Source | Ghana Dominance News
The former officer commanding the Recce Regiment, who doubles as the Chief of Tolon traditional area, Rtd. Major Abubakar Sulemana has expressed shock at the demise of former president Jerry John Rawlings, describing the late longest-serving president of Ghana as “a gentleman” who was used by “evil” men to stage a coup in 1979.
The old soldier said this when he was speaking exclusively to ghdominancenews.com at his palace following the death of the former president on Thursday, November 12, 2020.
“First of all, I will like to pray to God to forgive him for all the mistakes and dirty things associated with him. To tell you the truth, when things happen this way, we look at things above without looking at those under. I strongly believe that Rawlings did not just wake up and gave orders that other people should be killed”,Rtd. Major Abubakar Sulemana
“Somebody organised it. I knew Rawlings very well. The man loved even horses (he could not hurt a fly) , how can such person do that (killing of other soldiers)?”, he wondered.
When asked if he thought Rawlings was used by some powerful people, he said murder the ex servicemen, he answered :
“Exactly! That is what I am talking about. All the evil things that were done during his period. Unfortunately. It is just like, I have the power, I have the money. I put you there. I come to tell you to do something, can you refuse? They used him. They pushed him. They forced him to some dirty things.”Rtd. Major Abubakar Sulemana
The Rtd. Major used the opportunity to narate how his relationship with the late Rawlings before the attempted coup that marred their good friendship was.
“He was my friend. Rawlings used to come to my house at Burma Camp. We would sit down and discuss it. We would later meet and ride horses together. Very gentle. Not a devil. Unfortunately, the devils that forced him to do those things are still around. I don’t want to be tagged as a politician. If you look deep, they are the people causing the mess around John Mahama. They still have their revolutionary caps on”Rtd. Major Abubakar Sulemana
He however denied allegations that he tortured Jerry, when the latter attempted his first coup on May 15, 1979, adding that he advised him to stop resorting to gun to resolve the country’s problems.
“When we arrested Rawlings from the airport base, I brought him personally in my command car to my office. I told him, Rawlings, guns cannot solve Ghana’s problem. He asked for a whiskey, I went to my house and brought him some in a bottle and when Odartey Wolinton sent for him, I handed him over”, he revealed.
“I wish Rawlings could come back and tell you. They are all lies. I never hurt him. If they tortured him in the MI area, I don’t know. But, from the airport base to my office, nothing happened to him”.Rtd. Major Abubakar Sulemana
The cat and mouse game between the two dates back to 15 May 1979 when Jerry John Rawlings tried to stage his own coup d’etat, which flopped as a stillborn uprising.
The man behind his failure was Major Sulemana who was then the officer commanding the Reece regiment of the Ghana Army.
Military legend has it that while the frustrated Ft-Lt, in furtherance of the conspiracy and his band of angry young men were on a shooting spree in their desire to seize Burma Camp, Sulemana went through the hail of bullets, seized the Ft-Lt’s weapon and mockingly told him to “learn how to do coups properly next time,”.
When the June 4 uprising succeeded and installed the skimpy looking Rawlings as Head of State of Ghana, Sulemana went underground, slipping through a massive dragnet thrown for him by the regime of junior officers. Though he is known to have lived in the capital for the entire duration of the AFRC, all attempts to capture him proved futile.
Resurfacing immediately after the AFRC’s handover to Dr. Hilla Limann, the PNP government must have committed one of its gravest errors when barely six months after, it sent Sulemana away for an overseas course. The December 31 coup took place before the tough Major could return.
For him, however, the coup consigned him to live in exile as he was dismissed from the Ghana Army and declared a persona-non-grata.
Sulemana’s next brush with Rawlings was in 1985 when agents of the regime traced him to the home of Alhaji Abass in Kumasi where he was reported to be planning a coup d’etat with some young former military personnel. Within hours, truckloads of heavily armed soldiers were discharged in the vicinity and ordered to storm the house.
Again, legend has it that in the ensuing shootout, Sulemana ordered his heavily outgunned group to take flight, giving firm instructions that none of them should look back.
The men who obeyed his order succeeded in running to safety while one young man who disobeyed him and looked behind him was, as the wife of Lot, immediately cut down by the massive ricochet of firepower besieging them.
Outside Ghana, Sulemana for years lived in Togo and Nigeria as a “dissident” of the PNDC until he landed in Liberia.
Sulemana saw action in the Liberia civil war where he was in the trenches as the military supremo of then rebel leader Charles Taylor who eventually won the war and went on to win the election to become the President of that country.
Determined not to allow him back home even while it was declaring a state of amnesty, the NDC in 1998 refused permission for Sulemana to come home for the funeral rites of his father, the late Tolon-Na.
The call to national service with the dawn of positive change however brought Sulemana back to Ghana and into the sector, he has been comfortable with, the security machinery of the state.