Today in History, exactly 38 years ago, on 30 June 1982, three High Court Judges as well as a retired army officer were murdered in cold blood at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains, after being abducted on the night by some unidentified assailants. The four were Mrs. Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo, Mr. Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong, Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie and Major Rtd. Sam Acquah.
On the night of 30 June 1982, Mrs Addo who was nursing a child, Justice Poku Sarkodie and Justice Kwadwo Adjei Agyapong as well as a retired military officer were abducted from their homes.
The murders took place at the Bundase military shooting range in the Accra Plains during the hours of a night-time curfew.
Following intense pressure on Rawlings and the PNDC, a Special Investigation Board was formed by the government to investigate the murders of the three High Court Judges and the retired army officer.
Five people – Joachim Amartey Kwei (then 32 years); L/Cpl Samuel Kwaku Amedeka (27); L/Cpl Michael Senya (21); Johnny Dzandu (23) and Tony Tekpor (24) were tried by a National Public Tribunal, chaired by Mr. George Agyekum. The other members of the Tribunal were Madam Comfort Doe; S/Sgt. Mumuni Seidu; Mr. Jenkins Kofie and L/Cpl Moses Tonka.
The case started at the Old State House in Accra on July 20, 1983. On August 15, 1983, the Tribunal gave judgement in the case of The People vrs Joachim Amartey Kwei and four others. All the five, except L/Cpl Amedeka, who was tried in absentia, were sentenced to death by firing squad.
The three High Court Judges were martyred and are remembered in an annual judicial service on the anniversary of their deaths, called Martyrs Day, in Ghana.
The commemoration of their deaths on Martyr’s Day is an appropriate occasion to examine the role of judges and lawyers in the defence of the rule of law. An independent judiciary is the backbone of the rule of law.
The Memorial to the Martyrs of the Rule of Law, which includes statues of all three murdered justices, stands in front of the Supreme Court of Ghana buildings today