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Opinions of Saturday, 18 December 2004

Columnist: Ghanaian Chronicle

Boakye Djan, JJ And Ghana

By I. K. Gyasi

For Goodness' sake, will retired Major Kojo Boakye Djan give some of us break by refraining from his constant attacks on the former President J.J. Rawlings?

If Boakye Djan is to be believed, then he is to be condemned for his ignominious, even criminal role, making Mr. Rawlings what he became.

But first hear him (Boakye Djan): "In addition to his (Rawlings') original crisis of identity that some of us misjudged to be social radicalism, he appears to me to be suffering from a crisis of delusion of grandeur he does not have." - (The Crusading Guide - Thursday Edition of April1-7, 2004).

The same issue of the paper reports Boakye Djan as saying, "As to the question of Rawlings himself, he has become a menace both to himself and society and a way has to be found quickly to restrain him against himself and society with the appropriate level of confinement here or abroad."

When Mr. Rawlings and Major Boakye Djan traded accusations in September last year, the latter made some startling pronouncements, which were designed to give Mr. Rawlings a knockout blow but which, in the end, put him (Boakye Djan) in the worst possible light as a criminal, conspirator and unpatriotic citizen.

According to Mr. Rawlings, the decision to attack the then military regime in 1979 had to be postponed because of the cowardice of Boakye Djan.

Boakye Djan's answer to that accusation was that, on the contrary, the delay in striking at the regime had been due to the inability of Mr. Rawlings to pass his promotion examinations after three successive attempts.

According to Boakye Djan, he had to coach Rawlings until he had " a massaged borderline pass in 1978."

"A massaged pass!" One meaning of the word "massage" is " to alter figures, etc, dishonestly in order to make them more acceptable" - (OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNERS' DICTIONARY - 1998 Edition) According to Boakye Djan's confession in September last year, he, acting alone or in criminal conspiracy with others, deceived the top brass of the Ghana Armed Forces into believing that J.J. Rawlings, then a Flying Officer in the Ghana Airforce, had passed his promotion examination and deserved to be promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

The same deception induced the then Government of Ghana to make funds available so that Mr. Rawlings could enjoy a higher salary in line with his promotion.

Was it Rawlings who told his superior officers and the Government of Ghana that he had passed his promotion examination? No. After writing the promotion examination, Rawlings was "sitting his somewhere," as Ghanaians would say, when he was told that he had finally passed after three attempts.

If there is a case of fraudulent misrepresentation, Rawlings could not be charged. It was rather Boakye Djan who deceived his superior officers. Therefore, if there is anyone to be charged, then it is Boakye Djan.

Interestingly, retired Squadron Leader George Tagoe had, in his testimony long before Boakye Djan appeared at the National Reconciliation Commission, stated that he had persuaded a former headmaster of West African Secondary School to coach Rawlings for the Current Affairs examination.

Who did the coaching? Was it Boakye Djan or the headmaster of West Africa Secondary School? Or was it the combined effort of Boakye Djan and the headmaster?

Whoever it was, the most important fact, according to Boakye Djan, was that Rawlings could only manage " a massaged borderline pass" that gave him the promotion he needed.

As far as I am concerned, Boakye Djan should be charged with the crime of fraudulent misrepresentation. If Rawlings is "a walking criminal", according to Boakye Djan, what about Boakye Djan himself? Has he apologized to the Ghana Armed Forces for deception?

According to Mr. Rawlings, "The man (that is Boakye Djan) gave four reasons why Rawlings was made the Chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Hear him: " First because of his contribution to the uprising with the May 15, 1979 failed attempt and his pronouncements during the trial. In the course of the trial, he articulated our position to effectively psyche up the junior officers, the ranks and the whole nation for action."

"Second, that his attention span identified to be that of a four-year old which has shown no appreciable improvement since then, would make it impossible for him to chair successfully councils with complex and technical issues and agenda such as demanded by the Cabinet of professional men as Commissioners of State or National Security"

"Thirdly, his populist ravings were more suited to the hustings outside than contemplative meetings of the cabinet or the National security Council;"

"And, finally, being reduced to the Chairmanship of the Legislative Council basically to sign decrees suited us fine." - (The Ghanaian Chronicle-Monday September 8, 2003).

In plain English, what Boakye Djan said was that he and his fellow conspirators made Rawlings the chairman for initiating action on May 15, 1979, for being a moron who could not understand complicated discussions on national affairs, for his ravings and rantings that incited both soldiers and civilians against other soldiers and civilians and for exploitation as a pawn by Boakye Djan and his fellow conspirators.

Who is the criminal? Who is the unpatriotic citizen here? By his own admission, Boakye Djan deliberately made a Chairman out of someone he judged to be a mental cipher and a psychologically misshapen freak so that he and his fellow conspirators could hide behind him and perpetrate all sorts of atrocities on innocent citizens, both military and civilian.

Perhaps their expectation was that Rawlings would take the blame as the Chairman of the AFRC.

The state of Ghana and its future did not matter in the least to Boakye Djan; otherwise he would not have contrived to put a mentally retarded person (his own assessment of Rawlings) like Rawlings at the helm of affairs.

Was it not a crime to induce a person to sign decrees he did not understand? Yet, according to Boakye Dan, this is exactly what they did when they made Rawlings the Chairman. If no, why should anybody, least of all Boakye Djan, blame Rawlings?

Who freed Rawlings from the cells while he was being tried for attempted counter-coup? Was it not his close friend Boakye Djan?

Boakye Djan claims that he and others misjudged Rawlings. No, Boakye Djan did not, as shown clearly from the reasons he gave for making Rawlings the Chairman. He meant to exploit what he saw as a weakness in his friend.

What happened was that, as I have observed before in a previous article, " the mentally-retarded Rawlings was intelligent enough to outsmart the likes of such military wise men as Boakye Djan who had the self-delusion to think that the 1979 insurrection was meant to end all coups in Ghana.

Who made that law, Major Boakye Djan? There can be no doubt that this country has suffered human rights abuses dating back to colonial times.

It is equally true, however, that the three-month period of the AFRC and the ten-year period of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) witnessed the most shocking human rights abuses ever inflicted on this country.

The PNDC period, of course, lasted longer than that of the AFRC era. But in point of the horrific nature and intensity of the atrocities, Boakye Djan's AFRC cannot absolve itself from the charges of criminal behaviour that left death and devastation in the country.

Can Boakye Djan blame Rawlings for anything? After all, under our laws, certain individuals cannot be held liable for their actions.

They include children below a certain prescribed age, certified lunatics, those who commit a crime when under temporary insanity induced by drink or drug or a terribly provoking circumstance (such as finding your wife in your bed with another man), and so on.

Since Boakye Djan believes that the mental state of Rawlings " has shown no appreciable improvement" since 1979, he cannot at the same time blame the man for his actions.

Major (retired) Boakye Djan should apologize to the Ghana Armed Forces, the Government of Ghana and the people of Ghana for foisting on us someone whose mental capacity was not up to scratch by his own assessment.