General News of Thursday, 11 May 2017
All eyes are focused on the Chief of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, to fairly and amicably end the 30-year litigation over the Akwamu Omanhene case today.
Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, who is the president of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs at the capital Koforidua, later today, is expected to end the long drawn dispute without controversy.
Other members of the panel are Nene Sackitey and Akyem Swedro Chief.
Ahead of the judgment, The Herald has been told that, expectations are rather high with the people hoping that the Okyehene and his two colleagues, will at long last put an amicable settlement to battle between the Yaa Ansaa gate and Yaa Botwe gate to give Akwamuman the peace and development that they yearn for.
Akwamu, is said to be awaiting the verdict, from the Okyehene Amoatia’s Court to celebrate its Odwira and Apafram festivals.
They are expectation that, the decision shall be fair and just with the lineage of Ansa Sasraku, emerging victorious.
Indeed, claims are that, it is the turn of ex-United Nations Secretary (UN) General Kofi Annan’s family from Cape Coast in the Central Region, who are part of the Yaa Ansaa Royal family, who are to rule.
But it is said, Mr. Kofi Annan is not in the race, and kingmakers are waiting with bated breath on the Okyehene and his colleagues to decide who they offer alongside other suitable candidates presented for selection by the Aduana Abrade Royal family.
Last year, Amoatia Ofori Panyin II, invited Kofi Annan, to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs to help resolve a long-drawn-out chieftaincy dispute.
Kofi Annan, is said to be leading one of two royal families involved in the six-year-old wrestle for a chieftaincy title in the Akwamu Traditional Area.
Joy FM reported that, its sources say the adjudicators at the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, where the matter is being heard, believe the presence of the respected Diplomat, would fast-track the resolution of the dispute.
The dispute broke in 2011, when the Queen Mother of the Botwe royal family, Akwamu Nana Afrakoma, took steps to enstool Nana Kwabena Owiredu (aka Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III) as Omanhene of Akwamu Traditional Area.
In a bid to stop the process, the rival Ansaa royal family, referred the matter to a High Court in Koforidua, but that did not stop the Botwe family from installing Nana Owiredu as chief of the Akwamu Traditional Area.
An arrest warrant was subsequently issued in 2012 for Nana Afrakoma and Nana Owiredu for contempt.
The matter was eventually referred to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs for resolution, but the defendants, the Botwe royal family, accused the Ansaa family and the former UN Secretary General – who is head of the Ansaa family – of unduly dragging the matter.
Although, Mr. Annan and the Ansaa family, have purportedly given the Power of Attorney to one Owusu Bruku, the lawyer for the Defendants Kweku Painstil, argues the absence of a substantive member of the Ansaa family at hearings was working against efforts to end the dispute.
Mr. Paintsil, also faulted the Power of Attorney document presented, suggesting that, because Mr. Owusu Bruku was not a member of any of the two royal families, he lacks the ability to provide credible evidence.
During sitting, the Okyenhene, also wondered why the Power of Attorney document was not signed by Mr. Kofi Annan, raising doubts about the authenticity of the document.
The panel of chiefs hearing the matter, therefore, asked the lawyer for the Plaintiff, Stephen Asante Bekoe, to produce Mr. Annan at the next sitting, scheduled for November 9, 2016, to bring clarity to the matter.
The Yaa Ansaa family in 2013, felt slighted by what it described as ‘offensive statement from Daasebre Oti-Boateng, the immediate past president of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs’, that the dispute between the Yaa Ansah family and its opposing gate,Yaa Botwe, had been solved through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Mr Albert Oppong Akoto, a spokesman for the family, said ‘the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family rejected the report from the panel of eminent chiefs of the Alternative Disputes Resolution because it was full of misrepresentations, lies and dishonesty’.
He said for over a period of 77 years, the Yaa Ansaa family had been denied the right to inheritance even though the Ansaa Royal family were the true custodians and overlords of the Akwamu Black Stool, and are the indigenous Akwamus.
The two parties have been battling each other in the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs and the law courts ever since the demise of Nana Kwafo Akoto II, the Akwamu Omanhene in 1992.The chief had ruled for 56 years from his installation in 1936, and served as the chairman of the Presidential Commission of Ghana in 1955. The chief had occupied the stool on the ticket of the Botwe family.
But 21 years after his death, the two families are yet to settle on who is best qualified to occupy the vacant stool.
After the death of Nana Akoto, the Yaa Ansaas attempted to enstool an Omanhene in the person of Kyeremateng Afranie.
He was restrained by the queenmother, Nana Afrakoma, through a court injunction not to perform as a chief.
Later, another person, Kwabena Owiredu, also known as Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, was installed by the Yaa Botwe family -an action Mr Oppong described as illegal as it did not involve the kingmakers of Akwamu.
These two installations, deepened the protracted Akwamu chieftaincy dispute.
The matter was referred to the National House of Chiefs, which referred it back to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, when it was first ruled in favour of the Royal Yaa Ansaa family.
To find a lasting solution, Kuokoumu Omanhene, Nana Amoako Ababio Takyi, and Agona-Ashanti Omanhene,Nana Frimpong Anokye, urged the the parties to resolve the issue out of court and the ADR was agreed upon.
Reading from the report of the ADR process, he said Nana Afrokoma, apologised for illegally attempting to impose her nephew, Kwabena Wiredu, as the Omanhene of Akwamu Traditional Area, without consulting the overlords of the blackstool, the Royal Yaa Ansaa Family.
He said, in spite of this, the facilitators of the process led by Daasebre Oti Boateng, Nana Takyi and Nana Anokye, went ahead to declare the Yaa Botwe family custodians of the Akwamu stool.
“It is only in this case that a respondent apologises to petitioners for taking the wrong action and yet the respondents are declared winners of the case,” he said.
“As petitioners, we cannot understand why we should suffer after the accused person has openly accepted her wrong doing yet the panel members insisted Kwabena Owiredu is the Omanhene of Akwamu,” he lamented.
Delve into the report; he said it was fraught with several inaccuracies, including the fact that the Yaa Ansaa family was not represented by two signatories.
“Our Abuasuapanyin was not chosen to represent the family. It was the ADR that called for his inclusion. The family is aware he had hearing problem. Secondly, he is from a patrilineal lineage”.
That is not all. He said the report failed to capture the fact that the Abusuapanyin was destooled midway and the ADR panel informed accordingly but interestingly, the final report bore his signature.
He said those who signed the report did not have locus as kingmakers and wondered why the ADR panel could choose to elevate people to ranks they did not deserve.
Mr. Oppong, said even though Daasebre Oti Boateng, was asked to step down from the process because of allegations of corruption, he refused to do so.
“We want to remind all those who signed the report produced by the ADR panel that they have committed a criminal offence and would have to face the full rigours of the law.”
Adding his voice to the press conference, Nana Ansah Okomahene III, the acting Akyeamehene for the Akwamu Traditional Area, said it was difficult to reconcile the report of the ADR process with the reality on the ground since checks from the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, and confirmed by its Registrar, showed that Akwamu had no paramount chief.
He said, Daasebre Oti-Boateng, had failed to handle the case as expected because at the end, if justice had been done, the two parties would have met at a reconciliatory meeting with rituals, including the slaughtering of sheep to signify the end to the conflict but that never happened.
“As we speak, we are still in court, so how can one person be declared winner to a case which is still in court,” he asked.