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24.05.2019 Article

Right To Information Act As A Law To Hold Chiefs Accountable

Right To Information Act As A Law To Hold Chiefs Accountable

The Right to Information Act which underpins the procedure(s) in requesting for information as of right enshrined in Article 21(1) (f) of the constitution of Ghana has no exemption concerning details of information an individual can request from traditional leaders. Attention ought to be paid to Article 36 (8) of the constitution of Ghana in demanding accountability from traditional leaders.

The supreme court of Ghana in Owusu v Agyei[ 1991] 2 GLR 493, the court took inspirations from Article 36(8) of the constitution of Ghana and refused an unconstitutional traditional immunity which previously immuned traditional leaders(CHIEFS) from accountability in respect of the management of stool properties under customary law.

Article 36(7)(8) reads and I quote in seriatim"

7) The State shall guarantee the ownership of property and the right of inheritance.

(8) The State shall recognise that ownership and possession of land carry a social obligation to serve the larger community and, in particular, the State shall recognise that the managers of public, stool, skin and family lands are fiduciaries charged with the obligation to discharge their functions for the benefit respectively of the people of Ghana, of the stool, skin, or family concerned and are accountable as fiduciaries in this regard."

In line with the above-stated provisions of the law, it must, however, be noted that a chief is a custodian of stool lands and for that matter, same cannot be coined nor couched as owners of same with an emphasis on Article 267(1) of the constitution of Ghana. All stool lands in Ghana shall vest in the appropriate stool on behalf of, and in trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage.

So clearly and by virtue of the office of the administrator of stool lands Act,1994(Act 481) which after its inception appointed an Administrator to the various stool lands we have in Ghana with functions delineated in section 1 of Act 481, the stool lands are public Assets which same must be controlled and managed by the ADMINISTRATOR.

With the RTI Act, a written request could be placed before your chief in demanding for detailed information(s) regarding

(a)his role in the management of stool properties.

(b) Including monies received from the lease of stool lands

(c) And how he has positively affected the lives of his people with Royalties accrued to the stool.

I won't be surprised that, we are getting to "a point in time "where Administrators of stool lands and traditional leaders would be hauled before the special prosecutor or any other investigative body for mismanagement of stool properties and unlawful abuse of revenue accrued to any stool

If you are a traditional leader you should start preparing for the battle of accountable stewardship. No one is above the law.

Dawda Eric (Equity)

Citizen Vigilance for Justice

24th May 2019

Dawda Eric
Dawda Eric, © 2019

This author has authored 78 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: DawdaEric

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