The supreme authority of the Asante kingdom, Asanteman Council, presided over by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has sanctioned one of its members for the massive destruction of property at the Juaben Oil Mills.
After a two-hour ruling on the matter, the council ordered the Ejisuhene, Nana Aboagye Agyei, to pay ¢110.2 million to the Juaben Traditional Council (JTC) for the action which followed a bitter land dispute at Asotwe between the Juabenhene and the Ejisuhene.
The fine is to cover the cost of destruction at the oil mills resulting from activities of rampaging youth, said to have acted on the orders of the Ejisuhene on March 21, 2005.
At the Manhyia Palace at the weekend, the council established that Nana Aboagye Agyei was the one who ordered the youth in his traditional area to engage in the massive destruction of property of the Juaben Oil Mills involving more than 2000 palm trees, as well as other items.
“We are of the strong opinion that it was at the instance of the defendant (Ejisuhene) that the items were vandalised and that the defendant should pay the amount involved to Nana Juabenhene.”
Commenting on the findings, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said chiefs in his domain had no right to hide behind chieftaincy and land disputes to cause confusion in Asanteman and warned that he would not hesitate to destool the Ejisuhene if he engaged in similar acts in future.
He said as Asantehene, he had the responsibility to ensure peace in his area and violent chiefs would not survive under his rule.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu indicated that the Asanteman Council was ready to resolve all disputes in Asanteman, which included the Ashanti Region and Brong Ahafo Region, and would, therefore, not countenance anybody who thought the only way to put his or her case across was to resort to violence.
The Bonwirehene, Nana Bobie Ansah, who attempted to force the delay of the ruling by introducing a last-minute petition to join the matter, was traditionally arrested and fined 12 sheep.
The council held that the land in dispute belonged to the Juaben Stool explaining that the council's decision was based on the incontrovertible evidence adduced by Nana Otuo Serebour during the two-year arbitration.
Following the disturbances at Asotwe on March 21, 2005, Otumfuo Osei Tutu, at an Asanteman Council meeting held on March 31, 2005, constituted a four-member committee chaired by the Bechemhene, Nana Fosu Gyeabour Akoto II to investigate the disturbances and to establish the true owners of the land at Asotwe.
Other members of the committee were Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampem, Tepahene; Baffour Kwaku Ofori II, Omanhene of Asuboa; Baffour Osei Kwame, Otumfuo's linguist, and Mr Charles Osei Bonsu, secretary, Asanteman Council.
The Juaben Oil Mills is a joint venture between the Juaben Traditional Council and the Juaben Oil Mills Company Limited. Initially it was a state farm established by the General Acheampong government in 1977 until the NDC government decided to sell the farms under the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) in 1994.
The Juaben Traditional Council bought the land and expanded the farm.
In its findings, the committee said the Juabenhene produced an authentic document from the National Archives to buttress his claim that the Ejisu-Juaben boundary was determined in 1909 by the then Chief Commissioner of Ashanti, and that the disputed land at Asotwe had since been part of Juaben Stool lands.
It said there was a tenancy agreement between Juaben as landlords represented by Nana Yaw Sarpong II, late Juabenhene, and his elders and the Asotwe Stool represented by Nana Kwame Sarpong and his elders and the Ejisu Stool also represented by Kyeame Kofi Kronpew where it was agreed that the Asotwe lands belonged to Juaben and that the Asotwe people should pay £30 a year to the Juabenhene.
The committee said in his evidence in chief, the Ejisuhene, who did not produce any documents, contended that Asotwe shared boundary with Juaben, and that after the Yaa Asantewa war against the British in 1900-1901, Asante became part of the British Colony and the British government empowered District Commissioners to demarcate boundaries between towns.
Nana Aboagye Agyei further stated that the District Commissioner, called Philip A.H. Pott, demarcated the boundary between Asotwe and Juaben on August 27, 1909 but Captain Armitage, who was then the acting Chief Commissioner for Ashanti, did a fresh demarcation which made Asotwe part of the Juaben Stool land.
However, the committee found no merit in the defence of Nana Aboagye Agyei and consequently ruled in favour of the Juabenhene.
Story by Kwame Asare Boadu