Okyenhene Asagyeguo Amoatia Ofori Panin II has responded to a letter written to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs by the Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Prof Emeritus Oti Boateng, in which the latter accused the former of playing a “highly risky” and “needless game” in restructuring Eastern Regional House of Chiefs.
The letter copied the Speaker of Parliament, Parliament House; Chairman, Council of State; Chairman, Subsidiary Legislation Committee; Majority Leader of Parliament, Minority Leader of Parliament, all Paramount Chiefs of the Eastern Region, Acting President of the New Juaben Traditional Council, Koforidua MP, New Juaben North MP and New Juaben South.
Daasebre Prof Oti Boateng said Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin II “has a duty to explain to Ghanaians why, at the tail end of his eight-year Presidency of the ERHC and in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic afflicting the world and the nation, he should find it necessary to saturate the membership with Divisional chiefs, which heavily tilts in his favour under the pretext of a restructuring. This is an unnecessary reconstitution since no triggers have emerged within the ERHC to merit this step”.
Read Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng’s full statement:
The President National House of Chiefs
OKYENHENE’S DANGEROUS BRINKMANSHIP TO RECONSTITUTE EASTERN REGIONAL HOUSE OF CHIEFS (ERHC).
The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, is playing a highly risky game in a unilateral and needless restructuring of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs (ERHC).
So far, he has failed to present any tangible reason why the ERHC must be restructured.
The ERHC has maintained the same membership of eleven (11) Paramount Chiefs for over half-a-century and has worked well under various Presidents of the House including his predecessor, Osagyefuo Kuntunkununku II.
The Okyenhene, as President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, is a public officer subject to public scrutiny and is expected to operate within the provisions of the Chieftaincy Act.
He has a duty to explain to Ghanaians why at the tail end of his eight-year Presidency of the ERHC and in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic afflicting the world and the nation, he should find it necessary to saturate the membership with Divisional Chiefs which heavily tilts in his favour under the pretext of a restructuring. This is an unnecessary reconstitution since no triggers have emerged within the ERHC to merit this step.
Moreover, the steps taken by Okyenhene offends against the salient provisions of the Chieftaincy Act which does not discriminate among Paramount Chiefs but rather accords them the same privileges.
Yet the Okyenhene has side-stepped the Chieftaincy Act by allocating sixteen (16) Divisional Chiefs from his Paramountcy as new members in the proposed restructured House while allocating only between three (3) and seven (7) members to other paramountcies. This is a complete nonstarter; nothing calls for it. Curiously, the New Juaben Traditional Area, which includes the capital of the Eastern Region, Koforidua, was completely ignored with no allocation at all to the Paramountcy.
Here again, we expect Okyenhene to provide the rationale for this unpardonable omission.
The main contentions of the Omanhene of New Juaben, Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng, which are solidly supported by the Chiefs and people of the Traditional Area are as follows:
1. That the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, completely excluded New Juaben from the list of Divisional Chiefs he submitted to the National House of Chiefs for inclusion as new members of the House without any justification whatsoever.
2. That the Okyenhene has to date failed to provide a full justification on the need to restructure the House at the tail end of his Presidency and in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic afflicting the world and the nation.
3. That the Okyenhene broke protocol by failing to bring this crucial matter for discussion by the whole House but rather bypassed the full House in sending the memorandum to the National House of Chiefs. The said memorandum, therefore, does not reflect the view of the whole House.
4. That the Okyenhene does not have any mandate under the Chieftaincy Act to allocate sixteen Divisional Chiefs to himself whilst giving other Paramountcies a paltry three to seven slots in a deliberate attempt to tilt the balance of power in his favour with such skewed and asymmetrical allocation. This would seriously restrict and cripple the incoming President.
This new unilateral allocation of disproportional number of Divisional Chiefs from the Okyenhene’s Paramountcy to the ERHC is a mere subterfuge to consolidate his position and power-base within the House and elevate himself above his contemporaries.
It is extremely important to refute the wrong notion being bandied around that increasing the membership of the House will improve the quorum and the working of the House. The quorum is fixed by law and does not change under the invariance principle. For example, with a 50 per cent quorum, a House with 10 members will require only 5 members to form a quorum whereas doubling the membership to 20 will automatically double the required quorum to 10 members.
Thus, the burden of a quorum increases proportionately with increasing membership due to the ratio of proportionality. It is therefore completely fallacious to assume that increasing the membership of ERHC will improve the quorum and the working of the House. There are many innovative techniques which could be used to improve the working of the ERHC without necessarily tampering with the membership. The hint of an alleged desperate last-minute attempt to include New Juaben in the restructured House is inconsequential. The whole restructuring exercise is, prima facie, uncalled for, unjustified and unnecessary. The entire action of the OKYENHENE is bad and incurably bad for all times and VOID ab initio. It will set a dangerous precedent for other chiefs with inordinate ambition to follow. We have written to the Speaker of Parliament with copies to the Council of State, National House of Chiefs and ERHC to register our objection to the Legislative Instrument emanating thereof and urge Parliament to refer the matter back to the ERHC for in-depth discussion and an amicable resolution.
Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng
Omanhene of New Juaben Traditional Area
Cc: Speaker of Parliament, Parliament House, Accra
Chairman, Council of State, Accra
Chairman, Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Parliament House, Accra
Majority Leader of Parliament, Parliament House, Accra
Minority Leader of Parliament, Parliament House, Accra
All Paramount Chiefs, Eastern Region Acting President, New Juaben Traditional Council,
New Juaben North MP,
New Juaben South
In a reply, however, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin II said: “Firstly, our client take note of the generally acerbic and vitriolic tone of language as well as the contemptuous imputations contained in your letters which are directed at him although addressed to the President of National House of Chief (NHC). Whilst observing that such language is inappropriate and unbefitting of communication between esteemed members of the august House of Chiefs, in the spirit of fostering harmony, accord and unity among noble brothers, we have been instructed to refrain from replying in similar tone”.
Read the Okyenhene’s full statement below:
RE: PROTESTATION AGAINST THE COMPOSITION OF THE RE-STRUCTURED EASTERN REGIONAL HOUSE OF CHIEFS
We communicate as the Solicitors for HM Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin with instructions to respond to your letters dated 25th June 2020 and 14th July 2020 on the above subject, addressed to the President of the National House of Chiefs and copied to our client and other prominent persons in Ghana.
Firstly, our client take note of the generally acerbic and vitriolic tone of language as well as the contemptuous imputations contained in your letters which are directed at him although addressed to the President of National House of Chief (NHC). Whilst observing that such language is inappropriate and unbefitting of communication between esteemed members of the august House of Chiefs, in the spirit of fostering harmony, accord and unity among noble brothers, we have been instructed to refrain from replying in similar tone.
The purpose of this rejoinder is to place on record a response to the unfortunate and, perhaps, deliberate misrepresentation by you of the circumstances culminating in the amendment to the composition of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs (ERHC) in your letter, contents of which have been published widely in both print and electronic media.
Your letter makes three broad allegations relating to:
i. Breach of protocol by failing to consult or secure “agreement on the modalities” of admission of some Divisional Chiefs into the ERHC;
ii. Skewed asymmetrical allocation inuring to Akyem Abuakwa’s domination in the ERHC;
iii. Alleged exclusion of New Juaben from the Divisional allocation allotted to the Paramountcies into the ERHC.
Before proceeding to address these allegations, it is pertinent to indicate that your letter was clearly written in ignorance of relevant facts affecting the subject you purported to write about. The composition of all Regional Houses of Chiefs, including the ERHC, have duly been effected in accordance with the procedure prescribed by article 274(2) of the Constitution and section 6 of the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759). Article 274(2) of the Constitution stipulates that a “Regional House of Chief shall consist of such members as Parliament may, by law, determine”. Further to this provision, section 6 of Act 759 provides thus:
“6. (1) In accordance with article 274 of the Constitution, the Regional House of Chiefs consists of members specified by legislative instrument made by the National House of Chiefs and issued under the signature of the President of the National House of Chiefs.”
It is worthy to note that at the time of writing your first letter dated 25th June 2020, a legislative instrument made by the National House of Chiefs and issued under the hand of the President of the National House of Chiefs was ready to be laid before Parliament in accordance with article 11(7) of the Constitution. The said legislative instrument was indeed laid in Parliament on 30th June 2020. Following the lapse of twenty-one sitting days of Parliament required by article 11(7), the legislative instrument, the Chieftaincy (Membership of Regional Houses of Chiefs) Instrument 2020, came into force as L. I. 227.
Further, it is apparent that at the time you wrote your second letter in which more vitriol was unleashed on our Client and the august House (14th July 2020) the legislative instrument regulating the membership of all Regional Houses of Chiefs issued under the signature of the President of the National House of Chiefs had long been laid in Parliament and going through processes required under article 11(7) of the Constitution.
We are not surprised by your lack of knowledge of these important matters of fact, because, indeed, you have failed or refused to attend meetings of the Regional House of Chiefs for the past seven (7) years (although your allowances for attendance is unfailingly paid and received). Your failure to either attend meetings of the ERHC for the past 7 years or conduct an enquiry on the issues raised in your letters explains the wild but unfounded allegations contained in your letters.
(i) BREACH OF PROTOCOL BY FAILING TO CONSULT OR SECURE “AGREEMENT ON THE MODALITIES OF ADMISSION OF SOME DIVISIONAL CHIEFS INTO THE ERHC.
A brief background to the decision by the ERHC to admit some divisional chiefs to the ERHC is necessary to clarify the procedure adopted. Prior to the entry into force of the new legislative instrument, the ERHC was composed of only eleven paramountcies – Akyem Abuakwa, Akyem Bosome, Akyem Kotoku, Akwamu, Akwapim, Kwahu, New Juaben, Yilo Krobo, Manya Krobo, Boso and Anum. Only eight (8) of these paramountcies presently have paramount chiefs. Out of the 8 paramount chiefs, chieftaincy disputes and other factors have effectively ensured that only five (5) paramount chiefs have been active in the ERHC for the past 7 to 8 years i.e.
i. The Okyenhene;
ii. Akyem Bosomehene;
iv. Konor of Manya Krobo; and
In fact, attendance records will show that you have not attended any meeting of the ERHC for over 7 years.
This ERHC situation was in sharp contrast with what pertained in the case of other Regional House of Chiefs who were constituted and populated in big numbers by both Paramountcies and Divisional chiefs
Indeed, the ERHC, even though representing a region by no means the smallest, had, by far, the lowest number of chiefs. In a variety of ways, this situation severely impacted on the constitutional and statutory functions of the House, as well as, its prominence in chieftaincy affairs at the national level.
Foremost, the ability to meet as a House and the discharge of one of its most important fundamental tasks, the resolution of chieftaincy disputes, suffered enormous strain. The 5 active members of the House listed above (which excludes your good self), became the de facto members of almost every committee, particularly, the Judicial Committee. The absence or unwellness of some of the members rendered a sitting virtually impossible for lack of quorum. A chieftaincy dispute emanating from any of the “active Paramountcies” became near impossible to resolve as the Paramount Chief concerned had to recuse himself from the Judicial Committee, with its attendant challenge of forming a quorum.
Further, at the national level, the representation of the ERHC at the National House of Chiefs was affected with other regions having the flexibility to choose from a greater “pool” of chiefs to represent their Regions.
In light of the foregoing, discussions were opened among stakeholder institutions – the National House of Chiefs, ERHC and the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs on the mechanism to address the problems identified above. Series of meetings commencing from May, 2019 and culminating in the one of 25th May, 2020 alluded to in your letter (which was attended by the full complement of active members), were held by the ERHC to deliberate on the issue. We are not surprised about your seeming obliviousness of these meetings since, as indicated, you have not been attending meetings for over 7 years, in spite of due service of notice on you.
Your failure or refusal to attend meetings notwithstanding, the Hon. Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Mr. Kofi Dzamesi requested to pay homage to you and explain the all-encompassing need to reform the composition of the ERHC, and request you to nominate divisional chiefs from the New Juaben Traditional Area to the ERHC. Your response to the Hon. Minister on the subject matter of discussions was reported to the House. In the spirit of preservation of amity and cordiality of relations among chiefs in the Eastern Region, we would keep most of the points made by you confidential, save to say that you stiffly opposed the idea of Divisional Chiefs sitting in the ERHC.
Be that as it may, the National House of Chiefs proceeded to make suggestions on the proposed reform resulting in the inequitable decision to grant unto you the right to nominate as many as six (6) divisional chiefs from the New Juaben Traditional Area for representation at the ERHC and same found its way into the new L.I. 227, thereby becoming law. It is quite apparent that your allegation of an “exclusion of New Juaben” from the paramountcies from which Divisional Chiefs will be nominated to the ERHC is hugely false and mischievous. No Traditional Area in Eastern Region has been excluded. On the contrary, every Traditional Area in Eastern Region has been accorded the right to nominate Divisional Chiefs for the purpose of representation in the ERHC.
Page 2 (paragraph D) of your letter of 14th July, 2020 cautions about the seriousness of “lying to the National House of Chiefs”. I hope you apply this caution to yourself in the matter of the clearly proven false allegations contained in the 2 letters authored by you and do the needful by rendering an unqualified apology to both the ERHC and the NHC for peddling such falsehood in the public domain since July 2020.
“SKEWED ASYMMETRICAL ALLOCATION INURING TO AKYEM ABUAKWA DOMINATION OF THE ERHC’’.
Of the deepest dye of mischief is the allegation by your good self that the inclusion of Divisional Chiefs is intended by “some Paramount Chiefs … to be prominent and promote their QUEST to be SUPREME”. You single out Akyem Abuakwa for attack and allege that “Akyem Abuakwa has submitted as many as Sixteen (16) Divisional Chiefs to be included in the New Structure.” This allegation is also laden with falsehood.
Quite clearly, from L. I. 227, Akyem Abuakwa has the right to nominate only eight (8) Divisional Chiefs, and not 16. The record of proceedings at the ERHC will show that the allocation of number of Divisional Chiefs to a Traditional Area was done based on a number of factors including, area or land size, number of towns and size occupied by the Paramountcies in the Eastern Region. It is a matter of public record that Akyem Abuakwa constitutes 5/8th of the total area of the Eastern Region and has 950 towns and villages. Of the 31 districts and 31 constituencies, Akyem Abuakwa has 13 districts and 13 constituencies (42%), Kwahuman has 5 districts and 5 constituencies (16%). New Juaben on the other hand, has only 2 districts and 2 constituencies (6%). (Not forgetting the fact that Akyem Abuakwa was originally the allodial owner of all the lands occupied by New Juaben and continue to enjoy a very cordial relationship with the Chiefs and people of the New Juaben Traditional area)
It would appear, therefore, that, contrary to your assertion, the allocation of 6 Divisional Chiefs to New Juaben in comparison to Akyem Abuakwa’s 8 and Kwahu’s 2 is very unequitable and far too generous. However, neither the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council nor our client is complaining. We will, therefore, entreat you to eschew sowing seeds of conflict and discord amongst Nananom.
ALLEGED EXCLUSION OF NEW JUABEN FROM THE DIVISIONAL ALLOCATION INTO THE ERHC.
We have sufficiently demonstrated above that this allegation is utterly false and malicious as, from L. I. 227 (2020), the Paramount Chief of New Juaben Traditional Area has the prerogative to nominate as many as 6 Divisional Chiefs unto the ERHC.
In general response to your complaints, we cannot fail to recognise the undercurrents of your fear about the possible “take-over” by newcomers in the ERHC. This clearly seems to be the inspiration for the spirited assault you mount on our client’s hard-earned reputation, all arising out of the well-intentioned effort to include some Divisional Chiefs in the ERHC. On page 1 of your letter dated 25th June 2020, you allege:
“The composition as it stands or as it is being proposed is a steamy reactive delivery and unpleasantly obtrusive. It is a take-over by the new-comers who have come in their huge numbers. Eventually, all the Paramount Chiefs will lose their say at the House and be voted out on all issues during deliberations.”
On page 3 (paragraph F) of your letter dated 14th July, 2020, you state that:
“Another critical issue to resolve is the role that the Divisional Chiefs will be playing in the ERHC. This has to be debated and accepted by all constituents BEFORE inserting an inclusion clause with an appropriate cap….”
You did not sufficiently conceal your fears about the admission of Divisional Chiefs into the ERHC. I would urge you to look at the bigger picture, rise above those fears and support this move which will rather promote inclusion and development in the ERHC, as the purpose for which it was established by the laws of Ghana, has for far too long been adversely impacted by how it is presently constituted. We can take a cue from other Regional Houses of Chiefs which have long reformed their composition to include Divisional Chiefs. There has been no chaos or disruption of the roles and privileges of Paramount Chiefs as a result of the admission of Divisional Chiefs. It is to be noted that certain privileges of a Paramount Chief at the Regional House of Chiefs, like occupying the Presidency of a Regional House of Chiefs, are not extended to Divisional Chiefs.
We hope the foregoing will assuage you apprehension and tone down your resentment on this matter
Kwame A Boateng Esq.
Head of The Ofori Panin Fie Legal Team
The President, National House of Chiefs
The Speaker of Parliament
The Chief Justice