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General News of Thursday, 24 June 2004

Source: GNA

Resort to alternative dispute resolution - Justice Akuffo

Accra, June 24, GNA - A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo on Thursday said extra-judicial dispute resolution constituted one of the most effective alternative means for dispute settlement without the usual cost.

She has, therefore, urged Ghanaians especially chiefs, to resolve to arbitration rather than going to courts since that improved judicial efficiency by reducing courtroom litigation to matters incapable of mutual resolution.

Justice Akuffo, who is also the Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) of the Judiciary Council, made the call at the inauguration of a nine-member joint Teshie-Lenshie Chieftaincy Arbitration Committee at Teshie in Accra.

Members of the Committee were selected from the Ga Traditional Council, the Ga Dangme Council, the ADR, and representatives from the six royal gates of Teshie as well as the Teshie-Lenshie Reunification Council (TELEREC) to settle all chieftaincy and other issues in the Teshie-Lenshie community.

The Committee, which was set up last year, is mandated to research and codify all customs that lead to the installation of chiefs; produce a blue print for the administration of Teshie lands and to recommend appropriate compensation for victims of chieftaincy disputes.

At the inaugural programme, which was well attended by the people of the community, chiefs and queen mothers of the Ga Traditional Council, Ministers of State, and the Mayor of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Justice Akuffo said adopting alternative dispute resolution would ensure improved communication, cost effectiveness and time efficiency.

The Supreme Court Judge noted that the resolution of disputes through mutual means like the ADR had a backing in the laws of Ghana under Section 72 of the Courts Act of 1993; Act 459 which had innumerable advantages.

She mentioned other benefits derived from ADR as the promotion of communal peace and social development and fostering of win/win solutions where all parties became satisfied at the end of a resolution.

Mr Theophilus Armah-Kwaobotwey, Chief Executive of TELEREC, said the Teshie community had been plagued with chieftaincy disputes for many decades and continued to hamper the progress of the community with about 55 per cent of its children currently out of school with parents having no money to cater for them.

He said leaders of the area have been spending their money over the years dragging each other to court over the one who should succeed the chief of the area who died 25 years ago.

Mr Armah-Kwaobotwey intimated that the endless family feuds in the area had currently led to the splitting of the three royal gates into six with each claiming the right to provide the next chief of Teshie. He said that necessitated the establishment of the Resolution Committee since the search for judicial solution to the impasse had become very tedious and expensive in terms of human, material and financial resources.

He explained that the Committee would be sitting twice weekly to deliberate on issues of disputes in the area including seven of such issues that were originally before the Ga Traditional Council.

Other speakers at the ceremony including Minister of State in-charge of Fisheries and MP for the area, Mr Eddie Akita, Mr Kwadwo Agyei Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Mr Stanley Nii Adjiri-Blankson Mayor of AMA, all of whom, stressed the need for peaceful co-existence.

They said countries surrounding Ghana were plagued with conflicts and Ghanaians should do everything to promote and maintain the relative peace being enjoyed in the country.

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