… After 26 Years Of Wrongful Destoolment
Nana Osei Kwadwo II has sworn the oath of allegiance to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, to become the next Omanhene of the Bekwai Traditional Area.
The new Chief, who was the Omanhene of Bekwai for 26 years under Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh and Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, last Monday, ascended the Oyoko Ayeboafo Stool of Bekwai, 26 years after his wrongful destoolment in 1991.
The decision was based on a chieftaincy dispute in 1990, when two kingmakers of the area accused Nana Osei Kwadwo of illegally collecting tolls from settler cocoa fanners.
He was subsequently arraigned before a Circuit Court in Kumasi, where he was found guilty and fined GH¢5 (then ¢50,000) during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the Chief appealed against the decision of the Lower Court at the High Court, where he won.
The case, however, did not die. In 1991, the two kingmakers took it to the Court of Appeal, where Nana Osei Kwadwo was sentenced to a day’s imprisonment and a fine of GH¢10 (then ¢100,000), after setting aside the two judgments given by the Circuit and High courts.
Under the circumstance, the PNDC government, under the chairmanship of Jerry John Rawlings, ceased recognising the Bekwai Paramount Chief as such, and asked him to hand over all stool property to the then PNDC District Secretary.
Nana Osei Kwadwo, however, filed a criminal appeal at the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which led to the PNDC government withdrawing its recognition of him in 1991, which he won.
The Supreme Court had, by a 3-2 majority decision on July 11, 2008, set aside a conviction and sentence by the Court of Appeal that imposed a day’s prison sentence on the former chief.
The court, presided over by five eminent judges, also ordered the refund of a fine imposed on Nana Osei Kwadwo II by the Court of Appeal, if it had already been paid.
Justices of the Supreme Court, Sophia Akuffo (incoming Chief Justice), Kpegah and Atuguba ruled in favour of the appeal, while Justices Dr Date-Baah and Georgina Wood (outgoing Chief Justice) dissented.
The court noted that the whole allegation against the appellant was motivated by bad faith in the form of a conspiracy to destool him, and supported with perjured evidence to convict him.
It was also pointed out that the charge against the appellant was defective, in that the particulars of offence were inadequate to sustain the charge of stealing against him.
“There is no offence known to our laws as illegal collection of Stool Land Revenue, either under the Administration of Lands Act, 1962 (Act123), the relevant law, or any other statute,” one of the judges submitted.
The reinstatement of Nana Osei Kwadwo, who swore allegiance to the stool elders of Bekwai on April 13, 2017, follows the demise of Nana Karikari Appau II on February 28, 2016, after a short illness.
The Queenmother, Nana Adwoa Pinamang II, upon the advice of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu, in the face of the Supreme Court ruling, considered the reinstatement of Nana Osei Kwadwo II, culminating in his enstoolment and swearing in.
Last Monday, May 15, 2017, Nana Osei Kwadwo, led by the Juabenhene, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, and Barima Akwasi Offe, Okogyeasuo, the Kokofumanhene and elders of Bekwai, including the Queenmother, Nana Adwoa Pinamang II, and the Akwamuhene, Nana Ntiamoah Amankuo III, swore the oath of allegiance to the Asantehene at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi to ascend the Oyoko Ayeboafo stool of Bekwai.
Nananom described the reinstated Bekwai Omanhene as very respectful, humble and patient, and advised him not hold his unfortunate purported destoolment against anybody.
They also advised him not to meddle in politics. Otumfuo Osei Tutu II commended the Bekwai Omanhene for his patience, and urged him to unite the people and work for the development of Bekwai in peace.
He said the reinstatement of the chief is on the strength of the Supreme Court verdict of July 2008, in consultation with stool elders, and the qualities of patience of the chief, as extolled by Nananom of the Asanteman Council.
The Asantehene also commended the Akwamuhene of Bekwai, Nana Ntiamoah Amankuo III, who, until the reinstatement of Nana Osei Kwadwo last Monday, acted as the President of the Bekwai Traditional Council, for competently steering the affairs of the BTC, since the demise of Nana Karikari Appau II a year ago.
From Sebastian R. Freiku, Manhyia Palace, Kumasi