Rahim Baba Salifa: The Boy Caught Between Ghana-Guinea Tensions


[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 law college was tricky. It required obtaining employed to the circumstance legislation strategy of instructing and mastering. And adapting to the workload. There were also quite a few scenarios to cram and minor time to replicate.

As swiftly as situations had been go through, they were overlooked. But regardless of all this, a several scenarios make an effect 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 particular of these scenarios for me.

Place the legal complexities, and jargons away and this case is simply just about a kid in the grip of the Point out and a father yelling and doing all he could to have his son back again. Almost nothing is reported of what the little one is suspected of. But it was greatly thought the boy was remaining held on the cost of subversion.

To greater value this story, let’s start out with the overthrow of Ghana’s to start with President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This was in 1966. A group of senior army and law enforcement officers led by Lieutenant Basic (retired) J.A. Ankrah led a coup to overthrow Ghana’s 1st president. Kwame Nkrumah, by then experienced remaining Ghana and was on his way to Hanoi, at the invitation of the Vietnamese Leader, Ho Chi Minh. Right after a variety of halt overs, Nkrumah finally settled in Hanoi. It would not just take lengthy for information of his overthrow to attain him on 24 February 1966. It was not a thing Nkrumah noticed coming. On 25 February 1966, Nkrumah by way of his Foreign Minister, Mr Alex Quaison Sackey, declared that he was nevertheless the Head of Point out of Ghana and that he would return quickly.

Nkrumah will have to have regarded that returning to Ghana was not an option. He flew to Moscow and then from Moscow to Conakry, Guinea. This was on 2nd March 1966. There, he was made a co-President. The alternative of Guinea was not peculiar. Nkrumah had been generous to Guinea. In 1958, Nkrumah lent 5,000,000 lbs . to Guinea, and Guinea’s reciprocity was understandably pure.



And it was on this day, 2nd March 1966, that Nkrumah would make a speech that would not only place a strain on the diplomatic romance in between Ghana and Guinea. It would, in all probability, transform the daily life of a boy – endlessly.

When Nkrumah arrived in Guinea, he declared:

“I have come right here purposely to use Guinea as a system to inform the environment that incredibly quickly I shall be in Accra, in Ghana. I am not going to say anything at all from anyone, simply because I understand correctly the aspects at perform in the environment today… All we have to do is to stand company and see how we can counteract these components.[2]

Nkrumah’s presence in Guinea and the guidance he drew from the Guinean Condition came at a price. The authorities of the Countrywide Liberation Council shut the Ghanaian embassy in Conakry. Ghana’s diplomatic mission was recalled.

But none of these moves appeared to have bothered possibly Nkrumah or Sekou Touré. Whiles in Guinea, Nkrumah continued to achieve out to Ghanaians by radio broadcast. He would chat about returning shortly to Ghana and placing to loss of life all military services leaders. “I know that when the time will come, you will crush the new routine. I know the Ghanaian men and women will continue to be trustworthy to me as perfectly as to my social gathering and my authorities.[3]

Sekou Toure piled up the tension. “20,000 Guinean ex-servicemen who had been in the French Military, as properly as 50,000 soldiers recruited from women associates and youths of the Guinean Democratic Get together” would be going to Ghana “in armed service convoys to enable the Ghanaian persons cost-free itself from the dictatorship of the army traitors[4]”, he declared.

The NLC was on the edge. It did not take Nkrumah’s words and phrases frivolously and thought in the possibility of a countercoup d’état. For occasion, a soviet trawler was arrested off the Takoradi harbour as there were being fears that the Soviet Union/Russians had been doing work to the elimination of the NLC.

The earlier mentioned background paints a truthful photo of the state of relations involving Ghana and Guinea, and the political local weather in Ghana. It is, therefore, not tough to see how any individual from Guinea might close up being considered with suspicion.

The protagonist in this story was a younger male by the title of Salifa or Salifu. The law studies named him as Mohammed Abdul Rahim Baba Salifa. The newspapers of the day named him as Abdul Rahim Baba Salifu. For this piece, let’s simply call him Salifa.

Salifa was a fifteen-calendar year-outdated schoolboy sent to Guinea by his father in 1965 to study. Two decades afterwards, he ran away from his guardian. He run absent since he was getting maltreated by his guardian. This was not out of the blue. He experienced previously complained and composed about the maltreatment he endured at the palms of his Guinean guardian – Dr Oury. His father had letters to exhibit. There was, consequently, an founded sample of abuse and mistreatment. So, he selected to flee.

He did not come to Ghana straight. His initially quit was Sierra Leone where he requested the Ghanaian Significant Commissioner to help him return to his parents in Ghana. He got the help he asked for. But not in the way he expected. He arrived in Ghana in June 1967. But the moment he touched down, he was arrested by the police and detained at the Ussher Fort Prison. He was not charged with any legal offence. He was just imprisoned. He was property but could not get property. The legislation report did not give any cause for his arrest. Neither did the newspapers. It was greatly rumoured and considered that he was being held basically mainly because he experienced arrived from Guinea. Other individuals rumoured that he may well have been an agent of the Nkrumah despatched to supply some messages to Nkrumah loyalists in Ghana.

With his son at the Ussher Fort jail, his father attempted to do the really all-natural issue: get his son out of jail. A calendar year immediately after Salifa’s detention (i.e., in June 1968), his father engaged a attorney to compel the jail authorities to produce his son. A day was scheduled for the hearing. The Director of Prisons confirmed up. He had 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 Basic Ankrah on the grounds that the decree was undated and not gazetted. Salifa’s law firm, John Lynes an Australian who had come to settle in Ghana and would sooner or later be deported, argued that the decree did not point out Salifa’s name and as a result it could not have utilized to him. The uncovered Superior Courtroom judge, Anterkyi J agreed with Salifa’s attorney and concluded that the decree authorizing the arrest and detention of Salifa was defective and not compliant with the Nationwide Liberation Council’s individual proclamation. On that basis, Salifa was unveiled.

But not for very long.

He was right away re-arrested and brought right before a various courtroom. The initial circumstance was taken care of by Mr. K. Gyeke-Darko, a Principal Condition Attorney, who was well-known for prosecuting various coup plot trials. In the re-arrest proceedings, the Lawyer-Standard, Victor Owusu, and the Director for General public Prosecutions ended up in courtroom. The presence of the Legal professional-Typical and the Director for General public Prosecutions sums up the value the NLC put on this situation.

Mr. Victor Owusu, as quoted in the 11th July 1968 Every day Graphic, argued that the NLC govt had unlimited powers and was “more strong than the colonial governing administration and even the Governing administration of unbiased Ghana and its Parliament”. Very long tale limited, the NLC could not regardless of what it required to do, such as arresting a seventeen-year-outdated boy with no demand and lawful basis. The second court, presided over by Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe upheld the validity of the exact detention buy, and Salifa was driving bars again. And this is wherever the story ends.


We only get an insight into Salifa’s considering in a letter he wrote to his father. In his possess phrases he writes:

“Please, father, I will like you to know that when I was coming I reported myself to the Ghana Substantial Commissioner in Sierra Leone that I am a seventeen-yr outdated pupil who has been to Guinea in 1965 Oct (i.e. for the duration of the old government) and required to arrive back again to Ghana and keep with my parents, exactly where I will be in a position to continue on my experiments. Effectively, this man (the Significant Commissioner) gave me a ticket, ready my travelling certification and helped me to embark into the aircraft for Ghana – with all my loyalty I am arrested.

Everything is crystal clear, I believe, that if I had been coming to do a thing versus the govt I would not have passed by means of the Ghana Higher Commissioner in Sierra Leone, but, as I said, I am destined to be arrested. So, go away anything to God, father.

Please, when you acquire a letter from Oury saying that I have run away, choose that letter to the Specific Branch (C.I.D.) with my letters which inform you that I am in jail in Ghana, so you have arrive to beg them torelease me for the reason that I am innocent and I am a student, I am not interested in politics.”

Captured in the earlier mentioned letter is a elaborate and conflicting established of thoughts. Salifa asserts his innocence, comes to phrases with his circumstances, makes an attempt to console the father, and somewhere in there wishes that his guardian in Guinea Dr. Oury will produce to the Ghanaian authorities to corroborate his story and with any luck , get him introduced.

Not significantly is recognized of the fate of Salifa. Did he die? Did he endure the turbulent durations in incarceration? How lengthy was he there? Was he at some point unveiled? Did he lastly get to know the expenses levelled in opposition to him? What variety of existence did he live afterwards? It is really hard to convey to. It has been past 50 percent of a century due to the fact the activities described in this piece took spot. And sadly, Salifa’s tale is nonetheless waiting around to be instructed – in complete.

***: I would like to thank Mr. Fui Tsikata of Reindorf Chambers for his thoughts and insight on the topic. 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 present-day archives, March 12-19, pg. (21275) http://world wide web.stanford.edu/group/tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/1408-1966-Keesings-a-EYJ.pdf

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid


Source connection