Monday, 17th April 1967 is one of the days Ghanaians, especially history enthusiasts will never forget easily. It was supposed to be a normal Monday like any other. But by dusk that day, Ghanaians would come to the realization of a shocking reality which would leave many wondering what the future for the young nation would be like.
A little over a year prior, the country’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, had been overthrown in a bloody coup detat orchestrated by two military officers with support from the CIA and a few figureheads of others security agencies in the country.
There were mixed reactions from the general public, mainly of relief. Others who were appalled by it could not show their disapproval though.
The new government had barely settled to work when a little over a year later, an attempted coup rattled the morning of Monday 17th April 1967. It would leave in its wake a relatively smaller number of casualties relative to that of operation ‘Cold Chop’, but significantly superior. This is because, by the time the uprising was quenched, the Chief of Defence Staff, General E.K Kotoko, the leader of the 1966 coupe was dead.
A lot of things happened on that day. Significant to our caption was what happened at the seat of government, the Osu Castle. A group of soldiers involved in the foiled coupe had been dispatched to the Castle to capture the place and arrest the president, General Joseph Arthur and kill him if there was the need.
The team sent there successfully took hold of the seat of government with a weak resistance from the squadron guarding the place.
All they were left with was to get hold of the Head of State — dead or alive. He was called out and he obliged, dressed in full military uniform. The leader of the team, a young, inexperienced Lieutenant Ebenezer Osei Poku, who had been commissioned into the Ghana Army as an officer six months prior, ordered the Head of State to go down on his knees. General Ankrah obliged.
In between when he went down and Osei Poku and his men closing in on him, there was a lapse, a little lost of focus.
The experienced General took advantage of that window of lack of focus by his potential captors and showed a clean pair of heels. He dashed through an opening which was close to him. Osei Poku and his men started shooting in that direction.
The shooting went on for a while and then there was a lull of silence.The team waited till day break before they decided it was safe to check if the General survived the hail of bullets which went his direction.
They were gobsmacked when they got there. Apparently that door did not lead to any room. It was rather an alley, which led directly into the sea. The leader had jumped into the sea and swam his way to survival. It was later discovered that, he went for cover at the Osu Police Station.
A soldier is always a soldier, age notwithstanding.
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