Robert Kotei

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Robert Kotei
Member of the Supreme Military Council
In office
1976 – June 4, 1979
President Fred Akuffo
(Head of state)
Personal details
Born 1935
Died June 26, 1979
Accra, Ghana
Nationality Ghana Ghanaian
Spouse(s) Nancy Kotei
Relations James Kotei
Children 9
Profession Soldier
Religion Christian
Military service
Allegiance Ghana
Service/branch Ghana army
Years of service  ? - 1979
Rank Major General
Commands Chief of Defence Staff
Chief of Army Staff

Major General Robert Ebenezer Abossey Kotei (1935 – 26 June 1979) was a soldier, politician and track and field athlete. He was once the Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces and also a member of the Supreme Military Council which ruled Ghana between 1975 and 1979. He was executed in 1979, following a military coup. He also held the Ghanaian high jump record for many years.


Robert Kotei competed for Ghana at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff, Wales. He was the only Ghanaian to win a medal at the games.[1][2] He won the bronze medal in the high jump event with a jump of 6 feet 7 inches (2 m)[3] He won the Men's AAA Championships in 1960.[4] He subsequently set the Ghana High Jump record in London on 16 July 1960. This record stood for 36 years until 1996.[5] He also became a member of the Ghana Olympic and Commonwealth Games Committee in 1973.[6]



Robert Kotei (then a Colonel), was the Commander of the First Infantry Brigade of the Ghana army in the early 1970s. He was instrumental in foiling a coup plot to unseat the then ruling National Redemption Council (NRC) government in 1973.[7] He became the Ghana army commander in April 1976. Two years later, he was appointed the Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces. He retired from the army in 1979.


Kotei was appointed commissioner (minister) for Information by the NRC military government led by General Acheampong. He also worked as the commissioner for Housing.[8] He became a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) government formed on 9 October 1975. This replaced the NRC. His appointment was because he was the incumbent army commander. He became Chief of Defense Staff in 1978, following the palace coup that replaced General Acheampong with Lt. General Fred Akuffo.


On 4 June 1979, the SMC was overthrown by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) led by Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings. Following the bloody coup, Kotei surrendered himself to the authorities at the Achimota Police Station in response to requests that previous political office holders report. Some soldiers apparently "later went to the Police Station and brutalised him when they got to know he was there". His assets were also confiscated to the state.[8] After an investigation that was apparently incomplete[9] and a trial held in camera, Kotei was sentenced to death. It is alleged however that Kotei and his colleagues were probably never tried.[10] On 26 June 1979, Kotei and five other senior army officers, including two former heads of state, Lt. Gen. Fred Akuffo and Lt. Gen. Akwasi Afrifa, were executed by firing squad.[11] Along with the other officers, he was unceremoniously buried at the Nsawam Prisons Cemetery in Adoagyiri, near Nsawam in the Eastern Region.[12] He left behind nine children, including a two-year-old.[8]


All eight senior military officers executed in June 1979 were exhumed and their bodies released to their respective families for reburial in 2001.[13] On 27 December 2001, two of the eight, Major General Kotei and Air-Vice Marshall Boakye were buried with full military honours at the Osu Military Cemetery in Accra.[14]


  1. ^ "Commonwealth Games - High, Long and Triple Jump Results" (PDF). High, Long and Triple Jump results from all Commonwealth Games from 1930 to 2002. Jumps Coach. p. 14. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Commonwealth Games Medallists - Athletics (Men)". Historical British athletics statistics site. Athletics Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Commonwealth Games". Commonwealth Games Federation. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  4. ^ "AAA Championships (Men)". Athletics Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  5. ^ "Men (All-time lists)". Ghana Home Page. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Around the National Olympic Committees" (PDF). Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. 1973. p. 297. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  7. ^ "The Great Juju Plot". Comments and Analysis - (DRUM: June 1974). The Ghanaian Observer Online. April 25, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  8. ^ a b c "General Kotei's sister testifies before NRC". General News of Tuesday, 27 April 2004 (Ghana Home Page). Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  9. ^ "Rawlings To Defend Executions At NRC". General News of Friday, 11 April 2003 (Ghana Home Page). Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  10. ^ "The Social Context" (PDF). National Reconciliation Commission Report Volume 2 Part 1 Chapter 4. Ghana government. October 2004. p. 91. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  11. ^ "Review of Petitions" (PDF). National Reconciliation Commission Report Volume 2 Part 1 Chapter 6. Ghana government. October 2004. pp. 176–180. Retrieved 2007-06-06. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Rawlings To Defend Executions At NRC". Ghana Home Page. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  13. ^ "Ghana reburies past in quest for reconciliation". General News of Friday, 28 December 2001 (Ghana Home Page). Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  14. ^ "Two Ex- military generals re-buried at Osu cemetery". General News of Friday, 28 December 2001 (Ghana Home Page). Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
Preceded by
High jumpGhana
1960 – 1996
Succeeded by
Awuku Boateng
Military offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo
Chief of Army Staff
1976 – 1978
Succeeded by
Major General Odartey-Wellington
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo
Chief of Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Lt. General Joshua Hamidu
Political offices
Preceded by
Commissioner for Information
? – 1978
Succeeded by
Colonel Parker H.S. Yarney
Preceded by
Commissioner for Housing
? – ?
Succeeded by