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General News | Jun 4, 2004

CA gives JC powers over chieftaincy matters-Appeal Court

GNA

Accra, June 4, GNA - The Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed a chieftaincy appeal brought before it by Nana Yeboah Afari Obuogyan II, Nifahene of the Kwahu Traditional Area, and four other divisional-chiefs, against the Omanhene, Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng the 11.

In a unanimous decision, the three-member panel, presided over by Mr Justice F. M. Lartey, ruled that the Chieftaincy Act (CA) empowered the Judicial Committee (JC) of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs to adjudicate on the matter.

The court, therefore, ordered that the matter be sent back to the Judicial Committee of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, where it came from.

The two other panel members were, Mr Justice J. Dotse and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.

Daasebre Boateng commenced chieftaincy proceedings against Nana Obuogyan, Nana Obeng Akrofi, Nana Apeadu Kokora, 11, Nana Danso Ababio, the second, and Nana Atuobi Yiadom, at the JC of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, when they unilaterally elevated themselves to statuses contrary to custom.

The Kwahu Omanhene sought a declaration from the JC that the purported unilateral elevation of Nana Obuagyan as the Okwahu Aduanamanhene under the stool name of Osabarima Yeboah Afari Obuogyan II, was unlawful.

Daasebre Boateng stated that this unilateral elevation of Nana Obuogyan was against custom and usage, and ran contrary to the Chieftaincy Act, 1971 (Act 370) and Article 270 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

He sought a further declaration that the purported breakaway or seceession by the five chief from the Nifa Division of the Kwahu Traditional Area, and their purported elevation as wing or divisional chiefs of Okwahu Aduanaman or paramountcy, were both unlawful. The Kwahu Omanhene also prayed the JC for a perpetual injunction to restrain the five chiefs from styling themselves, and acting as the Omanhene and wing chiefs.

After they five filed their defence, Nana Boateng applied to the JC for an interlocutory injunction to restrain Nana Obuogyan from conducting and styling himself as Paramount Chief of the Okwahu Aduanaman, and the other four, of the positions they had assumed. Before the motion could be heard, the five chiefs filed another interlocutory application to challenge the jurisdiction of the JC of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, to determine the petition.

The objection of the five chiefs to the JC was that since the matter in their view, involved a constitutional interpretation of Article 270 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, it was the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, that had the constitutional mandate to determine it.

The Committee dismissed it and held that since the matter bordered on chieftaincy, the Committee, it was which was vested with jurisdiction in the matter.

The five chiefs appealed against the ruling to the JC of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi, but failed to pursue the appeal. Thereafter, they proceeded to file an application at the Koforidua High Court for the prerogative writs of certiorari to quash the ruling, and also sought prohibition to prohibit the JC of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs from sitting on the petition.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Kwasi Appeah, dismissed that application.

When the matter resumed before the JC of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, counsel for the chiefs raised an objection, but the committee dismissed his arguments.

He filed another application for prerogative writs, but it was dismissed.

Undaunted, the five chiefs filed a petition at the JC of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi to invoke the committee's original jurisdiction to determine the matter.

The Committee unanimously dismissed the petition, and still undeterred, the five appealed against the ruling of the committee at the Supreme Court.

However, when the case came up for hearing, they failed to appear and the matter was dismissed as withdrawn.

When the matter came up for hearing at the JC of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, the five chiefs refused to appear before the committee, claiming that by section 27 of the Chieftaincy Act (Act 370), their notice of appeal constituted a stay of the proceedings at the forum.

The Committee, nevertheless, heard arguments put forth by Daasebre Boateng's solicitor on his motion for interlocutory injunction to restrain the five chiefs from styling themselves as paramount and divisional or wing chiefs.

The Committee heard the argument for the simple reason that its attention was drawn to the fact that section 27 of the Chieftaincy Act which now affects final judgment not interlocutory decisions, has been amended by NRCD 226.

When the five were served with hearing notices of the date the ruling was to be delivered, they rushed to file another application for the prerogative writs of certiorari and prohibition, but this time, at the Nkawkaw High Court.

The case was later transferred on the directive of the Chief Justice, to the Koforidua High Court.

It was the ruling of that application which formed the subject matter of the appeal, which the Court of Appeal dismissed Friday.

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