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13.11.2003 Regional News

Wassa Fiase Chieftaincy Brouhaha Continues

By Chronicle
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... rival chiefs trade accusations

The chieftaincy crisis that has hit the Wassa Fiase Traditional Council in the Wassa West district of the Western region continues unabated with the trading of accusations and counter accusations among the feuding parties.

Odeneho Akrofa Krukoko, whom a faction in the dispute claimed to have destooled, is still claiming that he is the substantive Omanhene for the Fiase traditional area since the basis his adversaries claimed to have used to destool him has been set aside by the Court of Appeal upon his appeal to the court.

Meanwhile, Osagyefo Kwamena Enimil, the former Anglican priest, is also insisting that he is the paramount chief for the area. This means that Wassa Fiase at the moment has two chiefs.

Information reaching The Chronicle indicates that few months after the Court of Appeal had set aside the conviction of Odeneho Akrofa Krukoko by a Sekondi High Court which formed the basis for his alleged destoolment, a faction of the traditional council went to court and succeeded in obtaining an injunction to restrain Krukoko from holding any traditional council meeting at Benso, the traditional capital.

Just around the same time, a bird has whispered into the ears of The Chronicle that, the former Anglican priest in the Dunkwa district of the Central region, Rev. Chico Morgan, now known as Osagyefo Kwamena Enimil, may also be slapped with a court injunction from holding himself out as the Omanhene for the disputed area.

Already, Odeneho Akrofa Krukoko, who is an uncle to Osagyefo Enimil, has accused the former Anglican priest of withdrawing a whopping amount of ¢2.7 billion from the accounts of royalties accruing to the traditional council. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is reported to be investigating this allegation.

Amid this confusion, a group calling itself Concerned Wassa Citizens Association, attempted to call a news conference at Tarkwa last Tuesday to state their position on the impasse but it became a nine-day wonder as the Tarkwa police cordoned off the venue of the intended press conference on the grounds that Odeneho Krukoko had been served with an injunction not to hold the meeting.

Though the group argued that they were an independent body representing the Wassa Fiase people, that was not enough to convince the police, so they had to call off the press conference and instead, issue a press statement to state their position on the impasse.

In the subsequent press statement, the association quoted section 15 of the Chieftaincy Act to argue that the traditional council has no business in advocating for the non-acceptance of Odeneho Krukoko, whose name still appears in the local government bulletin as the substantive Omanhene for Wassa Fiase.

The said chieftaincy Act reads: "subject to the provisions of this Act and any appeal therefrom, a traditional council shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any case or matter affecting chieftaincy which arises within the area, not being one to which the Asantehene or a paramount chief is a party."

The statement, which was signed by Messrs. Oman Ocran and Rev. J.O. Bilson, vice chairman and secretary respectively to the association, said they still recognized Odeneho Akrofa Krukoko as the Omanhene for the Wassa Fiase people and called on all Wassas to rather express their concern about the alleged ¢2.7 billion that had been withdrawn from the accounts of the traditional council at the time the standard of education had fallen in the area.

This development should be a matter of concern to all well meaning Wassa Fiase citizens to support the current crusade aimed at uprooting the self - imposed Omanhene, the so called Osagyefo Enimil and his agents from dooming the Wassa state at all cost though the SFO is investigating the huge withdrawal at our request, the statement said.

According to the two signatories, the circumstances surrounding the imprisonment of Krukoko, after being found guilty of contempt, had its root from his earlier decision to set aside 10% of the royalties accruing to the traditional council to set up the education fund to help raise the standard of education among the Wassas, which some of the divisional chiefs, particularly, Kwandoh Brempong, did not agree.

According to the statement, Nana Kwandoh, who was then the Benkumhene of the traditional area, reportedly sensitized some of the divisional chiefs to kick against the laudable idea that had been designed for the youth because should Odeneho succeed in implementing the plan, they, the divisional chiefs, would be deprived of their greater percentage of the royalties.

Oman Ocran and Rev. Bilson further stated in the statement that, because of this, Nana Kwandoh Brempong allegedly organized the chiefs to thwart the Omanhene from assuming office as President of the Wassa Fiase traditional council by allegedly employing the niece of Odeneho, who is now deceased, to battle her uncle with chieftaincy disputes.

In the interim, Nana Kwandoh Brempong had succeeded in getting appointed as the acting president of the council to enable him to resource Adowa Sakyiwaa, the niece of Krukoko, from the coffers of the traditional council, the statement added.

The Wassa Citizens Association further alleged that Odeneho's niece later brought destoolment charges against her uncle and also went to court for an injunction to be placed on him but unfortunately, the petition was never heard by the House of Chiefs, so the case was finally sent to the Sekondi High Court.

According to the signatories, just around the same time the destoolment charges were sent to the High Court, Nana Kwandoh Brempong, whom they accused of being the architect behind the whole confusion that has engulfed the area, and his allies, wrote a resolution which was later passed by the divisional chiefs to call on Odeneho Krukoko to assume office as president of the traditional council.

Unknown to Odeneho, the so called resolution calling on him to assume office as president of the council was only a ploy designed to trap him with contempt charges since they had already gone to the court to restrain him from holding himself out as a chief.

Three days after assuming office, as ordered by the divisional chiefs, the impending case at the Sekondi High Court was called and a charge of contempt was preferred against him. Odeneho was subsequently tried and sentenced to 14 days imprisonment without any option or fine.

According to the statement, the day after his conviction, Rev. Chico Morgan was sent to Benso, the seat of the paramountcy, by Nana Kwandoh Brempong to be installed as the next Omanhene, contrary to customary practices of the Wassa Fiase people.

Messrs. Ocran and Bilson quoted article 275 of the constitution which states that a person shall not qualify as a chief if he has been convicted of high treason, high crime or an offence involving the security of the state, fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude.

They argued that nowhere was it stated that a person convicted of contempt was disqualified from becoming a chief as the adversaries of Odeneho were trying to imply.

To the association, the supremacy of the constitution as enshrined in Article 1, clause 2, cannot be disputed, and therefore the Wassa Fiase norms interpreted by the divisional chiefs, if they exist at all, cannot be superior to the constitution.

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