January 8, 1964: JB Danquah re-arrested after Ametewee assassination attempt on Nkrumah

After Constable Ametewee’s failed assignation attempt of the president, security was heightened and all possible opponents of the president were under surveillance. The surveillance would yield another fruitful outcome when the Chief Security Officer authorized Danquah’s arrest and detention under the PDA on January 8, 1964, nearly two years after Nkrumah had pardoned him. His arrest came against the backdrop of his alleged participation in Seth Ametewee’s aborted assassination attempt on Nkrumah on January 2, 1964. Danquah was allegedly found to possess his own signed hand-written speech which he intended for broadcast in the wake of the success of the Seth Ametewee’s attempted assassination on Nkrumah. Dr. M.N. Tetteh makes it clear that Danquah and other traitors were detained “after the Chief Security Officer had made sure that adequate reasons were given to justify’ their detention, and that such people “were detained before Nkrumah could be informed of their detention”.

It also became clear upon investigation that, according to the testimony of two members of the police band, a leading Opposition politician in the country persuaded them to shoot Nkrumah as he “approached the band to congratulate them after their performance” at Flagstaff House (see June Milne’s “Forward Ever” and the “Exemption Committee Report”). It also became clear later that the co-conspirators of the assassination plot including some top police officers, strangled one of their own whom they had suspected of making attempts to expose them. To cover their misdeeds however, they alleged that their strangled colleague had committed suicide by throwing himself via a third-floor window onto the ground, a window with iron rods that the body of a baby will have a hard time going through. The leading Opposition politician in question in the country at the time was Danquah, since all the other Opposition members were outside the country plotting with foreign security services to overthrow Nkrumah and destabilize the country, were in detention under the PDA for various crimes against the state, or were on board with Nkrumah and the CPP government building and developing the country. 

After Nkrumah was overthrown the former Head of Special Branch of Ghana Police Service, Mr. John William Kofi Harlley., now vice-chairman of the National Liberation Council testified as follows on Wednesday, 17th May, 1967 at 11:15 a.m, when the Chairman asked: did you know the reason why he (J.B Danquah) was sent to prison? He answered in this manner:

“Two days after the second attempt on his life by the late Constable Ametewee, Kwame Nkrumah verbally asked me to be in charge of the interrogation unit at Burma Camp, investigating the attempt on Kwame Nkruamah’s life. When I arrived at Burma Camp I saw Dr. Danquah among those brought there for interrogation. After interrogating him (Dr. Danquah) I concluded that he was innocent of the incident, so I released him and duly reported it to the President. On the 8th January, 1964, I was made the Acting Commissioner of Police, and I learnt later on that Dr. Danquah had been arrested and sent to detention, where he remained till he died”.

 Danquah, just like his nemesis Nkrumah remains a polarizing figure in Ghana’s early political history, dogged by accusations of stoking industrial unrest, consorting with the CIA and being behind assassination attempts of the president.