Exactly 41 years ago on June 4th, 1979, Ghana’s history was to be changed forever as a massive revolution occurred, freeing Jerry John Rawlings from a death sentence and changing the dynamics of Ghanaian politics quite significantly.
Earlier on May 15th, 1979, Rawlings had led a group of junior army officers in an attempted overthrow of the government of the Supreme Military Council led by General FWK Akuffo.
Rawlings and his co-conspirators were arrested and imprisoned after their mutiny was quashed through the very instrumental efforts of the army commander, Major-General Odartey Wellington.
What was supposed to be a trial of Rawlings turned into a counter trial, after he (Rawlings) accused the government of massive corruption, insensitivity, and greed, thereby winning the hearts and minds of the junior soldiers and the populace, who were fed up with the bad governance.
On the night of June 3, 1979, a group of junior officers including Major Boakye Djan and enlisted personnel of the Fifth Battalion and the Reconnaissance Regiment in Burma Camp staged a bloody coup and freed Rawlings.
This uprising was again nearly quashed by the fine army commander, Major-General Odartey Wellington, who with his ADC alone, entered an armored car and exchanged fire with the mutineers for three continuous hours.
When he ran out of cartridges, he dashed to the Nima Police Station to surrender. Unfortunately, he was killed on the spot by military officers immediately he came out of the armored truck, marking the actual beginning of the uprising.
After the incident, all military installations were searched and senior military officers who were on the side of the Supreme Military Council (SMC II) were killed. It was on the same day that Col. Aninful, the president of the military tribunal that tried Rawlings and the junior officers on 15th May was killed. His wife and children who were also in the same room were shot. Many sympathizers of the previous government fled the country to seek asylum elsewhere.
The soldiers also rounded up three former heads of state; General F. K Akuffo, Ignatious Kutu Acheampong, and Afrifa for trial. They were subsequently executed by firing squad.