Former Flagbearer Aspirant of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Arthur Kennedy, says UGCC founder-member Dr J.B. Danquah was chained in jail and dehumanised while in detention.
‘The 69-year-old died from the harsh conditions that exacerbated his health, in prison. After his second detention on 8th January, 1964, he was subjected to harsh treatment, including chaining and being deprived of a bed for some time’, Dr Kennedy wrote in an article.
According to him, the late UP Presidential Candidate’s death was in no uncertain terms caused by the demeaning treatment he was subjected to while in detention at the Nsawam medium Security prison.
He said: ‘Let no one try to mitigate our shame by pretending that Danquah died of natural causes. His death will stain Nkrumah’s life and our collective conscience, forever. Anyone who thinks imprisonment had nothing to do with Danquah’s death should talk to Tsatsu Tsikata about the effect imprisonment can have on one’s health. Mandela would not have lasted 27 months in that prison—let alone 27 years’.
Contributing to a statement on the floor of Parliament last week to mark the 49th anniversary of Dr Danquah’s death, Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Murtala Muhammed argued that Dr Danquah died of natural causes rather than his imprisonment.
“…Even under Busia, a Committee that was set up to look at the circumstances under which he lost his life proved clearly that he didn’t die as a result of he being in prison. It was a natural death and the history is there clearly for us all to see, Mr Muhammed contended.
The UGCC founder-member who died on February 4, 1965 was imprisoned twice under the Preventive Detention Act/Order of 1958 and 1961 for alleged subversive activities against the Nkrumah Government.
The Preventive Detention Act was a law passed by Parliament at the time and permitted the detention of subversive elements without trial for up to five years. It was later extended to 10 years.
While commemorating his anniversary in Parliament, Nadowli-Kaleo MP, Alban Bagbin bemoaned that Dr Danquah was a victim of political intolerance and therefore used the occasion to urge political tolerance in Ghana.
Dr Kennedy says while Mr Murtala Muhammed deserved a punch in the face for suggesting that Dr Danquah died of natural causes, Mr Bagbin deserved commendation or his maturity.
‘When NDC legislator Murtala Mohammed stated that Danquah died of natural causes, one of the NPP MP’s should have punched him on the nose and then hugged Bagbin for his maturity and commonsense’.
He also deplored staunch Nkrumaist, Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa’s justification of the PDA.
Prof Akosa told Strict Proof on Radio XYZ that the subversive activities perpetrated against Nkrumah’s Government at the time, necessitated the enactment of the PDA.
“When you live in a country where a certain proportion of the people had taken to nothing but violence; planning assassinations attempts against the Government or the country, something needed to be done and therefore, for that moment, it was necessary”, Prof Akosa argued.
Dr Kennedy however says ‘as for Prof. Akosah’s defense of the PDA, it shows how intellect can be tragically mis-applied in the service of ideology. It was a very, very low point in the Prof’s distinguished career. That kind of warped thinking has led to political victimization all across the world and throughout history’.
According to him, upon Danquah’s death, ‘there was so much fear in Ghana that it was left to a lone Commonwealth Hall student and Nigeria’s President, Nnamdi Azikiwe, to eulogise him’.