MINISTER CLASHES WITH NORTHERN CHIEFS
Scolds them for being litigation happy, but chiefs blame lawyers
|Mr. Stephen S. Nayina –Northern Regional Minister (left), Prof. Naa Nabilla, President of National House of Chiefs (right)|
“It is on record that your Judicial Committee has over the past five months sat on cases without any proper resolution. This, to say the least, is outrageous and smacks of injustice. Because it is said that justice delayed is justice denied”.
Mr. Nayina, who believes that the unsettled disputes were contributing to the frequent outbreak of violence in the region, therefore requested the Regional House of Chiefs to resolve to dispose of all outstanding chieftaincy disputes before them “within two months” and to restore dignity, respect and above all peace in the region.
The Minister was speaking at a workshop organized by the National House of Chiefs for members of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs to sensitise them on the New Chieftaincy Act 2008 and act 759 here in Tamale. The Workshop, which was under the theme: “Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759 and the Ethics of a Chief,” was sponsored by Kondrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).
It was meant to equip chieftaincy practitioners with the requisite skills, knowledge, laws and information among others to keep abreast with the judicial functions of Houses of Chiefs, traditional councils and the processes involved.
However, Mr. Nayina observed that Chieftaincy was an important social institution that has survived the ravages of powerful western forces such as Christianity, education, industrialization and urbanization among others, and still remained the custodian of Ghana’s cultural values, traditions and norms.
He regretted that the Chieftaincy Institution which was meant to unify the people in some cases in the Northern Region had rather turned to divide them and given rise to violent clashes resulting in loss of lives and property.
The enormous disputes that exist in the region with its concomitant state of insecurity, the Minister noted, had stifled the accelerated socio-economic development and driven away prospective investors from the region, thereby perpetuating the poverty situation in the area. Mr. Stephen Nayina, a former Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, therefore, appealed to the Chiefs to use the appropriate customary procedures to resolve all disputes amicably for the sake of development in the region, since government and the traditional authorities had a shared responsibility to ensure the security of the citizenry. He also entreated the Chiefs to partner with his administration to erase the bad impression created about the Northern Region as a volatile and conflict ridden area in Ghana.
In what can be termed as a sharp rebuttal to the Minister’s claim that the House of Chiefs was unable to resolve cases brought to it in the last five years, the Chairman of the opening session of the Workshop, Kpembe-wura Haruna Kibasigi I, said the House was rather working tirelessly to resolving the cases before it.
According to him, what was making their work so difficult was the blatant refusal of Counsels/Lawyers of the contesting parties to appear before the Judicial Committee of the House during hearings. The Kpembe-wura, therefore, entreated the Northern Regional Minister, Stephen Sumani Nayina to rather redirect his criticisms on the lawyers who regularly appear before the House for smooth and fast track resolution of the cases.
However, the President of the National House of Chiefs, Wulugu Naba, Pugansoa Naa Professor John S. Nabila, spoke extensively about the 1992 Constitution, especially Chapter 22, which is devoted to the chieftaincy institution.
He said the new Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759 was an improvement and a repeal of the Chieftaincy Act 370. One major amendment in the Act is the tenure of office of President and Members of the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs from three to four years to be in conformity with the tenure of the Presidency, Parliament and the Council of State.
The Institution, Naa Nabila said, was protected such that Parliament shall have no power to enact any law which firstly - confers on any person or authority the right to accord or withdraw recognition to or from a chief for any purpose whatsoever; or secondly in any way detract or derogate from the honour and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy. He therefore described as incumbent on all chiefs in the country to be very knowledgeable about the various tenets of the Chieftaincy Act and above all the 1992 Constitution.
The Representative of the Kondrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Mr. Isaac Owusu Mensah appealed to the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs to prevail on their members to completely stay away from politics. According to him, mounting of political platforms and meddling in politics immensely take away the dignity and respect people had for certain traditional leaders.
Mr. Owusu Mensah, however, promised that Kondrad Adenauer Stiftung which has worked for over 42 years in Ghana and promoting democracy, the rule of law, human rights and development, would continue to sensitize the chiefs in the ten regions of Ghana to contribute to the nation’s advancement.