Sekondi — The number of chieftaincy cases pending at the Western Region House of Chiefs stand at 61, the Acting President of the House, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, has revealed, stressing that the rising trend is regrettable and the 'biggest challenge.'
Out of the number, 42 cases are petitions with 19 standing as appeal cases. However, with the new administrative set up in Ghana, the National House of Chiefs at an emergency meeting on April 1, has directed that 22 of cases should been transferred to the Western North Region.
Awulae Annor Adjaye III, disclosed these at a stakeholders' consultative meeting with the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh and the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister, Ebenezer Kojo Kum, at Sekondi, on Monday.
He explained that, with the new directive, the Western Regional House of Chiefs would be left with 39 cases comprising 21 petitions and 18 appeals.
Awulae Adjaye again reported to the Chieftaincy Minister that records available in the House indicated that the present Counsel had attained the compulsory retirement age of 60 years as atDecember, 2020, which meant that the House had no Counsel, adding that"This is a major impediment to adjudication of cases."
He, therefore, appealed to the minister to help the House get a Counsel to enable it expedite action on the pending cases.
"The role of a lawyer in the adjudication function of the House of Chiefs cannot be underestimated and it is for this reason that the framers of the Chieftaincy Act 2008(Act 759 section 28 (4) states that "A Judicial Committee is appointed under this section shall be assisted by a lawyer of not less than five years standing appointed by the Regional House of Chiefs on the recommendation of the Attorney General." the Acting President contended.
Awulae Adjaye believed that the House would through the various meetings discuss matters that would promote the interests of the Western Region and the welfare of the people.
Commenting on the matter, the Omanhen of Nsein, Awulae Agyefi Kwame II, complained about the protracted chieftaincy dispute at Wassa Fiase and believed that the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, should havetaken measures to resolve the crisis including thosein other jurisdictions.
He noted that with the cancellation of the Western Region 2020 elections, the House could not function effectively, adding that a similar incident occurred in 2012, and, was later, withdrawn from the Appeal Court in Cape Coast.
"From December, we are now in May, and we're not having a full functioned House which is enshrined in the constitution," Awulae Kwame lamented.
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kojo Kumcommented that "Nobody benefitted from disputes apart from lawyers. I am committed to do whatever it takes to resolve the 42 disputes in the region during my time."
He indicated that apart from the Western Region, the Volta and Upper West Regions also had no Counsels, and assured that he was working with the Attorney General so that " we fill these vacancies so that the judicial committees can work."
Reacting to the Dixcove crisis, the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, said that the Regional Coordinating Council tried getting some eminent persons in the region, including the member of Council of State, Mrs Alberta Cudjoe and the Omanhene of Lower Axim Awulae Attibrukusu, to resolve the matter, but, along the line, one party walked out.
Recognising the role of chiefs in national development, he however, argued that, the House could not function effectively with a divided front, and, suggested that "no matter what, we must use traditional knowledge to solve our problems and not the courts."
Energy Minister, Mr Prempeh spelt out that the Western Region needed to use unity as a major plank to harness her God-given resources including the oil and gas potentials.
"The past is gone; we need to remain united and not divided." he added.