A recount of the ‘hustle’ military men who were arrested and imprisoned under the Rawlings’ regime had to go through, and how they managed to escape the huge prison walls into exile, is what Braimah Issaka, a former military driver of former President JJ Rawlings did during his dialogue with TV Host Kofi Adomah.
Touching on an experience he described as ‘painful’, Braimah said he was picked up together with five other military men at his home during the time of revolution, shortly after the murder of some three judges and a former army officer. As though being arrested without any explanations wasn’t enough, they were made to stay in prison for about 8 months and no one bothered to look into the reasons behind their capture to ascertain any truth, he explained.
“Most of the people they picked up, it was as a result of affiliations, for fear that if you are let go, you may bring up trouble someday. If you are a group of 5, they pick up all of you. They picked up myself and 6 others at my house. I didn’t know if they’d have killed us had we not run away but what I understand is that though it was fair enough that they had imprisoned us as though we were blameless, we felt embittered because no investigations were made before the arrest. We slept in prison for 8 months, and there was enough time for investigations to be done to ascertain the real issues on the ground”, he said.
He narrated in details, how these men managed a coordinated jail break in a number of guard rooms and three prisons.
“A friend of mine who escaped to Togo when we were caught; Farouk, came back to Ghana and to prison quarters, since my brother was a soldier in Ho, he impersonated him, got a pass and entered the prison to request to see me. He told me everything and all the plans; and we decided we could just escape from the inside”
“That Sunday, we, Muslims were fasting whilst the Christians were at church, we got the prison note and waited till they had closed and we told them about the plan. But our initial plan failed because they suspected us but fortunately we realized we could jump over the wall into the sea and find our way to the road and that’s how we did it”.
“We were about 8 persons who broke jail from Ussher Fort and run to James Fort and from there, we got divided, I ceased a taxi and then we went to take over the armoured cars at Broadcasting at airport and then others went to Nsawam to free the other prisoners,” Braimah Issaka noted.
He said, even though about 200 soldiers escaped from prison, many lost their lives whilst trying to leave the country adding that those who made it to Togo were about 35.
“The plan was to release the prisoners first and then see if we could do something about Rawlings. So the objective of getting us all out, we did that but some people couldn’t get into safety”.
“For those who escaped, some went to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and some to Togo. In all, all those who went to Togo, were about 35 to 40 but eventually some went back to Ghana and died. Others went to Denmark, Norway, Britain, Canada, France and the US. Those who were in Ivory Coast also split up and went to other countries so you can’t really put a figure on the specific figure but on that very day of the jailbreak, we were approximately 200 soldiers who left Ghana”.
Clarifying what necessitated the jailbreak, Mr. Issaka noted how he and the other men planned their ‘salvation’ to prove a point to Jerry John Rawlings at the time that they could fight on their own without his help.
“At that time we felt we were young, and vibrant, we caused the revolution so we can show him that we can do a jailbreak without his help”.