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Opinions of Friday, 4 December 2009

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Should Otumfuo Have Destooled The Chief Of Atwima?

In November 1998, Ghanaians were hit with horrifying news of the gruesome murder of two of the nation’s finest police officers by land guards at Ablekuma. The two officers, Jerry Wornoo alias Taller, of the Police Striking Force Unit, and Richard Owusu Sekyere, alias Kweku Ninja, of the Police Academy and Training School; were murdered in cold blood when they went to erect pillars on a piece of land they had legally acquired.

The murder of the two policemen eleven years ago has now receded into history but the murderous activities of land guards still remains a challenge prospective land buyers have to grapple with. Land guards seem to have now become an acceptable phenomenon in our society, especially in the cities and big towns where land is very scarce. These are thugs who are usually hired by landowners to protect their land before and during construction works. Most land guards are usually armed with offensive weapons, which accounts for the bloody clashes and loss of lives at construction sites anytime they are confronted.

A critical look at the situation however reveals that what actually promotes the business of land guards is the multiple sale of land, which is fast gaining notoriety in recent times. All manner of persons, including traditional rulers who are custodians of the land have found this illegal business very lucrative, and anyone who legally acquires a parcel land with all documents intact must either hire thugs to protect the site or prepare to battle it in court it with one or more persons also with legal documents.

It is for this reason that the recent destoolment of the Chief of Atwima, Nana Kofi Agyei Bi, must serve as a lesson to other chiefs engaged in this nefarious activity. The chief was accused by twelve people of multiple land sales, which led to his destoolment after the case was heard at the Manhyia Palace.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu must be commended for that wise and bold judgement. Chiefs and traditional rulers play a very important role in the development of their communities and must do what will promote and not retard development. They are the custodians of the land and since land is a very important factor of production, chiefs form the very core initiators of the development of their communities. Multiple sale of land by chiefs does not only breed conflicts but it also puts investors off since no investor will be interested in an area where land acquisition can lead to loss of lives.

Above all, traditional rulers have to live above reproach since they are also the custodians of our cherished values and customs. It is due to the unwholesome activities of some chiefs that some people have in recent times advocated the elimination of the institution. The chieftaincy institution still remains very relevant even in this modern times and the gains it has made must not be erased by a few miscreants.

At a period in our political history when partisan politics is threatening to make ranks nonsense of the unity in our towns and villages, traditional rulers who conduct themselves well remain the symbols of unity. They must therefore act according to the dictates of our time-honoured cultural and traditional values.

It is the hope of all that traditional rulers engaged in multiple sale of land will be deterred by the destoolment of the chief of Atwima. All houses of chiefs and paramount chiefs should also be bold enough to take such crucial decisions as the Asantehene has done when chiefs fall foul of the law. It is only in this way that those bringing the name of the chieftaincy intuition into disrepute can be flushed out.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni[azureachebe2@yahoo.com]

The Writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. You can read more of his works at www.maxighana.com