April 3, 1978: Acheampong bans all organizations opposing "Union Government"

There was also considerable physical intimidation of UNIGOV opponents, who could expect very little police protection. Nevertheless, in spite of all the advantages that the government enjoyed, it was obvious, as March 30 drew near, that the UNIGOV campaign was faltering. The Ad Hoc Committee on Union Government failed to resolve just how the military would participate in the UNIGOV trinity. There was considerable confusion over whether soldiers should retire from the military or could remain on active duty. Against the background of increasingly chaotic social and economic conditions, this uncertainty added to the feeling that it was time for all soldiers to return to barracks. Neither did Acheampong's penchant for blaming Ghanaians for being a "problematic people" help him to convince those who were skeptical about his government's ability to lead the nation to prosperity. Recognizing that he was probably going to lose, Acheampong intervened on referendum day and demanded that all polling boxes be taken to regional centers for counting, rather than being counted at individual polling stations. The electoral commissioner, Justice I. K. Abban, tried to challenge this directive, which he knew would allow for tampering with the vote. He was fired and had to go into hiding. Initial results had showed a defeat for UNIGOV, but the next day the new electoral commissioner announced that UNIGOV had won with 55.6 percent of the vote. Anticipating opposition from his opponents, on April 3, 1978, Acheampong quickly banned The Association of Recognised Professional Bodies (ARPB), the Ghana Association of University Teachers (GAUT) and the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). Their organizations were warned that "the days of leniency were past." Almost immediately, the SMC arrested prominent UNIGOV opponents like Komla Gbedemah, Victor Owusu, and William Ofori Atta, as well as several university lecturers and students. By June 1978 most of these opponents were either in jail or in hiding.


From “The History of Ghana”-Roger Gocking 2005.