The son of the late Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa, one of the soldiers who were killed for their attempt to overthrow Jerry John Rawlings in 1983, has spoken about how close he was to harming the former Head of State in 2008.
Issah Mahama, speaking for the first time publicly about his father’s murder in 1984, explained that when he was a teacher-trainee in Bimbilla in 2008, the late former president came to their school to campaign.
He said that while there, he got so close to the former president so much that all the thoughts that were running through his head were for him to find a stone and hurl it at Jerry Rawlings.
“My mind was to become a soldier to retaliate. Back at E.P. College of Education, Bimbila, in 2008, Rawlings was there for campaign; he came to our school. That day, if it wasn’t because of something… I thought of two things: if I react, and as at that time, I didn’t know my people because I got to know my family in 2012 officially, so all this while, I was with my maternal side.
“So, in 2008, when Rawlings was in my school, in front of us, I was there and I was in state of a dilemma. I wanted to react, like get up, get a stone and stone him. And something came to my mind; if you do this, your parents struggled to pay your fees and if I do this and I am killed here, and my late father’s parents are not aware of me, and if I even reacted, what benefit would I derive from it? So, I was just contemplating: should I react, or I should just cool myself down and then allow him to talk his rubbish and go?” he said.
Issah Mahama further explained that although later in his life, he let go of the pains and hurts of having lost his father that way, he could never deny the fact that he intensely hated the late Jerry John Rawlings so much that he could not even afford to watch him on television.
He was, however, quick to state that at the death of the former president, he felt really bad about it.
“For me, to be frank, anytime those days that I see Rawlings on TV, I only become pissed off. It’s a fact, if I see him on TV, I switch to another station. The day I heard of his demise, I felt bad because a time came and I allowed bygones to be bygones and I said peace must reign…” he added.
The gruesome murder of Lance Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa and Lance Corporal Sarkodie Addo:
The following narration is made available via African-research.com:
On 19th June 1983 a group of disgruntled soldiers led by a close ally of then Chairman Rawlings tried to stage a Coup d’etat against the PNDC regime because they believed Rawlings was preaching virtue and practicing vice.
The rebellious soldiers were led by Lance Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa and Sergeant Abdul Malik of the Ghana Army. (Southern Command)
Daniel Alolga Akata Pore was among them.
He was a member of the Provisional National Defence Council which ruled Ghana following the military coup d’état on 31 December 1981.
He was arrested along with others including Tata Ofosu, editor of the June Four Movement’s paper The Workers’ Banner and Kwame Pianim on 23 November 1982 following the capture of part of Gondar Barracks, Burma Camp in a botched coup attempt.
He remained in custody until 19 June 1983, when he among with others escaped from custody during another coup attempt led by Sergeant Abdul Malik and Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa.
He went into exile in London, United Kingdom, following his escape.
What Happened on June 19, 1983?
Prison escapees with the help of Ghanaian soldiers stationed at Togo infiltrated Ghana, fought their way into GBC and announce the toppling of the Rawlings led PNDC Government.
A couple of hours later, loyal PNDC forces led by then Captain Courage Quashigah fought their way back into GBC studios and announced that the Coup d’état has been foiled.
The Giwa and Malik coup failed because they failed to follow instructions.
At the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) one of the soldiers from Togo wanted to read the “take over” statement on air but Giwa was scared he will declare it for himself and get support so he stopped him.
So Giwa read it himself thereby exposing himself because those after them knew his voice.
Sadly they run out of ammunitions.
So they group made a tactical withdrawal and moved out.
Two bold men were now leading the team, Lieutenant colonel Ekow Dennis and the audacious Tony Tekpor.
They drove to the amunitions depo in Accra and started shooting into the air.
All the soldiers there hid and many run away.
The picked some arms and moved to the Ghana Military Academy to pick more arms.
It was there that they heard GBC has been retaken by Quashiga and his group.
But Tekpor and the others were undaunted! They drove to the Nsawam prisons and by 3pm they were there.
As usual, they announced their presence there by shooting into the air.
The inmates who were expecting them earlier had given up but their hopes were back for a jail break.
Tekpor and his accomplices spent half an hour shooting prison locks.
When they entered one of them shot the prison warden who died instantly.
Many were injured inside including Chris Asher who was being detained there too.
That day he was freed and he escaped to Côté d’ivoire.
Gyandu (who together with Amedeka were involved in the murder of the judges) was released.
Yes! Amedeka was released too.
These hardcore soldiers were breaking jail because intelligence from the Castle leaked (many of these soldiers were saboteurs in disguise… You plan with them it gets leaked) that they were to be killed!
Four hours after Captain Courage Quashiga made his GBC announcement, they released their friends and headed to Accra in three cars.
They were 52 in number.
Upon reaching a barrier they were stopped by police but Tekpor and his accomplices overpowered them, took their weapons and drove off.
Unbeknownst to them, the police officers stationed there had walkie talkies so they made an emergency call to the armored squadron at the Police Depo at Tesano.
Two armored tanks suddenly approached them.
Later a chopper was flying over them ready to strike.
Projecting what was to come, many of the escapees took to fright and fled the scene.
Tekpor, captain Owu, Abu Baba, Alhassan and Amedeka faced their enemies and fought hard.
This was the famous “Apenkwa Faceoff”…
The fugitives prevailed but went their separate ways.
After this strange victory they realised they were too small to go to GBC to make any announcement.
So the group split.
Tekpor, Amedeka, Gyandu and Alhassan drove to Sukura, a suburb of Accra.
Captain Owu escaped to the Ivory Coast.
Ex Warrant Officer Abu Baba, Gyandu, Alhassan and others quickly drove off too and found themselves at Dansoman.
They hid in the ceiling of an uncompleted building.
Somebody gave the police tipoff on their hideout.
Even worse was that many of those who were hiding there took part in the November 23, 1982 coup attempt.
A helicopter fired into the building and one Officer, lieutenant Achanan died instantly.
Abu Baba was seriously wounded.
Tekpor and Gyandu were later arrested and executed but Amedeka escaped!
Alhassan was also arrested, taken to the Castle and never to be seen again!
So What Happened to Giwa and Sarkodie Addo?
The brave Giwa and others escaped to Côté d’ivoire where they met Chris Asher and Adomako Nyamekye.
Now (flashback) during the take over at GBC, Amedeka who was head of security at GBC made it easy for the imposing Giwa to read his takeover announcement of the Rawlings regime on air.
Giwa was even bare cheated! At the studios of GBC during the hasty invasion.
His statement was written by Chris Asher the erudite Soldier, Lawyer, Chief and Journalist.
(Back in Cote D’Ivoire).
Adomako Nyamekye advised both Giwa and Sarkodie Addo not to return to Ghana else they will surely be caught and killed!
But these die hard soldiers were foolhardy!
wet in the ears and were even willing to reconcile with Chairman Rawlings.
Because they had information Rawlings had forgiven them and wanted them back so they rule Ghana together.
So they came to Ghana and we’re quickly arrested after some whistle blowing soldiers (who visited them in the Ivory Coast as friends) blew the lid on them!
It was a trap! And they walked into it!
Giwa and Sarkodie (these were part of the special junior officers who helped save Rawlings in May 1979 and made sure he became Chairman of the AFRC and later PNDC) were sent to the Air force base at Teshie for questioning.
There they were killed for trying to depose Rawlings.
Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa and Lance Corporal Sarkodie Addo was brutally riddled with bullets and later mutilated.
The chilling event was filmed!
Efforts to get those tapes have been a subject of controversy since the days of the National Reconciliation Commission.
The late Rawlings himself claims those videos were not with him but his late bodyguard RSM Tetteh.
Lebanese friend of Rawlings, Riad who according to Rawlings had better camera and video equipments in those days (even better than GBC) was allowed to accompany them and film events also had possession of that murder on tape.
But he has denied ever having any tapes or filming people when he appeared before the NRC in 2003/4.
So Giwa and Sarkodie were mutilated and their bodies were dumped in unknown locations.
During their brutal execution at the Airforce base, Giwa (covered in blood) said:
“You can kill me and destroy my body but several Giwas are coming after me who will deal with you….”
In March 2003, two widows and the father of Lance Corporal Sarkodie Addo appealed to the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to help establish the whereabouts of their beloved.
They urged the commission to also find out his grave, and the circumstances leading to his death to enable the family to perform the necessary funeral rites.
The widows, Madam Yaa Adjei and Emelia Ampomah and their father in-law, Mr Christopher Sarkodie, made the appeal when they took turns at the hearings of the commission to make a petition of disappearance to the commission.
They were all agrieved that L/Cpl Sarkodie Addo, a product of the Junior Leaders Company in Kumasi, popularly known as Boys Company, was a member of the AFRC and later went on a scholarship offered by the Limann Administration to the United States of America to study after the handing over.
They also said on his return to Ghana from the USA, the Chairman of the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, invited him to join the PNDC but he turned that offer down.
They said the explanation he gave for turning down the offer was that during the handing over to the Limann Administration, the soldiers pledged never to interfere in democratic governance of the country again.
The witnesses said the last time they heard from him was when he visited them variously at Asamankese, his hometown, and Kumasi, and expressed fears that he might be killed for refusing to join the PNDC.
Madam Adjei told the commission that as part of the scholarship, she and their only daughter travelled to the USA to join him but she later returned to Ghana to attend to her sick mother.
She said her husband went on the programme with his colleagues, namely L/Cpl Atiemo, WOII Obeng, Cpl Owusu Boateng and Private Owusu Adu.
She said one day they heard on radio that Sarkodie Addo had been executed alongside Giwa and others.
Madam Adjei broke down and wept when she was asked how the disappearance of her husband had affected her and their daughter.
However, she managed to say, amidst tears, that life has not been easy for them.
Mr Christopher Sarkodie, father of Corporal Sarkodie, said until the Editor of the Crusading Guide, Mr Kweku Baako Jnr, disclosed at the NRC that Sarkodie was dead, no member of the family was aware.
He said ever since the disclosure, his wife has been crying, sometimes refusing to return from the farm.
He told the commission that he did not bother to check from the PNDC the whereabouts of his son because he realised that Flt Lt Rawlings was a tiger.
Mr Sarkodie said although his son had once introduced him to Flt Lt Rawlings, he feared to go near him, especially when his son had rejected an offer from him.
On her part, Madam Ampomah disclosed that she got to know that L/Cpl Sarkodie and his colleagues’ scholarships were cancelled when the PNDC took over the reins of government and that it was some benevolent Ghanaians in the US who supported him until he returned to Ghana in 1983.
She said L/Cpl Sarkodie went into exile first in Togo, then in Cote D’Ivoire when he realised his life was in danger in Ghana.
She said he later sent for her and they stayed in Lome for a year before he left for London through Lome.
Madam Ampomah said at the time of his departure, she was pregnant and that when she returned to Ghana and heard rumours that L/Cpl Sarkodie had been executed, she did not and still does not believe it because she saw him off at the Lome Airport.
She said between 1984 and 1988, she and their 18-year-old son were living in constant fear as soldiers trailed them always while a cousin of his was also tortured by soldiers within the period for no apparent reason.
Corporal Gabriel Apatinga was also killed with Giwa and Sarkodie Addo.
While the Ghana Armed Forces claimed Cpl Apatinga deserted the army and was later dismissed, his associates in the army contend that he was executed alongside Giwa and others.
Indeed many soldiers died during the bloody days of the PNDC.
It’s estimated by Amnesty international that some 500 (it could be more) people (includes soldiers and civilians) died or disappeared during the Rawlings regime (AFRC and PNDC)