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20.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Supreme Court dismisses chieftaincy case


Accra, July 20, GNA - The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the two factions in the Cape Coast chieftaincy dispute to go back to the Central Regional House of Chiefs' Judicial Committee for amicable settlement since the case brought before it was purely administrative and not judicial.

The five-member panel, presided over by Ms Sophia Akuffo unanimously dismissed the appeal as inconsequential and awarded no cost.

The panel members were Mrs Justice Georgina T. Wood; Prof Justice Modibo Ocran; Mr Justice Julius Ansah and Mr Justice Richard Twum Aninakwah.

The Petitioners had filed the appeal, seeking relief from the Court to reverse an Appeal Court's ruling and enter judgement in their favour, with costs.

The Petitioners included Ekow Garbrah substituted by George Kofi Amonoo, Madam Essie Wassa, Mr Stephen Mends and Mary Dawson Amoah, all from Cape Coast.

The Respondents were the Central Regional House of Chiefs and Nana Kwasi Attah II, Omanhene of Oguaa.

The grounds of appeal were that, the Judicial Committee (JC) of the National House of Chiefs misapplied the provisions of Article 273(C) of the 1992 Constitution by registering Nana Attah's name.

The Supreme Court in its judgement said the appeal did not affect the Respondent's nomination, election and installation but the removal of his name from the official journal with public notices. It further noted that the Regional and National Houses of Chiefs did not research into all registrations that appeared before them. It said the decision to gazette or register a chief's name remained with the House.

The Supreme Court asked: "Is there a duty for the National House of Chiefs to register all matters forwarded to it, even when there are errors?"

It, therefore, averred that the High Court's writ of mandamus was not directed at the National House of Chiefs, but to the Regional House of Chiefs, adding that what was before the Supreme Court was not a case of mandamus - an order from a higher court ordering a lower court or an authority to do a specific thing.

It said a court did not only have to issue a mandamus, because a Lawyer had asked for it but it had to weigh the matter. It said where a chief had been installed, he had the right to be registered or gazette and contended that the grounds for the appeal were wrong in law.

Since the installation of Nana Attah on July 16, 1998 the chieftaincy dispute has dragged on at the Central Regional House of Chiefs in Cape Coast; National House Chiefs in Kumasi; the Cape Coast High Court; the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, both in Accra. Counsel for the Appellants was Mr Yaw Oppong, while Mr Ebo Quarshie was the counsel for the Respondents. 20 July 05