A PROTRACTED chieftaincy dispute between two lineages at Akyem Maase in the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area in the Eastern Region has stalled the funeral and burial of Opanin Marfo, the Abakomahene of Maase, who died in September 2002.
The body has been at the Kibi Government hospital morgue for the past six years.
The cost of maintaining the body at the morgue was said to have ran into several millions of cedis while the feuding parties are moving from one court to the other to avoid the cost being passed on to either of them.
The late chief died in September 2002 and when he was about to be buried, one Opanin Kwakye Wiafe Dankwa, the Abusuapanin from Ataa Bawa line, one of the lineages in the conflict, placed an injunction on the burial claiming that the deceased chief was not a royal and could not be buried at the Royal Cemetery.
A source close to one of the factions told DAILY GUIDE that the family of the deceased chief and the people of Akyem Maase were worried over the situation, and were therefore calling for the quick resolution of the case.
According to the source, the chieftaincy dispute in the area had been a protracted one since 1958, during the reign of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
“In 1957, during the political turmoil of the then Gold Coast leading to independence, at the nomination of a successor to Nana Twum-Antwi, two candidates emerged. The two candidates were Kofi Barning from the Afi Tantia line and the opposition party, and Kwaku Antwi Bosompem from the Akosua Ataa Bawa line and a supporter of the ruling party. Confusion ensued at Akyem Maase followed by disturbances. The government therefore appointed a committee headed by Justice Coussey to inquire into the matter and Kwaku Antwi from the Akosua Ataa Bawa lineage and the ruling party C.P.P. was adjudged the properly nominated candidate by Gazette No. 1846 of 30th August 1958.
“The full report was never made available to the general public and he was installed as the 13th chief of Akyem Maase in 1958. He ruled for forty-two years and died in 2000,” our source said.
Nana Kwaku Antwi Bosompem later on ascended the throne and was alleged to have made a conscious effort to disintegrate the family by appointing another Abusuapanin from the Ataa Bawa lineage in addition to the existing one from the Afi Tantia lineage, which divided the family into two factions.
The source stated that matters came to a head in 1990 when Nana Kwaku Antwi Bosompem unilaterally completed forms, submitted by the National House of Chiefs to indicate the number of lines of succession for every Royal family, that there was only one line of succession for Akyem Maase Fokuona Royal Family and that it was the Akosua Ataa Bawa line.
“That caused the other faction, the Afi Tantia line, to summon him before the Akyem Abuakwa Judicial Committee for redress.
“The committee ruled that there were two lines to the Akyem Maase Royal Family and that Afi Tantia faction was eligible to nominate a candidate to be enstooled as a chief of Akyem Maase,” the source indicated.
Nana Kwaku Antwi Bosompem was said to have appealed to the Regional House of Chiefs against the judgment, and when judgment was about to be given by the Regional House of Chiefs Tribunal, he passed away.
Opanin Wiafe Dankwa, the Abusuapanin of the Akosua Ataa Bawa lineage was invited to substitute Nana Kwaku Antwi Bosompem for judgment but he declined, giving the reason that he was not a chief and that he had to install a chief for the chief to substitute Nana Kwaku Bosompem. The Abusuapanin Twum-Baah, therefore put an injunction on the installation of the chief at Akyem Maase until the case had been resolved.
The source said the case has been pending before the Akyem Abuakwa Judicial Committee and that no chief has been installed yet.
According to the source, while the above case was pending, the Abusuapanin Kwame Wiafe Dankwa tried to install Kwame Adu Asare as the chief of Maase in 2006 so a fresh injunction was placed on the installation.
“This second injunction is pending at the Akyem Abuakwa Judicial Committee yet Kwame Adu Asare has been carried shoulder high, and wanted to claim that the Okyehene had permitted him to be installed. This was going to generate riots and disturbances because the other faction also carried another person shoulder high to signify that he was also being installed as a chief of the town.
“But for the timely intervention of the police, the matter would have degenerated into a serious fracas similar to what has happened elsewhere in the country,” the source alleged.
By Wisdom Peter Awuku