These words were penned by Montesquieu, the enlightenment political philosopher who conceived the three branches of government along with the concept of separation of powers, which we can agree are some of the most valuable political traditions preserved from the colonial epoch.
The modern Justice System was designed to be more efficient and robust than the traditional arcane setup where an inebriated elder could have you banished from the community because you looked at him the wrong way.
Now, however, we bear witness to its limitations and imperfections, while we watch haplessly as the unstoppable force of the Judiciary meets the immovable object of entrenched cultural norms.
A case pitting a power-hungry outsider against the historic Yaa Ansaa Royal Family was brought before the Courts. A case that contrasted the romanticism and nobility of custom and history against the intransigence and austerity of modern law.
Needless to say, we would be remiss not to be grateful to the Justices for having the courage to confirm and articulate the truth about the ownership of the Akwamu Amanpong Kofi Gua along with its exclusivity and non-rotational status. Ownership of the Stool is well known as belonging to the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family.
What is painfully disingenuous on the part of the Justices, however, was their lack of rigourrigouror and clarity regarding the full ledger of questions raised in this trial. The Justices could not explain how they determined Owiredu to be ‘properly nominated and installed.’.
The facts of the case resolve that Owiredu was neither nominated, nor selected by an Abrewatia from the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family, and neither was he allowed to sit on our sacred Stone at the Asemini Family House.
It is bewildering, then, that the Highest Court of the land, in full possession and recognition of these circumstances, choose to neglect such a loose end during their initial rulings.
The choice, selection and installation of an Akwamu Paramount Chief is the sole prerogative of the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family. Not the Supreme Court of Ghana. Not the International Criminal Court. Not the Court of Public Opinion.
Not any court. In short, our customs incontrovertibly place this, and all other adjacent ancillary matters, in the hands of the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family. In the same way that a man is, well within his rights, may to decide what to do with his property, or how to pass on inheritance to his offspring, so too does the business of the Akwamu Amanpong Kofi Gua rest in the hands of the Yaa Ansaa Family.
Should the Courts nevertheless, decide to meddle in our private family affairs, then they ought to explain it and it is incumbent upon them to satisfactorily and in-depth intelligibly explain how they arrived at such conclusions. It is only fair.
The Courts do not have the mandate, capacity, or venue to make such pronouncements and determinations unless otherwise stated. That which was otherwise allegedly stated in chambers, wcould be the only explanation for the incongruent decisions that have emanated from that institution.
Take, for instance, that the Court affirmed that an Akwamu Chief could only be selected if they commandeered the confidence of an Abrewatia from the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family stock. Agreed, right?
Well, how do they reversely justify that Owiredu was ‘properly nominated and installed’ when he was selected and installed by his aunt, another Regent and acting Queen Mother, who is from an opposing family; the Botwe Family?
The stars have aligned to cast a spotlight on the shamfarce that was Owiredu’s ‘proper installment.’. Love Som, a supposedly Yaa Ansaa Abrewatia of old, collected bribes from the Botwe Family after she initially protested Owiredu’s installation without her involvement, admitted to this, signed an affidavit to that effect, and admitted to her grandson Kofi Asamoah—, who is ready to testify against her own grandmother—, to that effect. Any court worthy of its position would collapse under the crushing weight of such overwhelming evidence.
As if that was not enough, the Supreme Court’s justification of Owiredu’s installment as a placeholder or Regent due to a lack of eligible men falls flat on its head, because we have protested against his Regency till our voices have almost given out. We protested before, during, and after his installation, which is the very reason this case has ended up before the Ccourt.
Tragically, the State lost a police officer—, dutiful Constable Prince Appiah—, during Regent Owiredu’s forced installation. Constable Appiah died during the protesting of the Regent’s installation, thereby ensuringin an attempt to ensure that Owiredu never sat on the sacred stone at the Asemni family house.
His blood is on the hands of the would-be usurper, and the Court owes it to his family, his legacy and the nation to serve Justice. Now, the Court may be all too eager to set aside our revered customs and traditions, but this is too heavy a boulder to roll away.
A civil servant died in the line of duty; – a marker of the severity of the infractions committed by the Botwe usurpers, and a clear sign (as if any other was needed) that the process was tainted with irregularity and cannot possibly be upheld with any semblance of validity.
Sebi, (Akan word for ‘with all due respect’) Justice Baffoe-Bonnie as an example, is no wiser than our own Obaapayin Yaa Ansaa. These are time honoured values and traditional systems that predate the Court by about half a Millenium. They should not be treated as lightly as a set of school rules, nor taken casually without their proper context and connotations.
It is our considered position that the Court is doing irreparable damage to itself, depriving itself of the intellectual rigourrigourr, and curiosity that come naturally to the discipline of law and the practice of justice. A more open and deliberate inquest would serve to stimulate healthy and intelligent discussions.
Such exchanges would produce new concepts to set forth the foundation for case law that will be studied by students and applied by practitioners for generations to come. The intersection of customary and state law is a virgin field ripe for gains. Isn’t this the ambition of the enthusiastic legal minds that walk the Halls of Justice?
To contribute to the legal fabric of this nation and add a notch to the seams that screams to future generations ‘I was here!’? Or would our learned friends be content to warm the benches, simply churn out thousands of words in effortless, bland verdicts, and serve out their time as unremarkable cogs in the machine of law and history?
The Court reminds me of a student who does their assignment shoddily just to be done with it and move on. This is evident by the fact that the Justices simply copied and pastedtranscribed arbitration notes prepared at the National House of Chiefs duringfor their second submission!
Arbitration notes that support a scheme orchestrated by Afrakoma II, who in hallowed words over a decade ago, echoed “I will keep both Stools and tie them,” in response to a dying Kwafo Akoto II, instructing the Botwe Family to return the Stool to the Fantis, “for it belongs to them” Kwafo will murmur, before his final breath!
Where have we gone wrong as a nation to the extent that facts and truth no longer matter? Affirming ownership of The Black Stool in favour of The Yaa Ansaa Royal Family remains woefully inadequate as we remain locked in a perpetual cycle of Regents selecting and installing fellow Regents from an opposing family. Owiredu’s camp remains resolute in theirits ability to skew the truth;, they even promised their pathetic sympathizers the Botwe Family intends to fight us over our ownership rights, once he is gazetted.
Well, the toothpaste is out of the tube and we cannot squeeze dirty toothpaste back into the tube. The Court has draped a wet blanket over our 12-year quest for justice. How ironic. The Yaa Ansaa Royal Family remains the sole surviving family that can effortlessly trace its ancestry and genealogy to their progenitor, Obaapayin Yaa Ansaa, further tracing their origins to the Twifo Hemang region, the birthplace of our Black Stool.
That, we can do so in a clear and unambiguous manner should be further cause aproof that there is no current lack of eligible men from our stock be discounted. Hence the Justices are not only tasked with uncovering the truth during this trial, but are also tasked with preserving the sole surviving family of a rich Akan nation.
Allowing Owiredu to occupy our Paramountcy will be dispensing with our history, extending the Botwe Family encroachment on our private family legacy in excess of 150 years; to which we ask the Justices, Enkosi Daben??? (Until when in Akan language)
There is an alternative, in the event the courts are ill-equipped to conduct an independent investigation into the forced installation of Owiredu.
That alternative comes by way of the Akwamu Traditional Council and its acting president. They could plausibly act as liaisons between Tradition, the Law, and Government.
The following are some of the unresolved issues and unanswered questions lingering before the Supreme Court:
a) Proper traditional context that denied Owiredu’s rights to sit on the sacred stone at the Asemini Family House and its implication on the validity of his alleged installment.
b) The circumstances surrounding the death of Constable Prince Appiah and associated evidence proving that the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family never abandoned the Stool before, during, or after Owiredu’s installation.
c) Allegations of bribery and corruption by the former Abrewatia, after she protested about Owiredu’s installation without her involvement and a confession of her bribery by the Botwe Family, offered by her own grandson Kofi Asamoah.
d) Evidence proving that a Chief who swore allegiance to The Yaa Ansaa Family occupied the Stool after the demise of the last legitimate Regent, Kwafo Akoto II. Assuming the Stool name Ansaa Sesraku, he died mysteriously, while Regent Afrakoma II hurriedly and forcibly installed her nephew as Regent without a Yaa Ansaa Abrewatia.
e) All the above evidence, pointing to the availability of eligible men from the Yaa Ansaa Family Stock who were ready and willing to assume the reins of power, if not for the interference of Afrakoma. This nullifies any perceived or so-called arrangement to allow other family members from outside the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family to ascend the Stool in this particular instance.
f) Nullifying any arrangements Kwafo Akoto II, a Botwe family member on “loan” making ascension rules of Stool rites that is the sole preserve of the Yaa Ansaa Royal Family.
g) Clarification on the court’s stance attributing the blame for this controversy on The Yaa Ansaa Family for “having a system that allows other families to ascend the Stool, in the absence of eligible men from the Yaa Ansaa Family.”
This last statement lacks sufficiency as Royal Families in Ghana and the world over have arrangements in place for “Loaners”, “Caretakers”, and “Regents” to temporarily hold Stools in trust, as long as the rites to ascension are performed according to the Demands of Customs, legally and legitimately.
h) Major contradiction with the Court’s assertion of the legitimacy of a Regent Queen Mother nominating and installing her nephew as yet another Regent to extend their combined rule over Akwamu to over 150 years (when Afrakoma II’s rule is factored in with Kwafo Akoto II’s and Owiredus).
i) The Court’s confirmation that the selection of an Akwamu Chief is the sole preserve of an Abrewatia of Yaa Ansaa Family stock, which renders its absence, in this case, as an automatic breach.
j) A dangerous precedent set in the annals of Ghana’s Traditional System if Regents are allowed to install other Regents, without the express permission of the exclusive and non-rotational owners of the Stool.
Our mission has just begun. We shall still engage the Court with reverence and respect through our lawyers and pretend none of what we know or have heard about perceived interference is true. We know otherwise, but in the interest of forging a new beginning, we shall table such concerns.
To be continued…
The Yaa Ansaa Royal Family