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Opinions of Sunday, 19 October 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Asantehene is the Most Powerful and Famous King in Ghana

There is nobody in our present Ghana who is as powerful and famous as the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Whatever he says goes. Even President Mahama prostrates to him. The Chief Justice is like a speck before him. He is the Ghanaian God on earth, Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient as he is.

Find below a narration of one of the instances proving how powerful this old Londoner and old Canadian of Ghanaian origin is. Somebody who was Mr Nobody in London and Canada years back is now the one who dictates who the President of Ghana becomes and who becomes Kumawuhene.

Having probably consulted with President Mahama and the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Woods, dictated his wishes, the Human Rights High Court judge’s hands became tied. He had to declare a verdict based on “An order from above”. He did not only refuse to play in court the evidential video recorded evidence alleging an occurrence of bribery, but also, dismissed the case without hearing. Subsequently, he directed the queen to proceed with installing her candidate as the paramount chief of Kumawu.

Whose order could it? Is it Mrs Wood’s? There is no justice in Ghana. Same Asantehene who was on the airwaves to have influenced the outcome of Election 2012 has done it again in the Kumawu Chieftaincy case. When will the Ghanaian courts behave responsibly without undue interference of justice from supposedly powerful persons?

Here we go. Before the restoration of the Ashanti Confederacy in 1935 and up until 1949, laws were made and approved for the traditional governance of the Asante Kingdom. These laws were compiled, and passed on to the Commissioners. They have remained legal since then. They were compiled by J.S. Warrington and are called Warrington Notes.

Article 13 of the Warrington Notes on STOOL DISPUTES states inter alia, “The offering and taking of bribes to influence an election by candidates, elders and young men was declared in 1941 to be illegal. If a candidate does so he loses his right to election on that occasion (only); and if a stool holder does so it is a ground for destoolment. The nomination, installation or election of a person not entitled to the stool is also a ground for destooling the person who does any of these acts”.

From Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s book, “THE POSITION OF CHIEF IN THE MODERN POLITICAL SYSTEM OF ASHANTI” the underlying has been stated at pages 210 to 212.

“1938. Item 5. The offering and accepting bribes in connextion with election and destoolment of Chiefs.

Asantehene: This subject was discussed at the last session of the Council, but at that time the Council had no power to make by-laws, therefore our decision in the matter could not have legal effect. As the Council has now been granted powers to do so, the subject is introduced again so that the necessary by-laws may be made.

Mampong Representative: the practice of offering and accepting bribes in connexion with election and destoolment of Chiefs is as bad as it is detrimental to the welfare of the country. It should, therefore, be prohibited and made a punishable offence. I suggest that by-laws be passed by the Council providing that any Chief found guilty of such offence shall be destooled and any young man found guilty of the same offence shall be imprisoned for six months with hard labour.

Juabenhene: I support the view of the Mampong representative. A trader always wants to gain on his investments; in the same way if a person is compelled to spend all his money and to borrow in order to bribe the Elders of a Stool before he is elected to that Stool, he would naturally try to pay off his debt with Stool money and to have some profit whilst he is on the Stool. Moreover, as he is conscious of the fact that he might be destooled on the least pretence, he thinks more of his personal interest than the welfare of the Stool. Such a state of affairs is deplorable, and therefore its cause which forms the subject of our discussion should be removed. In the olden days affairs were not in such a deplorable state as they are to-day, and destoolments were of very rare occurrence.

Nsutahene: Bribery in connexion with destoolments and estoolments is bad and should be stopped. I therefore support the previous speakers.

Agonahene: I support the views expressed by the previous speakers and would further suggest royals should not be allowed to contest for a Stool. If and when a Stool becomes vacant the Elders should approach the Queen-Mother for a candidate and in consultation with the Gyase and Ankobea Chiefs and the members of the Stool family, she should nominate a candidate and the Elders may accept or reject her nominee without allowing any of the royals to influence them in any way in their decision.

Nkoranzahene: In certain cases if a Stool becomes vacant, wealthy subjects of the Stool try to bribe the Elders concerned in order to gain election. Under these circumstances, the royals too start to give bribes in order to ensure election to the Stool. Whilst, therefore, agreeing with the previous speakers, I should like to suggest further that any subject of a Stool who tries to contest for that Stool should be banished from the Division concerned.

Oyoko Clan: We agree with the previous speakers and would add that certain Chiefs instigate the subjects of another Chief to destool their Chief. By-laws should therefore be passed to the effect that any Chief who is found guilty of such an offence will be destooled.

Asantehene: The matter under discussion is so important that I should like all present to listen attentively. It is a disgrace for any Chief to neglect to train his nephews who will succeed him in future. The practice of offering and accepting bribes in connexion with the enstoolment or destoolment of Chiefs is also very bad and should be stopped. I request the Committee which was appointed yesterday to deal with the question of the payment of annual ‘sheep’ in respect of cocoa-farms to deal with this subject also.

The committee appointed later submitted its suggestions, which the Confederacy Council adopted. ‘After a lengthy discussion the Committee was of the opinion that the practice of people offering and accepting bribes to destool or enstool a Chief has become very common and has been the source of political unrest in this country.’ It made the following recommendations:

1. It shall not be lawful for any member of a Royal Family to contest for a Stool whenever a Stool becomes vacant, and he shall not canvass for votes from any Elder of the Stool. 2. Any member of Royal Family who contests, offers, or accepts any bribe in any form in any enstoolment case shall be guilty of an offence and shall be struck off the roll of the Royal Family and shall forfeit his right of succession to the Stool. 3. It shall not be lawful for any Elder or Elders to nominate, elect, or install any candidate on any Stool other than a member of the Royal Family of such Stool. 4. Any Elder or sub-chief who offers or accepts a bribe in an enstoolment case, or nominates, elects, or installs any candidate other then a member of the Royal Family of any such Stool, or breaks away from the Elders’ meeting with the intent to prolong or delay the enstoolment of a Chief shall be guilty of an offence and shall on summary conviction thereof be removed from his office and destooled. 5. Any subject of a Stool who offers or accepts a bribe in an enstoolment case or interferes with or canvasses votes for any candidate shall be guilty of an offence, and shall on summary conviction thereof be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months with hard labour”.

My readers must please help place this very educative publication on all social networks that they have access to. It is informative. Stay tuned for more such info. For Asantehene to have all these laws thrown out by a judge when credible video recorded evidence shows an occurrence of bribery, then he is indeed the most powerful being in Ghana. The judge is also the most credible judge in Ghana only to be surpassed by William Atuguba.

Rockson Adofo