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23.06.2005 General News

Rawlings attacks judiciary, gov’t

Chronicle

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has condemned the recent conviction of the paramount chief of the Kpone traditional area, who doubles as president of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, Nii Tetteh Otu II, and the Chief of Appolonia, Nii Tei Adumoah II for contempt by an Accra High Court judge, Justice Felicity Amoah.

According to him, the misuse of the judiciary for political persecution would not augur well for peace and stability in the country.

The former President made the condemnation last Friday at Kpone when he paid a solidarity visit to the two chiefs, who were released from the Nsawam prisons after serving their three-day custodial sentences, slapped on them on Friday, June 10, this year.

He stated that, this total disrespect for our traditional authorities is the result of the filth in the present government which he has been speaking about, yet no one takes him seriously.

A nine-member parliamentary group from the minority accompanied the ex-president.

They are Nii Ayi Mankata, Odododiodio, Nii Amasa Namoale, Dadekotopon, Asumen, Shai/Osudoku, Abayatei, Sege, Alex Tettey-Enyo, Ada, Eric Opoku, Asunafo South, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Asutifi South, E. T. Mensah, Ningo/Prampram and Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey, Kpone-Katamanso.

In a solemn mood and in complete disbelief of what he was being told triggered off the incarceration of the two chiefs, former President Rawlings asked if it was necessary for the judge to jail the chiefs or they were treated so because the Kpone traditional area is a National Democratic Congress (NDC) stronghold.

According to the former leader, the filth in the government is being extended across the length and breadth of the country, and instead of finding a solution to the ever mounting crisis in the country, government in its desperation, decided to besmear even innocent traditional leaders with the spreading filth.

Politically speaking, he said, these were people who could not be dissuaded from their conviction and truth, and again wondered if these chiefs were disgraced because of the strength of the NDC in the area.

“Is that justice in democracy?' he asked, Referring to the judiciary, he stated that the judge who convicted the former officials had also been called and was being judged in heaven with the brand of judgement that he had pronounced on this earth.

Former President Rawlings said the treatment of the two chiefs was not only shameful but also annoying and recalled his calls on commanders, the judiciary, traditional authorities and opinion leaders to call government to order, which he said was being misconstrued.

He called on the chiefs to be bold and unite their front because they were reaching beyond their bounds, attempting to cover-up for their corruptible acts that had led to the sufferings of the citizenry by taking this offensive posture against respectable and innocent people.

“Chiefs from the North, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta and across the country must be concerned because they are tampering with the reverence and respectability of the traditional authority, and the chieftaincy institution for that matter,” he stated.

He went on to say that, government was presently facing serious embarrassment, which they could not handle and to salvage their misdeeds, had to resort to desperate destructive means like this.

The former President prevailed on the Members of Parliament present to convey the news about the ill-treatment of the chiefs to parliament for discussion and called on the Ga chiefs to take the issue very seriously, urging them to be bold, “for, Jesus, Mohammed and traditional beliefs thrive on the truth.”

On the mass acquisition of Ga lands, the former President said those in power today were benefiting greatly, leaving absolutely nothing for the indigenes, who had no place to cultivate and prepare kenkey for their meal after fishing.

He cited as a classic example, an occasion when he had release a portion of land behind the Castle, the seat of government, that was strategically left for security reasons, to be used for family purposes by the Osu people, whose lands had all been taken by the state.

He went on to say that such injustices occur only when bad people are in government and would not like bad people to go to jail, but rather throw good people in.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kpone-On Sea and Appolonia towns gave a rousing welcome to the 'returnees.'

At Kpone, preparations went ahead to receive the two chiefs when they were to be released. At exactly 3.15 pm, a convoy of vehicles numbering about 20, tooting their horns, arrived in the fishing town, amid singing and dancing to herald them back home.

Rituals were performed at the shrine and later, a white sheep was slaughtered at the entrance of the palace to cleanse the chiefs of the abomination of imprisonment.

At Appolonia, the convoy arrived as late as about 7:30pm, but the otherwise serene town rose and the youth and elderly waxed in jubilation.

In 1994, Alhaji Tettey-Kwao, Seth Gblie Narteh and Joseph Mensah Akpeng, as plaintiffs, instituted judicial action against the Appolonia Mantse, Nii Tei Adumoah II, Nii Tetteh Otu II, Paramount Chief of Kpone, as defendant, at an Accra High Court for declaring that the lands of Appolonia could be alienated only with the consent and concurrence of the plaintiffs' clans.

They were as well to account for all monies received from sand-winning all these years, and an injunction was sought to restrain the defendants, agents and servants from further alienating lands without the consent and concurrence of the plaintiffs' clans. The two reliefs, except the accounting for all moneys from sand winning, were granted.

A contractor undertaking rehabilitation of a feeder road from Appolonia to Kpone-Bawalesie in the Kpone traditional area wanted to win gravel from the area for the project, so they approached the Appolonia chief, Nii Tei Adumoah II, who in turn referred the said contractor to the Kpone Traditional Council.

Late last year, the traditional council met and agreed that the contractor could win the gravel for the project since the area would benefit from it.

On January 31, this year, one Joshua Tetteh, who holds a Power of Attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, arrested one Aikins Opolu to the Ashaiman Divisional Police Headquaters for action.

Plaintiffs immediately filed for committal proceeding o February 28, 2005. The Kpone Traditional Council was joined in the order.

Justice Felicity Amoah then slapped three days' jail each plus fines of ¢30 million each on the two chiefs and ¢20 million on the traditional council, or in default, suffer one month imprisonment.

From Appolonia, the Okyeame, speaking to this reporter, stated that they believed that there exists a huge political hand in the incarceration of the chiefs.

According to him, it was surprising to note that the Appolonia chief's opponents wore New Patriotic Party (NPP) T/shirts as they jubilated on the day the chiefs were jailed.

He stated that it was unfortunate that the chiefs had to be jailed because of a government project which was to benefit the entire community.

Joshua Tetteh, who is presently holding the Power of Attorney for the plaintiffs, minced no words in saying that, the fact that the chiefs were convicted warranted their destoolment.

He mentioned that one of the three gates to the Kpone paramount stools, Bediako-We, would have to prepare a candidate to begin an enstoolment process, after consultation with the Kingsmakers.

Opinion gathered by The Chronicle in Ga Dangbe lands suggested that the judge should have tampered justice with mercy to avert a chieftaincy dispute, Kpone being one of the few traditional areas in the Greater Accra Region that was enjoying peaceful chieftaincy.

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