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Regional News of Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Source: thechronicle.com.gh

Kumawu Queen mother not liable for contempt – Court

An application for contempt by Abusuapanin Kwaku Gyekyei, alias “Wanonwi” of Odumasi Aduana Royal family and Opanin Kwabena Kodua, Principal Member of the Anananya Aduana Royal family of Kumawu, against Nana Serwaah Amponsah, Kumawumanhemaa and four others have been thrown out by a Kumasi High Court.

The other respondents are Abusuapanin Kwame Acheampong, Nana Okyere Baffour, Baffour Atta Tweneboah and Dr. Yaw Sarfo.

Lawyers Kwabena Owusu-Sekyere and Hagar Addo represented the respondents in court in a case in which the applicants sought to cite the respondents for contempt because the installation of then Dr. Yaw Sarfo, the fifth respondent, were calculated to impair, prejudice and obstruct the due administration of justice.

In his written submission to the court, Mr. Charles Agbanu of Yaanom Chambers in Kumasi, counsel for the applicants explained that his clients and respondents engaged in a chieftaincy dispute over the occupancy of the Kumawu stool for which a chieftaincy petition was filed against the respondents at the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs to seek an order of injunction, among others.

He said while the petition was pending the applicants further filed an injunction before he Judicial Committee of the House of Chiefs to restrain the respondents from installing an Omanhene for Kumawu. The applicants said even though the application for injunction was served on the respondents they participated in the public ceremony and purportedly installed a Kumawuhene.

Lawyer Agbanu argued that the respondents’ willful and conscious conduct in installing a chief at Kumawu constituted an obvious contempt of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs before which an application for injunction had earlier been filed against the respondents.

But the court, presided over by His Lordship Justice Charles Adjei Wilson dismissed the application on the grounds that the respondents were not in violation of an injunction order at the time the contempt application was filed and that no one may be punished under a system of justice for failing to conform to his conduct for rules and orders that he could not ascertain.

The court said the applicants failed to prove that the respondents had a notice of court order. Justice Wilson explained that an imprisonment for contempt is properly ordered where the contemnor has refused to do or comply with an affirmative act required by the provisions of an order.

Citing case 1002 of the Ghana Law Report, the court said notice of a judicial order upon a violation of which contempt finding may properly be based is such notice as would clearly tell a reasonable person what he is required to do or abstain from doing saying an anticipatory contempt is an improper use of the court’s contempt power.

The Court held that the applicants were unable to meet the high burden set out in the authorities to find contempt against the respondents and accordingly dismissed the motion for contempt.

The judgment which upheld an earlier decision by Her Lordship Justice Angelina Homiah-Mensah comes after the respondents per their solicitors, had advanced a host of reasons that the citation of contempt cannot stand.

The respondents argued that at the time of hearing the petition no order had come from the House of Chiefs to comply and therefore cannot be said to have disobeyed any order for consideration for committal for contempt.

Meanwhile, the court in dismissing the case also commended the parties (applicants and respondents) for show of civility and comportment during proceedings at the court.

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