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General News of Monday, 31 December 2001

Source: The Dispatch (?)

"JJ opposed Afrifa's execution" -Hamidu

Gen.Ha midu Lt.-Gen. Joshua Hamidu (rtd), ex-Director of Military Intelligence and Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, has reacted angrily to a seven-page rejoinder by the Deputy Minister of Defence and the Director of Research of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Tony Aidoo to statements he (Hamidu) made at a press conference last week.

In an interview with The Dispatch last Friday, Gen. Hamidu, 63, said that if the army had not behaved in civilized manner in the aftermath of the failed May 15, 1979 coup, "we could have summarily executed Mr. Rawlings and all this hullabaloo would not have happened."

Regarding Dr. Aidoo's allegation that he (Hamidu) insisted that the then Gen. (rtd) Akwasi Afrifa should be executed the General said: "That is ridiculous. It is a lie. I had nothing to do with the executions. For three weeks after the June 4 event, questions were constantly raised about executing people. I always stood against it. Surprisingly, the only person who also stood against it was Rawlings.

The young boys wanted blood and I used to tell 'you cannot resurrect the man once you've killed him. If you have any case against people, try them. Let everybody hear what they have done wrong against the country.' And that even, they could not do."

On whether his press statement last week was written by himself or scribes of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), he laughed and replied: "Well, he (Aidoo) is an academic and so articulate but at least I have enough commonsense to state my case without ranting. And if I had not written that statement, I would not be taking on press interviews."

The Deputy Defence Minister also alleged that Gen. Hamidu did not retire voluntarily but was retired because of his long record of professional incompetence. He was sharp-tongued in his reaction: "Well, you should ask Tony Aidoo the basis of that assertion. As far as I know, it would be sad for me to have risen up to the CDS if my professional competence was in question. Of course, the government of the day was not the kind of government that would put the types of Dr. Aidoo in charge of a Ministry he does not even know properly."

General Hamidu then added: "If it had not been our attempt at being a civilized army, we could have summarily executed Mr. Rawlings and all this hullabaloo would not have happened. We wanted to give the man a chance to prove his innocence or his guilt. And what happened? When we gave him that opportunity, they carried out a full-blooded insurrection."

On whether he regretted that Rawlings was not executed, Hamidu said: "No. What I believed and still believe that every man or woman who has committed an offence or misdemeanor has a right o be heard and you can't declare a person guilty until you have heard his side of the story. We gave him that opportunity. We do not know if he has done the same for other Ghanaians."

Tony Aidoo accused Hamidu of being a coward, unlike President Jerry Rawlings who has had the courage and honesty to admit the excesses of June 4 and December 31, 1981.

Hamidu gave his view: "Well, that is his opinion. I do know this that I have taken responsibility for the breakdown. I have said in my statement that to my shame, things went haywire when we tried to bring down the insurrection. And things went haywire because people said it was an other ranks coup. When the men you command say they will no longer be under your command, there is not very much you can do. You can't go shooting all of them. And if my admission, by virtue of my position at that time of failure to put down the insurrection does not satisfy him and makes me a coward, I would like to see what kind of intellectual dishonesty he is displaying to this country."

On his role as a senior security operative in the regime of the late Dr. K.A. Busia, Hamidu, who said he had come home to stay for good, explained: "It's a shame that the Deputy Minister of Defence of this country does not understand the Military Intelligence (MJ) is a security organization for the whole country. At my time, it was the Special Branch, now called the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). The MI co-operated with the Special Branch and other security organs. To accuse me of being responsible for the overthrow of the Busia regime is mischievous and at best, a big lie. We did report to the appropriate agencies that all was not well."

Would he be interested if he was offered the slot of being Mr. J.A. Kufuor's running mate in this year's elections? "I have said elsewhere that nobody applies for this job.

Nobody canvasses for this job. Nobody but the flagbearer alone can decide on who he wants as his running mate. Therefore, if Mr. Kufuor in his own wisdom decides that I have the requisite experience to be of use to him in any capacity, that will be his priority. And I would feel very honoured to back him." Gen. Hamidu said by trying to impute that the NPP was using him, the NDC was trying to make it difficult for him to perform any important tasks for the NPP, adding: "They (the NDC) are very good at making mischief. I think they have proved it over and over again. And this whole thing is mischievous."

On the question of his safety: "Well, I have only one life to live. I'm 63 years now. I know people who have died naturally of heart attack and other things. And I know of people who have died in funny circumstances in this country. I know that I'm being followed around. I was Director of Military Intelligence for a long time and I know that it is the government's prerogative to secure itself. If this government sees me as a threat and wants to secure itself by following me, so be it.

I'm not doing anything or about to do anything that will jeopardise the security of this country.

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