Ignatius Kutu Acheampong

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Ignatius Kutu Acheampong
Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.jpg
6th Head of state of Ghana*
In office
13 January 1972 – 5 July 1978
DeputyNone – (1972 – Oct 1975)
Lt. Gen. F.W.K. Akuffo (1975–1978)
Preceded byEdward Akufo-Addo
Succeeded byLt. Gen. F.W.K. Akuffo
Personal details
Born(1931-09-23)23 September 1931
Gold Coast
Died16 June 1979(1979-06-16) (aged 47)
Accra, Ghana
Spouse(s)Faustina Acheampong
Military service
Allegiance Ghana
Branch/service Ghana Army
Years of service1951–1978
UnitRoyal West African Frontier Force
Battles/warsCongo Crisis
*Head of State of a military government

Ignatius Kutu Acheampong (/əˈæmˈpɒŋ/ ə-CHAM-PONG) (23 September 1931 – 16 June 1979) was a military head of state of Ghana who ruled from 13 January 1972 to 5 July 1978, when he was deposed in a palace coup. He was later executed by firing squad.

Early life[edit]

Acheampong was born to Catholic parents of Ashanti origin. He attended the Roman Catholic schools at Trabuom and the St Peter's school (also Catholic) at Kumasi, both in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. He attended the then Central College of Commerce at Agona swedru in the central region of Ghana.[1] He was commissioned in the Ghana Army in 1959, and served as part a member of the UN peacekeepers during the Congo Crisis.[citation needed]


Acheampong led a bloodless coup d'état to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Progress Party and its leader Dr. Kofi Busia on 13 January 1972.[2] He became Head of State and Chairman of the National Redemption Council (NRC), which was later transformed into the Supreme Military Council on 9 October 1975, with Colonel Acheampong (promoted to General) as its chairman.

Notable historical changes and events introduced or implemented in Ghana during the period under Acheampong include: the change from the imperial to the metric system of measurement, change from driving on the left to right-hand drive in "Operation Keep Right", "Operation Feed Yourself" (a programme aimed at developing self-reliance in agriculture), "National Reconstruction" (aimed at promoting employment and skill for workers), face-lift projects in cities, and the reconstruction/upgrading of stadia to meet international standards.[citation needed]

There were, however, widespread accusations of both the encouragement and endorsement of corruption in the country under his rule.[3]

Union Government and overthrow[edit]

Acheampong sought to perpetuate the military in government by introducing a model called "Union Government" or "Unigov" for short.[4] This became a very contentious national issue which was vehemently opposed by many. A referendum held on 30 March 1978 to accept or reject this concept was widely believed to be rigged, though the official results were 60.11% for and 39.89% against.[5] The electoral commissioner at the time, Justice Isaac Kobina Abban (who later became Chief Justice), went into hiding from the government for fear of his life after coming under pressure to manipulate results.[6]

Acheampong was deposed in a palace coup on 5 July 1978 and succeeded by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Fred Akuffo.[4] He remained under virtual house arrest at Trabuom in the Ashanti Region until the advent of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).[7]


Acheampong, was court martialed and executed along with General E.K. Utuka by firing squad on 16 June 1979, 10 days prior to the execution of former Heads of State (Gen. Afrifa and Gen. Akuffo) and other senior military officers (Amedume, Boakye, Felli and Kotei), following the 4th of June revolution that brought Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and the AFRC to power.[7]


Acheampong was married to Faustina Acheampong. His grandson is American football player Charlie Peprah[8].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John S. Pobee (1987). "Religion and Politics in Ghana, 1972 -1978. Some Case Studies from the rule of General I. K. Acheampong". Journal of Religion in Africa XVII (1). BRILL. 17: 44–62. doi:10.2307/1581075. JSTOR 1581075.
  2. ^ "The Security Services" (PDF). Report of the National Reconciliation Commission Volume 4 Chapter 1. Ghana government. October 2004. Archived from the original (pdf) on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  3. ^ El-Alawa, Razak. "Remembering General Kutu Acheampong (1) – Graphic Online". Graphic Online. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "The National Redemption Council Years, 1972-79". Ghana news website. Ghana.co.uk. Archived from the original on 13 April 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  5. ^ "Elections in Ghana". African elections database. Albert C. Nunley. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  6. ^ "History of Ghana – Post Independence Ghana". 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration of Ghana. Ghana government. Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2007. In furtherance of the UNIGOV policy, a referendum was held on 30 March 1978 to ascertain the wishes of Ghanaians on the issue. Halfway through the referendum, the Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Justice Isaac Kobina Abban, a judge of the High Court, had to give up his job and fled into hiding, apparently to save his life.
  7. ^ a b "Review of Petitions E. 4th June, 1979 – 23rd September 1979 (AFRC REGIME)" (PDF). Report of the National Reconciliation Commission Volume 2 Part 1 Chapter 6. Ghana government. October 2004. p. 176. Archived from the original (pdf) on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  8. ^ Crouse, Karen (6 February 2011). "To the Super Bowl via Ghana: A Packer Family's Journey". The New York Times. p. SP1.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Akufo-Addo
Head of state of Ghana
Succeeded by
Fred Akuffo
Head of state
Preceded by
Kofi Busia
Prime Minister
Preceded by
J. Kwesi Lamptey
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Henry Mensah
Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs
Succeeded by
Amon Nikoi
Preceded by
T.D. Brodie Mends
Minister for Information
Succeeded by
Colonel C.R. Tachie Menson