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Opinions of Thursday, 6 November 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Is Asantehene Indeed Above the Law?

Would my readers, please spare me a moment of their precious time while I sail them through some of the latest actions by Asantehene that confirm his overwhelmingly despotic attitude which is normally frowned upon, by jurisprudence as well as tradition and custom?

1. It must be noted that traditionally, Essumejahene is the Head of the Left Wing (Benkumhene) within the traditional setup of Asanteman. When Odeneho Oduro Numapau II, Essumejahene (the Chief of Essumeja), died on 22 August 2003, his younger Benkum Aduana brother by tradition, the then Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II, the Omanhene of Kumawu Traditional area, was elected by Asantehene to undertake the inventory of the items in his palace. Tradition demands that before the ascension of a chief-elect to a stool, and after their death, the items of the palace must be inventoried.

Why is it that in the case of Kumawu, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has been refusing all requests to him to have the items of Kumawu palace inventoried since the death of Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II on 11 July 2007? From reliable information available to me, almost all the precious items entrusted to him have gone missing, including the antiquated - "Ataa Acheampong "Abamo", booty from the Atale Finam war. Why could he not have tasked Kwamanghene, another junior Benkumhene, to supervise the inventory-taking of the items in Kumawu palace? The tradition in vigorous observance is, there must always be inventorying before enstoolment of a successor to a demised or a dethroned chief.

2. When Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II, died, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II did not come to Kumawu to pay his last obligated traditional respect of swearing death oath to the demised Omanhene. It is abominably a taboo for an Asantehene to delegate another Omanhene to perform that duty on his behalf on the death of another Omanhene. Why did he not attend Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II's pre-burial to perform the aforementioned duty, unless he had something to hide? And if he had, or has, anything to hide, what could that be?

3. The "Aduanas" are the occupants of the Benkum stools in Asanteman with Essumejahene as their eldest (Head). Odeneho Oduro Numapau II, Essumejahene, died almost four years before the death of his younger Benkumhene, Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II, the Omanhene of Kumawu. Why is Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, not bothering about installing a chief there, but Kumawu? Is it because he has some personal interest in Kumawu?

If he has any, and those interests border on mischief to the law-abiding people of Kumawuman, then we are informing Asanteman and Ghana that the agreement entered into by Barimah Tweneboah Koduah before self-sacrificing his life to save Asanteman has been reneged on, or gone against, by the current Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

4. Before Barimah Tweneboah Koduah I, self-sacrificed his life for the success of Asanteman Kingdom in their war with the Denkyiras, he was asked what special privileges he would like to claim as a reward for his self-sacrifice. He said, "I would ask that my matrilineal descendants should ever be exempt from capital punishment. No Asantehene should ever take any property belonging to Kumawu". Should these agreed terms ever be broken, then Asanteman must collapse, he said.

Why then is this Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, dubiously taking, or seeking to take, Kumawuman's property – money and land? Has he not gone against the agreement made between Barimah Tweneboah Koduah I on one hand, and Asanteman with the renowned most powerful fetish priest Okomfo Anokye on the other?

If he does not take care, Kumawu will "spit out red saliva" before him. He should not presume our silence for weakness, and our patience for ignorance of not knowing what is happening. We are not incapable of doing anything. At the appropriate time, we shall tell him and Kumawuhemaa our mind.

He has no absolute right whatsoever, to meddle in Kumawu chieftaincy affairs the way he has domineeringly been conducting himself. His deplorably untraditional attitudes do truly confirm the rumours that he teamed up with Kumawuhemaa to cause the abrupt demise of Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II.

When Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II was taken seriously, or terminally, ill, Kumawuhemaa took him to the 37 Military Hospital (Accra); dumped him there; abandoned him without ever returning to see him until he passed away hence the subsequent rumour that bandied about in Kumawu regarding his death.

5. On the untraditional enthronement of one Dr Yaw Sarfo as Kumawuhene on Thursday 30 October 2014, at Kumawu palace with all the ingress/egress doors under locks and bolts, with only Kumawu Nifahene sitting in State to receive the traditional swearing-in drinks, however sanctioned by Asantehene, eyebrows are raised.

A court injunction was in place over the exercise of any enthronement of Kumawuhene, pending the determination of inventorying. Nonetheless, Asantehene ordered Kumawuhemaa and the kingmakers to flout it. There was, and there still is, an appeal filed in the Appeal Court of Kumasi following the dismissal of the "application for judicial review in the nature of Certiorari and Prohibition" by Justice Paul K. Richardson of the Human Rights Court in Kumasi on 17 October 2014. However, Asantehene encouraged Kumawuhemaa, Dr Yaw Sarfo and the Kumawu kingmakers to proceed with the enstoolment, regardless.

Why is he rushing to install a chief in Kumawu but not in other places in Asanteman where the stools have been vacant longer than that of Kumawu? Moreover, he has no prerogative over Kumawu chieftaincy. Otumfuo ordered the Kingmakers on Tuesday when he summoned them to his Manhyia Palace, to enstool Dr Yaw Sarfo on the following Thursday. However, an application to the police for a permit to execute any such public exercise takes five days to mature. Even if any such application was made, from Tuesday to Thursday was just three days. The forced enthronement within three days following the order by Otumfuo is a blatant breach of Public Law Order.

What is happening in Ashanti region? Why has their traditional Overlord been granted such unfettered rights to do as he wants, when he wants, and with impunity?

The following may shed more light on why Asantehene is obstinately desirous of having his way in the Kumawu chieftaincy. In 1975, a compensation of 20 Million Cedis was paid by the government into Kumawuman accounts by the government for her use of Kumawuman lands for Government Forest Reserve, Government Game (Wildlife) Reserves etc. In those days, One Cedi was equivalent to US$1.00. Barimah Asumadu Sakyi II stealthily withdrew 1.5 Million Cedis from the accounts leaving 18.5 Million in the accounts. His dubious withdrawal of money from the accounts culminated in a protracted Court case that lasted almost the entire duration of his occupation of the Kumawu Koduah Stool. The accounts were blocked on orders by then Head of State, General I.K. Acheampong and the Courts. Since then, all yearly compensations have been paid into same accounts.

It is alleged that Kumawuhemaa has taken a Statement of Account from the Bank of Ghana to show to Asantehene upon which he has agreed to take a 50% share of whatever sum of money is in the accounts.

Furthermore, Asantehene has collected some money from a Norwegian business tycoon upon dubiously arranging to sell to him 240, 000 hectares of Kumawu Afram Plains land. The land has been leased to them for US$2.50 per year per hectare for 50 years. However, in 1998, Kumawuhene leased some lands in Afram Plains for US$48.00 per hectare per year for 20 years. But the going international leasehold price is US$50.00 per hectare per year. Why did Asantehene in collusion with Kumawuhemaa go for US$2.50 as quoted above? Where is the difference between US$50.00 and US$2.50 (i.e. US$47.50) going? Who is collecting that? Calculate US$47.50 by 240,000 per year for 50 years to see how Kumauman will be losing out to whomever the unknown swindler, or swindlers are.

Finally, this same Asantehene has sold a large parcel of land in AMANTEN near Atebubu in the Brong-Ahafo region to some Chinese businessmen who are currently aggressively working on the land. The area is not his, yet, he has sold it for 20 billion Old Cedis. The chiefs, queens and elders of the area are hugely disturbed but feel incapable of challenging Asantehene because of the power he wields in Ghana. Anyway, they will be dragging him to Court. Why should he be allowed to go about selling lands like that; reaping where he has not sown?

There is no telling, concluding from the audacious propensity at which he has been committing, infractions with impunity that he is above the laws of the land of Ghana. He had previously personally stated it clearly to the elders of Kumawuman that he can do whatever he likes in Ghana without anyone able to tell him anything.

As every Frenchman has their Waterloo, so shall he get his comeuppance sooner?

Rockson Adofo