial of Rawlings and the Junior officers took place at Burma Hall in Accra. On the day of the trial, as ABC News Ghana gathers, thousands of civilians trooped into the hall to witness the trial. The president of the military tribunal was Col. Aninful and the prosecutor for the state was Flt. Lt. Atiemo.

Rawlings was asked if he wanted a separate trial. His response was “I want to be with my men,” a comment which sparked wild applause in the hall.

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Rawlings was found guilty by the tribunal and was imprisoned in a “guardroom”. It was during this time that all his ten fingers were severely damaged.

A key point in the trial was when Jerry Rawlings turned the tables and began accusing the government of massive corruption. He demanded his colleagues accused of aiding him in the treasonable act be set free insisting that he was solely responsible for the attempted coup.

On the day of 4th June, 1979

As has been stated earlier, Rawlings was found guilty and imprisoned in a guardroom. Two weeks later, on the night of June 4th, Captain Boakye Djan led other officers to overthrow the SMC II government and released Rawlings from prison. He was then sent to GBC and the government overthrow was announced. Rawlings was made to speak to allay fears of his death as had been earlier rumoured.

Notable on the day was a display by Major-General Odartey Willington. He entered an armoured car and single-handedly shot for three continuous hours. When he ran out of cartridges, he dashed to the Nima Police Station to surrender.

Unfortunately, he was killed on the spot by military officers immediately he came out of the armoured truck. He was given a somewhat befitting burial by Rawlings.

That incident marked the beginning of the uprising.

After the incident, all military installations were searched and senior military officers who were on the side of the SMC II were killed. It was on the same day that Col. Aninful, the president of the military tribunal that tried Rawlings and the junior officers on 15th May was killed. His wife and children who were also in the same room were shot. Many sympathizers of the previous government fled the country to seek asylum elsewhere.

The coup plotters then set up the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The membership was as follows;

Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings – Chairman
Captain Boakye Gyan – Official Spokesperson
Major Mensah Gbedemah
Lt Commander Akpaloo
Warrant Officer 2 Obeng
Private Owusu Adu
Corporal Owusu Boateng
Leading Air Craftsman Gaktipo
Lance Corporal Ansah Atiemo among other people.
The Aftermath of the Revolution

The regime introduced what become known as the “House Cleaning Exercise”. The House cleaning exercise was mainly against corruption. Three former military leaders of Ghana, Lt. Gen. Afrifa, Gen. Acheampong and Lt. Gen. Akuffo were all executed together with five other senior officers deemed to have been corrupt by the Special Courts set up by the government. That was when the infamous slogan “let the blood flow” originated. Supporters of the regime used this slogan to rally military support in killing sympathizers of the previous regime who were deemed corrupt.

Numerous business entrepreneurs were also targeted and had their assets confiscated by the government.

Critics of the regime note that the period witnessed high levels of indiscipline among the junior officers towards senior officers and civilians. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) soon lost control of the soldiers who had gone on rampage. There was total breakdown of law and order, a situation which led to arbitrary arrests, beatings, abductions, killings, detentions, and seizure of money and personal property by soldiers.

The AFRC ruled from June 1979 to September 1979. Power was handed to Dr. Hilla Limann in September 1979. But Rawlings again overthrew Limann on 31st December 1981. Though June 4 became a noted date in Ghana’s history, it has been said to be a date that brings a lot of pain to people who either lost loved ones, lost businesses or had to flee the country for their dear lives

 

 

 

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Source:  GhanaWeb

 

 

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