GOV’T HAS NO POWER TO SETTLE CHIEFTAINCY DISPUTES
Story: SEVERIOUS KALE DERY
A justice of the Supreme Court, Justice S.A Brobbey, has stated that under the 1992 constitution, the government has no authority whatsoever to settle chieftaincy disputes.
In addition, he said with the exception of the Supreme Court, which had jurisdiction over chieftaincy disputes on appeal only, all other court set up specifically to settle disputes had no jurisdiction to determine any chieftaincy disputes.
“The 1992 Constitution and the law have proceeded on the assumption that chiefs can best settle disputes involving chiefs. Therefore, only judicial committees of traditional councils, regional and national houses of chiefs are authorized to settle chieftaincy disputes,” Justice Brobbey made the declaration in his first lecture to mark the 11th biennial Marshall- Moreau -Morat Memorial lectures at the Christ the King Parish Hall in Accra.
The Marshall -Moreau -Morat lectures were instituted in 1989 by the Noble Order of the Knights of Marshall in memory of the late Sir James Marshall, a Scotsman who serve as Chief Justice in the then Gold Coast after whom the Noble Order was named.
Speaking on the topic: “Christian religion, chieftaincy and national orientation,” Justice Brobbey stressed that the only time the government had to get involved in chieftaincy dispute was when it bordered on national security.
“That involvement does not authorize the government to settle chieftaincy disputes. Any attempt to set the chieftaincy dispute will result in an application to High or Supreme Court to quash it as ultra vires,” he explained.
He observed that many of the problems giving rise to social upheavals in the society were rooted in chieftaincy conflicts.
Justice Brobbey was optimistic that if such conflicts be curtailed or reduce to the barest minimum, there was no doubt that most of the social upheavals would be eliminated or reduced.
He wondered how long society would have to endure chieftaincy disputes, which continued to be the source of social disorder or upheavals.
The supreme court judge blamed successive governments since independence for their inability to pre-empt chieftaincy conflicts “and wait till trouble erupts before rushing the police, soldiers and sometimes fire service personnel to the trouble spot when we all know that the root cause is chieftaincy conflict which can be resolved by tackling the dispute in the courts set up for that purpose.”
Welcoming the participants, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Marshall, Sir Knight Brother Anthony C. Kemavor, commended the initiators of the memorial lecture.
He said the lecture was timely, as it had come at a time when chieftaincy in the country was becoming an issue, and urged participants to actively participate during discussion.
The Catholic Bishop of Koforidua Diocese, Most Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Aguekum, who chaired the function, said chieftaincy had an effect whether positive or negative on national development.
Daily Graphic page: 14 Wednesday, May 5, 2010.