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WATCH: The 1983 coup attempt to overthrow Rawlings

A little over a year after seizing power from the Limann administration, Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings was almost overthrown by men who used to be his allies.

In October 28, 1982, Akata Pore, Mathew Adabuga and some other men who were not happy Rawlings’ leadership though they played pivotal roles in getting him into power tried to kill him.

They had made all the plans and set up, ready to shoot down the helicopter the then PNDC chairman was flying but their plans, according to Adabuga and Akata Pore, was leaked to their target by someone who was planted among them.

Following this and other failed attempts, Adabuga and a few others were arrested. Other soldiers were not given a reason for the arrest, hence, they demanded for their release.

On November 23, 1982, the disgruntled soldiers took up arms and surrounded Burma camp. They were convincingly disarmed after Adabuga was brought to them but instead of going home, they were thrown into various prisons in the country while some were able to escape to Togo.

The men who escaped infiltrated the country again on June 19, 1983, heavily armed, after information had spread that the men arrested on November 23, 1982, were going to be killed later that year.

They attacked the prisons where their cronies were being held, James Fort, Ussher Fort and Nsawam medium security prisons, and freed them.

Some of the men made their way to GBC, where they announced taking over power from the PNDC government.

Their message to the nation was given by Carlos Halidu Gyiwa who described himself as the Operational Commissioner of the Revolutionary Fighters.

Their reason for the attempted takeover was that “Flt Lt Rawlings and his team had been found to be inefficient. While he preached virtue, Flt Lt Rawlings practiced vice.”

The rebels urged students to assist them arrest Captain Kojo Tsikata, Captain Courage Quashigah, the then IGP and a host of others.

Captain Courage Quashigah, however, led some soldiers to the broadcasting house and succeeded in taking over the place after a gun battle saw the rebels run away.

After taking over, Captain Quashigah made a broadcast to inform the nation that the coup attempt had been foiled.

“At about morning, a small group of dissidents managed their way into our national studio and made a false announcement to disrupt the activities of the PNDC. I Captain Courage Quashigah, on behalf of the PNDC, want to assure the nation that the situation is under control and those dissidents should report themselves to the nearest police station or anyone seen in track-suit entering military installation should be fired on sight,” He said.

This was followed by a later broadcast by then chairman of the PNDC, Jerry John Rawlings who affirmed that “we shall stand firmly by the objectives which we proclaimed for the revolution and 31st December 1981. Loyal Forces had once again defeated yet another attempt by our enemies to create panic, confusion and unnecessary fighting in our country… until further notice all borders will remain closed.”

Note: Most of the persons mentioned in this article are late.


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