General News of Thursday, 19 February 2004
Source: CAPT. KOJO TSIKATA (RTD)
The article is one long tissue of libellous distortions and outright lies. It paints Capt. Tsikata as a dubious and violent character likely to have killed Air Vice Marshall Boakye, Major Sam Acquah, Justice Fred Sarkodee and one Cpl. Seidu in cold blood. It also paints Mr. Francis Poku, National Security Co-ordinator, as a heroic victim of PNDC (and by innuendo Capt. Tsikata?s) harassment with cock and bull stories about his (Francis Poku?s) posters being posted around exit points from Ghana and helicopter searches for him in early 1982. This is evidently part of a media campaign being mounted to divert public attention from Mr. Poku?s history of participation in torture during the Acheampong regime. The Daily Guide is doing Mr. Poku?s dirty work for him presumably under his direction. We respond to specific factual allegations below.
First, nowhere does Capt. Tsikata?s statement to the NRC ?rationalise? human rights violations. To claim this is to claim that he rationalises his own torture at the hands of Francis Poku. Capt. Tsikata?s statement underscores the persistence and depth of these crimes. Capt. Tsikata?s express position is that the investigation of human rights violations must not be trivialised or subverted by the kind of partisan politicking to which many people fear the NRC process has fallen prey.
Secondly, the story suggests that in 1965 Capt. Tsikata deserted his regiment and went off to fight as a mercenary in the Congo, was captured by Congolese forces, was returned to Ghana under a cloud by the late Air Vice Marshall Boakye, investigated by the late Maj. Sam Acquah and dismissed from the Army. This again is a gross distortion of history. A false allegation made in 1964 against Ghana by the Congolese factional government which controlled Leopoldville is being been used against Capt. Tsikata. That allegation, to the effect that two Ghanaian military aircraft had delivered weapons to the rival government in Stanleyville, resulted in the detention of Ghanaian military personnel under Gen. Ashley-Larsen. The crew of the two aircraft had flown to the Congo to bring back a ?rear party? of about 20 Ghanaian soldiers who had completed their tour of duty there. Capt. Tsikata, who was staying with Ghana?s Ambassador to Leopoldville while on leave, was also detained when he sought to leave the Congo, because his passport identified him as a Ghanaian military officer. He was however released after a few days. When eventually the other Ghanaian officers and men were released, Capt. Tsikata and the Ambassador accompanied them back to Ghana in the two air force planes. Capt. Tsikata and the Ambassador were piloted by Gen. Ashley-Larsen and not AVM Boakye.
Thirdly, Capt. Tsikata was never investigated by Maj. Acquah (or by any one else) in connection with these events. Capt. Tsikata was not dismissed from the Ghana Armed Forces. He retired honourably in 1965 with his full gratuity. His retirement was gazetted and is thus a matter of public record.
Fourth, Justice Sarkodie was indeed the Judge Advocate at Capt. Tsikata?s military trial in 1976 (not to be confused with Capt. Tsikata?s later civil action against Col Odjidja and other security personnel referred to in his statement to the NRC). However if it were not for the determination for political reasons to attribute murder to Capt. Tsikata no one would regard this fact as the basis for that allegation.
Fifth, the systematic use of torture by the SMC and Mr. Poku?s role in this are matters of historical fact. There are living witnesses to this history. Mr. Francis Poku instructed and supervised Capt. Tsikata?s torture. Francis Poku personally informed Capt. Tsikata that he had instructions from the SMC to torture him to death if he did not confess to treason. One of Francis Poku?s victims, Ebenezer Allotey died in front of Capt. Tsikata. It is a fact that one of Capt. Tsikata?s torturers was a Cpl. Seidu who was nicknamed ?Carpenter? because of his practice of driving nails into suspects? testicles and sticking wooden splints up their anuses. Capt. Tsikata is not aware of the fact or circumstances of ?Carpenter?s? death. Obviously, Mr. Poku has this information.
Stories like those of the Daily Guide unfortunately illustrate the threat to the reconciliation process posed by partisan and vulgar politicking.