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26.06.2005 Regional News

Timebomb Ticks At Juaso

By Ghanaian Chronicle
Timebomb Ticks At Juaso

Chieftaincy dispute not over yet, says destooled chief

FOLLOWING THE declaration by the National House of Chiefs that it recognized Nana Gyeabour Safortwie Sarpong as the chief of Juaso, an uneasy calm amid rising tension has descended on the town as the destooled chief has indicated his reluctance to relinquish control of the Black Stool and other regalia.

The Chronicle's investigations have established that beyond the periphery of the calm is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at the least provocation by either side of the chieftaincy dispute.

Confirmation of the volatility of the situation surfaced when this reporter visited the town on Thursday April 28, 205, following snippets of information that all was not well there.

The destooled chief, Nana Owusu Akyaw Prempeh minced no words when he told The Chronicle enquirers at Juaso that, he " would go to the Supreme Court if the Court of Appeal dismissed his case and that should the Supreme Court throw it out, he would reinstate the substantive case at the national House of Chiefs.

To gain possession of the regalia, Nana Gyeabour Sarfrotwie Sarpong emphatically told The Chronicle on phone that, " we are taking steps to re-possess the black stool and the palace" and that " it would not be too long."

According to Nana Akyaw Prempeh, he was destooled by "rebels" through fraudulent means, lost his case before the Juabenhene and subsequently sought redress at the Ashanti Regional House of chiefs, where he also lost.

Not satisfied, he went to the National House of Chiefs and while it was still pending, he carried it further to the High Court to quash the decisions of the Juabenhene and the Regional House of Chiefs.

He explained that he lost on the grounds that he should have presented his case six months earlier.

He consequently appealed to the Appeal Court in Accra against the decision of the High Court and further went on to file another application at the Kumasi High court against "the minority rebel petitioners" who he named as Nana Kofi Agyeman Siriboe and Nana Oware Kankam.

He said the basis of the suit was that they had obtained the judgment of the Juabenhene and that of the regional House of Chiefs by forging the signature of the Denchemenasohene at the time he was in London.

The obviously determined Nana Owusu Akyaw Prempeh disclosed that a motion was again filed at the same court for an interim injunction restraining anybody, party or institution from processing any document or doing anything to destool him.

He said he was surprised that whilst the case is still pending, the national House of Chiefs ignored it and went ahead to state its recognition of Nana Gyeabour Sarfrotwie as the chief of Juaso.

On the black stool, which is the symbol of authority that one has been enstooled, he stated clearly that he was not going to give it up until the final determination by the Court of Appeal and if he lost, he would continue to the Supreme Court.

The destooled chief, who claimed that the townsfolk massively supported him, revealed that if that too went against him, he would return to the National House of Chiefs.

He denied that he had shown gross disrespect to the late Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, by failing to honour a summons from him.

He said he did not attend to the call because he was indisposed at the time and had communicated to the King, his inability to appear before him some two days earlier.

Nana Sarpong, on his part told me that, he was installed on September 10, 1998 at Juaso, swore the oath of allegiance to the Juabenhene the following day and subsequently gained recognition of the National House of Chiefs on March 15, 2005.

When asked how he could rule his people without the black stool, he replied. "We are taking steps to re-possess it."

He debunked claims by Nana Akyaw Prempeh that 97% of the people recognized him (Akyaw Prempeh) as chief and alleged " it is because of his intimidations. You let us re-possess the black stool, then we will see the number of supporters I have," he added.

When this reporter got through to the Acting District Chief executive, Dr. Lord Gyamfi Fenteng on phone, he dismissed any sign of a security threat saying that Nana Owusu Akyaw is trying to create the impression that there would be trouble if he were rejected.

He said "few people are trying to ferment trouble" but that had always been the case for the past four years, adding that the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) was aware and would be called in if that arose.

According to Dr. Fenteng, not until the court decided, the District Security Committee would not take sides and send in the police to claim the Black stool for the recognized chief.

He said the DISEC would continue to provide protection for Nana Sarfrotwie Sarpong on the basis of the recognition by the National House of Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the Konongo Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Theo K. Gawe has given the assurance that the police are monitoring the situation closely and appealed to the people of Juaso to remain calm.

It would be recalled that violence erupted in 1999, culminating in the death of one person and the burning up of the police station, following the installation of Nana Gyeabour Sarfrotwie Sarpong.

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