Exactly 37 years ago, on 19 June 1983, Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa led a group of rebels in an unsuccessful attempted coup d’etat which came very close to overthrowing the ruling Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) led by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings.
On 19 June 1983, rebel soldiers, based in Togo, attacked two prisons in Accra and one at Nsawam, it was Corporal Carlos Halidu Giwa who made the radio announcement asking Castle (Rawling’s residence) troops to surrender to revolutionary fighters. Halidu Giwa was reportedly part of the 31 December 1981 coup that ousted Hilla Limann from office and brought Rawlings to power.
It was then Captain Courage Quashigah who demonstrated perhaps not only his spirit of courage and adventurism but also, a sense of foresight, loyalty and leadership when with the force of authority, aired something which roughly read like this:
“At about morning, a small group of dissidents managed their way into our national studio and made 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 that those dissidents should report themselves to the nearest police station- or anyone seen in track-suit, entering the military installation, should be fired on sight.”
After about two hours of resistance, the rebels were over-powered by the combined force of loyal soldiers led by Warrant Officer Adjei Boadi and Captain Courage Quashigah. Captain Quashigah announced that the PNDC was back in control.
Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings ordered all of Ghana’s borders closed until further notice and advanced the regular midnight curfew to 6 p.m. This was to ensnare rebel soldiers who staged the fourth unsuccessful coup attempt against his military government Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).
Though the coup attempt failed, lives were changed from that day. One of the casualties of that day was Boakye Agyarko, Ghana’s immediate past Energy Minister, who was shot and left at the 37 Military Hospital for dead.
After the coup failed, the military high command assumed that Agyarko was part of the coup plotters. This was due to his high political activism and criticism of the economic policies adopted by the country’s military leaders led by Jerry John Rawlings.
He was arrested by men from the Ghana Armed Forces who took him to the Air Force Base at Burma Camp in Accra. He was shot at the base and sent to the 37 Military Hospital morgue.
At the morgue, a nurse realised that he was not dead and rushed him to the emergency services where he was operated upon by Henry Koku Akpalu. After the surgery, he fled the country through the help of a friend, Monsieur Le Veloire and his two sisters. Agyarko emigrated the United States as a political refugee and enrolled at Pace University. He later worked with Bank of New York after graduation, rising through the ranks to become vice president of the oldest bank in the United States.