[Dedication: This piece is dedicated to a dear friend and law school mate, Richard Badombie Esq whose tragic passing at the hands of some armed persons has left us in shock. He would be sorely missed for his public spiritedness and warm personality]

The early days of regulation school was hard. It needed acquiring used to the situation regulation system of educating and understanding. And adapting to the workload. There were too many cases to cram and minimal time to mirror.

As rapidly as situations had been examine, they have been forgotten. But even with all this, a several scenarios make an impression on you. And this continues to be with you for a extensive time. The Republic v Director of Prisons, Ex parte Salifa[1] was one of people cases for me.

Put the legal complexities, and jargons absent and this situation is only about a baby in the grip of the Point out and a father yelling and carrying out all he could to have his son again. Almost nothing is said of what the kid is suspected of. But it was extensively considered the boy was being held on the demand of subversion.

To superior enjoy this tale, let’s begin with the overthrow of Ghana’s initially President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This was in 1966. A group of senior military services and law enforcement officers led by Lieutenant Typical (retired) J.A. Ankrah led a coup to overthrow Ghana’s very first president. Kwame Nkrumah, by then had still left Ghana and was on his way to Hanoi, at the invitation of the Vietnamese Leader, Ho Chi Minh. Soon after a variety of cease overs, Nkrumah finally settled in Hanoi. It would not get long for news of his overthrow to attain him on 24 February 1966. It was not some thing Nkrumah observed coming. On 25 February 1966, Nkrumah by means of his International Minister, Mr Alex Quaison Sackey, declared that he was still the Head of Condition of Ghana and that he would return soon.

Nkrumah should have recognised that returning to Ghana was not an choice. He flew to Moscow and then from Moscow to Conakry, Guinea. This was on 2nd March 1966. There, he was designed a co-President. The choice of Guinea was not weird. Nkrumah experienced been generous to Guinea. In 1958, Nkrumah lent 5,000,000 lbs . to Guinea, and Guinea’s reciprocity was understandably purely natural.


And it was on this day, 2nd March 1966, that Nkrumah would make a speech that would not only place a pressure on the diplomatic relationship in between Ghana and Guinea. It would, in all probability, improve the everyday living of a boy – forever.

When Nkrumah arrived in Guinea, he declared:

“I have occur in this article purposely to use Guinea as a system to convey to the earth that extremely shortly I shall be in Accra, in Ghana. I am not likely to say just about anything from any person, simply because I have an understanding of properly the aspects at do the job in the environment today… All we have to do is to stand firm and see how we can counteract these things.[2]

Nkrumah’s presence in Guinea and the help he drew from the Guinean Condition arrived at a price tag. The governing administration of the Countrywide Liberation Council shut the Ghanaian embassy in Conakry. Ghana’s diplomatic mission was recalled.

But none of these moves seemed to have bothered either Nkrumah or Sekou Touré. Whiles in Guinea, Nkrumah continued to arrive at out to Ghanaians by way of radio broadcast. He would talk about returning before long to Ghana and placing to demise all armed forces leaders. “I know that when the time arrives, you will crush the new routine. I know the Ghanaian men and women will keep on being faithful to me as nicely as to my party and my authorities.[3]

Sekou Toure piled up the pressure. “20,000 Guinean ex-servicemen who experienced been in the French Army, as nicely as 50,000 troopers recruited from females members and youths of the Guinean Democratic Social gathering” would be heading to Ghana “in armed forces convoys to help the Ghanaian men and women absolutely free itself from the dictatorship of the army traitors[4]”, he declared.

The NLC was on the edge. It did not take Nkrumah’s phrases flippantly and considered in the chance of a countercoup d’état. For instance, a soviet trawler was arrested off the Takoradi harbour as there have been fears that the Soviet Union/Russians were being performing in the direction of the elimination of the NLC.

The over background paints a honest image of the state of relations between Ghana and Guinea, and the political weather in Ghana. It is, for that reason, not tricky to see how any individual from Guinea may finish up becoming seen with suspicion.

The protagonist in this tale was a younger person by the title of Salifa or Salifu. The regulation reports named him as Mohammed Abdul Rahim Baba Salifa. The newspapers of the day named him as Abdul Rahim Baba Salifu. For this piece, let us contact him Salifa.

Salifa was a fifteen-calendar year-previous schoolboy despatched to Guinea by his father in 1965 to review. Two yrs later on, he ran absent from his guardian. He operate absent for the reason that he was being maltreated by his guardian. This was not out of the blue. He had previously complained and created about the maltreatment he experienced at the hands of his Guinean guardian – Dr Oury. His father experienced letters to clearly show. There was, as a result, an founded pattern of abuse and mistreatment. So, he chose to flee.

He did not appear to Ghana instantly. His to start with quit was Sierra Leone in which he requested the Ghanaian High Commissioner to support him return to his dad and mom in Ghana. He got the support he asked for. But not in the way he predicted. He arrived in Ghana in June 1967. But the moment he touched down, he was arrested by the law enforcement and detained at the Ussher Fort Prison. He was not billed with any legal offence. He was just imprisoned. He was household but could not get house. The regulation report did not give any motive for his arrest. Neither did the newspapers. It was extensively rumoured and considered that he was being held only due to the fact he had arrived from Guinea. Other folks rumoured that he may possibly have been an agent of the Nkrumah sent to produce some messages to Nkrumah loyalists in Ghana.

With his son at the Ussher Fort prison, his father tried to do the very normal detail: get his son out of jail. A year just after Salifa’s detention (i.e., in June 1968), his father engaged a lawyer to compel the jail authorities to make his son. A day was scheduled for the hearing. The Director of Prisons confirmed up. He experienced a decree signed by the Chairman of the Nationwide Liberation Council supposedly authorizing the arrest and detention of Salifa.

Salifa’s lawyer challenged the validity of the decree issued by Typical Ankrah on the grounds that the decree was undated and not gazetted. Salifa’s law firm, John Lynes an Australian who experienced occur to settle in Ghana and would eventually be deported, argued that the decree did not mention Salifa’s name and hence it could not have utilized to him. The discovered Substantial Court docket choose, Anterkyi J agreed with Salifa’s law firm and concluded that the decree authorizing the arrest and detention of Salifa was defective and not compliant with the Nationwide Liberation Council’s possess proclamation. On that foundation, Salifa was unveiled.

But not for extensive.

He was straight away re-arrested and introduced in advance of a different court. The initially circumstance was dealt with by Mr. K. Gyeke-Darko, a Principal State Legal professional, who was renowned for prosecuting numerous coup plot trials. In the re-arrest proceedings, the Legal professional-Normal, Victor Owusu, and the Director for Public Prosecutions were in courtroom. The existence of the Attorney-Common and the Director for Public Prosecutions sums up the worth the NLC placed on this circumstance.

Mr. Victor Owusu, as quoted in the 11th July 1968 Day-to-day Graphic, argued that the NLC authorities had endless powers and was “more powerful than the colonial govt and even the Federal government of unbiased Ghana and its Parliament”. Extended tale short, the NLC could not what ever it needed to do, together with arresting a seventeen-yr-old boy without having cost and lawful foundation. The 2nd courtroom, presided over by Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe upheld the validity of the similar detention purchase, and Salifa was guiding bars once again. And this is wherever the story ends.


We only get an insight into Salifa’s imagining in a letter he wrote to his father. In his own words he writes:

“Please, father, I will like you to know that when I was coming I claimed myself to the Ghana Significant Commissioner in Sierra Leone that I am a seventeen-year previous pupil who has been to Guinea in 1965 October (i.e. for the duration of the aged federal government) and wished to arrive back again to Ghana and stay with my parents, where by I will be capable to go on my scientific tests. Properly, this man (the Superior Commissioner) gave me a ticket, organized my travelling certification and helped me to embark into the plane for Ghana – with all my loyalty I am arrested.

Every thing is apparent, I imagine, that if I were being coming to do some thing against the govt I would not have passed by way of the Ghana Higher Commissioner in Sierra Leone, but, as I explained, I am destined to be arrested. So, leave almost everything to God, father.

Please, anytime you get a letter from Oury stating that I have run away, acquire that letter to the Unique Branch (C.I.D.) with my letters which convey to you that I am in prison in Ghana, so you have come to beg them torelease me simply because I am harmless and I am a student, I am not fascinated in politics.”

Captured in the previously mentioned letter is a elaborate and conflicting set of feelings. Salifa asserts his innocence, will come to phrases with his situations, tries to console the father, and somewhere in there wishes that his guardian in Guinea Dr. Oury will create to the Ghanaian authorities to corroborate his story and hopefully get him produced.

Not significantly is recognised of the destiny of Salifa. Did he die? Did he survive the turbulent periods in incarceration? How very long was he there? Was he eventually produced? Did he finally get to know the fees levelled versus him? What form of lifestyle did he live later on? It is tricky to inform. It has been past fifty percent of a century considering the fact that the functions described in this piece took place. And sadly, Salifa’s tale is nevertheless ready to be informed – in comprehensive.

***: I want to thank Mr. Fui Tsikata of Reindorf Chambers for his thoughts and perception on the matter. Also, my gratitude goes to Oliver Barker Vormawor and Ama Asare Korang for examining previously drafts of this piece.

[1] [1968] GLR 630

[2]Keesing’s up to date archives, March 12-19, pg. (21275) http://website.stanford.edu/group/tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/1408-1966-Keesings-a-EYJ.pdf

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid