Tuesday 16 June 2020

June 16th 1979: The Execution of General Ignatius Acheampong

A rare photograph of the hooded figures of General Ignatius Acheampong (right) and Major General Edward Utuka tied to execution stakes as they await their deaths by a firing squad assembled at Teshie Military Shooting Range in Accra. Source of image: Drum Magazine, January 1980.

Both men had been condemned to death by decree of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which had come to power 12 days earlier after a violent uprising by junior officers and men of the Ghanaian military.

The text of the magazine article erroneously implies that Lt. General Akwasi Afrifa, like Acheampong a former Military Head of State, is the other figure on the firing range. Utuka, like Afrifa, was tall, slimly-built and wore a moustache. Afrifa would be executed ten days later with five other senior officers.

The other error is the supposed quote of Afrifa crying for “more bullets”. Witnesses of Afrifa’s execution recall that he dragged himself up after a salvo of shots to declare that he was not dead yet, and a soldier having to walk to his prone figure to complete the execution.

Afrifa, who was a participant in the 1966 coup which overthrew Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, had been Ghana's Head of State in 1969, while Acheampong, who deposed Dr. Kofi Busia, in 1972, was the Military Ruler until he was removed from power six years later in a palace coup.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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