Country Listing

Ghana Table of Contents




Lieutenant General Frederick W. K. Akuffo, head of state and chairman of the Supreme Military Council, 1978-79
Courtesy Embassy of Ghana, Washington


Armored personnel carriers of the Ghanaian army
Courtesy Embassy of Ghana, Washington

The National Liberation Council, 1966-69

The officer corps of the regular armed forces viewed the activities of the Nkrumah regime with increasing alarm. As a result, on February 24, 1966, a small number of army officers and senior police officials, led by Colonel E.K. Kotoka, commander of the Second Army Brigade at Kumasi, Major A.A. Afrifa, staff officer in charge of army training and operations, Lieutenant General (retired) J.A. Ankra, and J.W.K. Harlley, the police inspector general, successfully launched a coup d'état against the Nkrumah regime. The new government, known as the National Liberation Council (NLC), justified its action by citing Nkrumah's abuse of power, widespread political repression, sharp economic decline, and rampant corruption.

On April 17, 1967, a group of junior officers of the army reconnaissance squadron based at Ho in the Volta region launched a countercoup; however, intervention by other military units and the lack of a coherent plan on the part of the mutineers saved the NLC. After an investigation, the two young lieutenants who commanded the mutiny were tried by a military court, convicted, and executed. The courts also passed lengthy prison sentences on twenty-six of the reconnaissance squadron's noncommissioned officers who supported the coup attempt.

Pro-Nkrumah elements also plotted against the NLC. In late 1968, the authorities arrested Air Marshal M.A. Otu, who had succeeded Kotoka as general officer commanding the armed forces but not as an NLC member, and his aide, a navy lieutenant, for alleged subversive activity. A military court charged both men with plans to overthrow the NLC and to return Nkrumah to power, but eventually the two were acquitted.

There were no further incidents or threats to the NLC. After a civilian government came to power in October 1969, the armed forces reverted to their traditional roles of maintaining internal security and safeguarding territorial integrity.

Data as of November 1994