Wenchi, in the Brong Ahafo Region is sitting on a time bomb, and sooner than later there, could be bloody clash between two feuding factions laying claim to the Wenchi Stool.
Recently, one of the claimants stormed a courtroom with guns and knives to the surprise of many. It took the intervention of a Police team numbering 20, led by the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Commander, ACP Patrick Sarpong, to avert what would have been a bloody clash in a courtroom.
What is shocking this time is that the danger posed is being blamed on no less a person than the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodore Wood. She is accused of meddling in the chieftaincy crisis, pending before the Sunyani High Court, by having the trial judge, Justice Ofosu Quartey, transferred under a very bizarre circumstance.
Prior to the sudden transfer, Justice Quartey, was hearing a contempt case brought against Nana Atoaa Sraman Gyeduaa III, Queenmother of Wenchi Traditional, Nana Krabiri Kwakorakwa Yententu II, Adontenhene and Acting President of Wenchi Traditional Council, Prof. Albert Owusu Sarpong, an ex-Ghana’s Ambassador to France and Nana Aduse Poku, Gyaasehene of Wenchi Traditional area.
But the Chief Justice, without recourse to the contempt case pending before Justice Quartey, transferred him to Accra without notice, thereby heightening tension in the area. Since last June, the contempt case has not been called and there is no date in sight for its hearing, meanwhile tension continues to rise in the Wenchi township. Many are afraid the worse could happen.
Indeed, The Herald, has cited a letter dated June 13, 2013 emanating from the Wenchi Municipal Assembly and signed by Rufai Mohammed, the Municipal Coordinating Director, confirming the rising tension in the area as a result of the chieftaincy crisis.
The letter titled: “Non-Compliance With Court Rulings On The Wenchi Chieftaincy Matter” revealed that “at a joint meeting of the Municipal Security Committee (MUSEC) and the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) on June 11, 2013 at the Regional Co-ordinating Council, it came to light through the briefing of the Registrar of the Regional House of Chiefs that parties in the Wenchi Chieftaincy divide are not fully complying with the ruling of May 9, 2013”.
“This has the potential not only to destabilize the relative peace in the Wenchi Traditional Area, but also far reaching ramification on the development in the municipality,” the Municipal Coordinating Director, warned.
It said, “REGSEC through MUSEC has directed that all parties in the Wenchi Chieftaincy divide should comply fully with the ruling of the court and use legal channels to address and resolve their differences on the matter”.
The letter which was copied to Queenmother, the Krontihene of Wenchi Traditional area Nana Owusu Ansah Kokroko II, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, among others personalities cautioned “all parties in the Wenchi Chieftaincy dispute to desist from flouting the directives of the said rulings and that any party that acts in contravention of the directives in the said ruling would be held responsible for any security breach in the Wenchi Traditional Area”
The Krontihene of Wenchi Traditional Area, had cited the Queenmother and three others for contempt over the purported installation of Prof. Sarpong as the Omanehene of the Wench Traditional Area in blatant disregard for a suit pending at the Sunyani High Court, seeking to restrain them from nominating and installing a new Wenchi Paramount Chief.
On June 10, this year when the contempt case was called, agents of the accused persons were found to have entered the courtroom guns and cudgels to the surprise of many. The strange situation led to the trial judge directing the arrest of four accused person including the queenmother.
They were, however, spared following pleas from their lawyers, but the case has since stalled and Justice Quartey, later transferred to Accra. There are claims that if care was not taken, the tension could shoot up into a bloody clash or a repeat of the cold blooded murder of the Omanhene of Seikwa, Nana Kweku Dwuma Ankoana II also in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Earlier, Nana Kokroko had sworn an affidavit on March 15, 2012, that the Queenmother and the Adontenhene before the Judicial Committee of the Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs (BARHC) that the Krontihene had the preserve and prerogative as a customary duty to preside over matters concerning the nomination, election and installation of the Omanhene for Wenchi Traditional area.
He said, the Queenmother’s decision to inform the Adontenhene to submit or make available a candidate to the Amanfo kingmakers for consideration as the Omanhene was wrong, uncustomary against the established custom of Wenchi.
He said the purported submission of names of a candidate for consideration by the Adontenhene based on the information from the Queenmother to the Amanfo kingmakers was null and void, because it was against custom.
An order of injunction was granted restraining the Queenmother from performing any customary duty which was the preserve of the Krontihene and also to restrain the Adontenhene from acting upon any advice, information and directive from the Queenmother.
It said, the Judicial Committee of the BARHC on May 9, 2013 gave its judgment in the matter that within a reasonable time but not more than two weeks from the day of the judgment, the Krontihene convenes a meeting of the Amanfo kingmakers and send two of their members to request the Queenmother for a candidate to be considered for the Omanhene Stool.
The Committee said, the Queenmother upon the receipt of the request should begin the necessary consultation with all the interested parties within a reasonable period and that all persons concerned must stick within their domain and act timely and being a family affair did not award cost.
Nana Kokroko in the affidavit said that on the same day of the judgment, the Queenmother and the Adontenhene filed an appeal against the ruling and the orders of the Committee.
The appeal was made to the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi that the judgment, ruling and decision were against the weight of evidence adduced; all the consequential orders made by the Committee were wrong in law and should be set aside or reversed.
Nana Kokroko said notwithstanding the pending of the appeal, the Queenmother and the Adontenhene had circumvented the outcome of the appeal and had purportedly nominated and selected Professor Sarpong as the Omanhene of Wenchi Traditional area under the stool name, Nana Anye Amoanpong Tebreko.
He said the conduct of the Queenmother and the Adontenhene was not only uncustomary, but they failed to follow the due customary process of nominating, electing and installing an Omanhene.
Nana Kokroko said out of the three royal gates of the Wenchi Traditional area, two gates were never involved or consulted as custom demand before the purported enstoolment was done.
In addition, the elders and other royals of the Queenmother’s royal gate were also left out contrary to a ruling by a Sunyani High Court presided over by Mr Justice F.K. Opoku on July 19, 2012.
He said, currently there was a suit pending before the Judicial Committee of BARHC initiated by the two other royal gates last year.
The affidavit said, the conduct of the Queenmother and the Adontenhene defied the authority of the National House of Chiefs (NHC) by prejudicing the outcome of the appeal which was still pending.
It said, since the appeal was still pending, the matter was subjudicate and any conduct or act that tended to prejudice or interfere with its fair hearing amounted to contempt of court as in this case.
“That by their conduct, they have taken away what the appellate court that is the NHC has to pronounce its judgment on,” the affidavit added.
Nana Kokroko noted that in chieftaincy matters appeal against a final judgment operates as a stay of execution of the judgment and a stay of execution did not confer on the parties fresh or new rights.
He explained that the purpose of stay of execution was to maintain the status quo until the final determination of the appeal; hence any attempt to alter the prevailing situation was intended to undermine the judicial powers of the appellate court.
Nana Kokroko pointed out that “In this matter there was no Omanhene of Wenchi after the Supreme Court judgment on October 26, 2011 on the Wenchi Chieftaincy matters”.
In addition; as at the time of the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the BAHRC which the Queenmother and the Adontenhene appealed against no Omanhene of Wenchi had been customarily enstooled except what they had purportedly done.
“I prayed the court to punish the Queenmother and the Adontenhene for acting in contempt of court,” Nana Kokroko added.