Obaatanpa Radio Online

TODAY IN HISTORY: E K Kotoka, the man who overthrew Nkrumah’s govt is killed in coup attempt

  • On the 17th of April, 1967, Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka, the man who engineered the overthrow of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s government in 1966 was killed in an abortive coup attempt involving junior officers.
  • He was killed at a spot which is now part of the forecourt of the Kotoka International Airport, where his statue stands.
  • Operation Guitar Boy was the code name for the attempted coup d’état on April 17, 1967 in Ghana. Although unsuccessful, the coup resulted in the assassination of Lt. E. K Kotoka.


On 17th April, 1967 a group of junior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces in an abortive coup assassinated Lt. Gen. E. K. Kotoka, then Ghana’s Chief of the Defence Staff.

This attempted counter-coup against the NLC was instigated by Lt. Samuel Arthur, Lt. Moses Yeboah and 2nd Lt. Osei-Poku with the support of several senior officers, including W.O. l. George Ofosu and 119 soldiers.

Leading members of the National Liberation Council, NLC that ousted Dr. Kwame Nkrumah from office in February 24, 1966


The operation was named “Guitar Boy”, after a popular song by Nigerian musician Victor Uwaifo, in which the West African water goddess, “Mami Water” had given him a guitar and asked him to make good music. After the attempted coup, “Guitar Boy” was banned by the NLC from radio airplay in Ghana.

Lt. Gen. Kotoka was shot and killed by Lt. Yeboah at Ghana International Airport. The airport was later renamed Kotoka International Airport in honour of the General, and the spot on which he was killed now houses a life-size memorial statue.

Lt. Arthur attempted to gain access to the ammunition depot of the 1st Recce Regiment. In a struggle for the keys, Captain Avevor – the depot’s quartermaster – was shot and killed.

For their role in the deaths, Yeboah and Arthur were sentenced and executed by firing squad at a military range near Labadi Beach. The other conspirator, Osei-Poku, received a thirty-year prison sentence, and the other members of the regiment also received prison terms.

Video credit: GCGhana Library


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