Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
THE Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs (NHC) has declared the Odefey (Paramount Chief) of the Senya Beraku Traditional Area in the Central Region, Nenyi Kweku Issiw VI, a fugitive and consequently withdrawn his recognition.
The committee held that the paramount chief jumped bail in a case in which he was being held by the police in 1992 for defrauding a number of people with the pretext of securing visas for them to travel to Europe, and as such could not hold himself as chief as he had not been seen over the 15-year period.
Giving judgement in an appeal filed by a faction in the Senya Beraku Chieftaincy dispute in Kumasi last Friday, the committee, chaired by the Kukuomhene, Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, upheld a decision by the Judicial Committee of the Central Regional House of Chiefs that the leaving of the palace unceremoniously by the Omanhene without any signs that he would return amounted to abandonment of his stool, which constituted abdication or renunciation of a stool.
“In view of the above, it is rather superfluous for us to restate the obvious that circumstances surrounding the unannounced departure of the chief to an undisclosed destination satisfies the conditions laid down by customary law that he renounced the Senya Beraku stool,” Mr John Domalae, counsel for the committee who read the 11-page judgement, said.
Five persons — made up of Nenyi Kobina Andakwei IV, Joshua Kweku Bentum, Naase Nkwanta Otuba II, Opanin Kow Agyare and Supi Kobina Esuon — filed the appeal at the NHC against the ruling of the Central Regional House of Chiefs, that Nenyi Issiw could not hold himself out as Omanhene because after escaping from justice 15 years ago, no one could tell where he was.
The appellants further prayed the committee to declare null and void the installation of one Albert Aboagye as paramount chief of Senya Beraku.
In arriving at its ruling, the judicial committee upheld the submission by the respondents, namely Kow Larbi aka Kobina Abakah II, Kobina Affir, Kow Asafua and Albert Aboagye that Nenyi Issiw appeared to have fallen foul of the law, following a complaint made to the police at Osu in 1991, that he defrauded many people of large sums of money with the promise to secure visas for them to travel to Europe.
The police officer in the case testified that Nenyi Issiw was arrested and arraigned in Accra on December 24, 1991 and granted bail but absconded and his whereabouts remained unknown.
The respondents went ahead to instal the said Aboagye as Omanhene, since they realised that Nenyi Issiw had abandoned his stool, a situation which was challenged by the petitioners at the sitting of the Judicial Committee of the Central Regional House of Chiefs, which dismissed it by a majority decision.
Not satisfied with the ruling of the Central Regional House of Chiefs, the petitioners filed an appeal at the NHC.
In its ruling the Judicial Committee of the NHC rejected the claim by the appellants that Nenyi Issiw travelled abroad for medical examination, saying there was neither any evidence indicating where the Nenyi was receiving the said medical treatment nor did the appellants provide any evidence that they had been communicating with him.
The committee observed that in this era it was common for a chief to reside outside his traditional area, but in doing so it should be with the consent of his elders.
“We have no difficulty in upholding the irresistible conclusion arrived at by the trial judicial committee that the chief in question had indeed abandoned his stool, as well as his subjects, for good,” Mr Domalae quoted from the judgement.
On whether Aboagye was properly nominated, elected and enstooled as Odefey, the judicial committee also upheld the judicial committee’s decision in declaring that the enstoolment was valid.
Costs of ¢20 million was awarded against the appellants, who later declared their intention to move o the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Judicial Committee of the NHC.