The Court of Appeal has quashed a decision by an Accra high court to jail Nii Ansah Sasaraku III, Dzasetse of Nii Arde Nkpa family of Kokrobite, Langma and Tuba in the Greater Accra Region, for contempt of court.
The high court, presided over by Justice Elizabeth Ankamah, on June 14, 2013 slapped a 30-day jail sentence on the chief because he was said to have defied a court order.
In the same ruling, the court had warned the James Town Mantse, Nii Kojo Ababio IV, for his alleged involvement in the case.
A three-member panel of justices, comprising Mariama Owusu, K.N. Aduama Osei and Saeed Kwaku Gyan, unanimously set aside the high court ruling after an appeal by Nii Sasaraku III.
What landed the chief in the said contempt was that a court is reported to have ruled that Nii Ansah Sasaraku III was not the legally recognized head of the Nii Arde Nkpa family.
The court held that after the installation of Nii Ansah Sasaraku III as the Dzasetse of the Nii Arde Nkpa family, he allegedly imposed himself as the head of the family against a legally appointed head, in the person of Rev. Nii Tackie Tagoe.
Nii Sasaraku III then took the family to court seeking an injunction on the head of the family together with Daniel Nii Arde Tagoe, the administrator of Kokrobite, Plerno, Langma and Tuba lands.
A Fast Track High Court, presided over by Justice Offei, dismissed the application, describing it as frivolous and vexatious but Nii Sasaruku III allegedly failed to abide by the court ruling and continued to operate as the Dzasetse and also head of family.
The Dzasetse purportedly went to the extent of appointing headmen in the villages and further wrote a letter to the Municipal Chief Executive of Ga South that he had destooled Nii Arde Nkpa.
Not able to take it anymore, the family initiated contempt proceedings at the high court, Cocoa Affairs Division, against the two respondents and the court convicted Nii Sasaruku III for 30 days.
However, not satisfied with the decision, Nii Sasaraku III appealed against his conviction and the second highest court of the land said ‘There is no evidence surrounding the purported dismissal of the Mantse of Plerno by the appellant into which an interference in the administration of justice or lowering of the image of the court may be read.’
The court held that having gone through the records and bearing in mind that contempt ought to be established beyond reasonable doubt, it found no justification for the conviction of Nii Sasraku III.
‘There is no evidence that the acts complained about, or either by them, denigrated or were intended to denigrate the trial court,’ the Court of Appeal held.
By William Yaw Owusu
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