KING GHARTEY V DESTOOLMENT CRISIS
When troubles started brewing in Simpa over his reign, King Ghartey V, installed in 1969 had been more than 20 years on the Stool as the Paramount Chief of Simpa. What really triggered this? On 5th October, 1946, then as Rev. Sam Q. G. Ghartey, in accepting the honour of becoming the next Odefe of Simpa, wrote in his acceptance letter to the District Commissioner at Winneba that:
"I have the honour to advise you for the information of Government that after long consideration of the claims made by the Oman, I have decided to accept the position and have entered into an Agreement with the Oman as per original copy hereto attached"
Reading through the said agreement that was signed on the same day, paragraphs 3 & 4 stated:
"The Omanhene-Elect – undertakes upon his assumption of the office of Omanhene after his said Installation to abide by the Native Constitution, Customary Laws and Usages of the said people and State of Effutu or Winneba as aforesaid" - Page 3
"To see that the State Council when constituted passes Rules and Regulations and makes orders under the Native Authority (Colony) Ordinance for the abolition and destruction of all public fetish groves and shrines and for the abolition of all fetish and other practices & and of a public nature in-consistent with and opposed to the observance of the principles of Christianity. And the Oman further agrees to assist the Omanhene in every effort to supress idolatry in every form" - Page 4
King Ghartey V had distinguished himself as a successful king of his people. While in Accra attending to his eye, a newspaper publication on 18th March 1971 declared him V destooled. Before then, (before his Accra visit), much had happened with the Tufuhen wrestling for his authority and necessitating a petition to the Hon. Prime Minister on March 3rd. over his destoolment. The petition revealed that by March 1971, vacancies had existed in the Effutu Traditional Council on the account of death in the past eight or nine years. These were the Adonten, Twafo and Benkum stools.
The petition recalled that the National Liberation Council requested for a statement on Effutu Constitution which led to a meeting of the Traditional Council on November 18, 1967 to declare this request to the Traditional Council. The minutes and resolution sent to the government through the Office of the District Administrative Officer informed government that there was a 24 to 3 vote in favour of patrilineal succession. This decision according to the records confirmed the letters sent to government by late Tufuhen Otoobuah and Chief Annobil in 1908. The idea was therefore not a new creation but an age-long traditional usage. The records further showed that at the request of King Ghartey V, those chiefs from the matrilineal lines then in office had been permitted to reign till their death and for replacements through reverting to the original patrilineal houses. With the pending request for the filling of vacancies, it was clear that action would be taken along the lines of the decision of the Traditional Council transmitted to government.
To comply with the request made by the government of the Progress Party through the Central Chief Executive for an early filling of the vacancies in the membership of the Traditional Council, King Ghartey’s petition revealed that arrangements were made for customary “leaves” to be placed in the paternal houses of those chiefs affected but the Tufuhen started negotiations with the maternal houses of these chiefs resulting with the placing of “leaves” in their family houses (maternal). This development had the full support of the leadership of the Dentsefo Asafo and a section of Tuafo Asafo. King Ghartey V submitted an application for a police pass to parade the chiefs on 29th August 1970 but this was turned down. With a proposed parading of the chiefs on 13th October by the Tufuhen, the main stream Tuafo asafo protested this Dentsefo led parading of new sub-chiefs on 12th October 1970. Another application on 14th October for a permit to the Police failed. Within that week, Adu Bortsie went to the Palace and intimidated the king asking if he did not understand the letter and word of Mr. Annobil’s declaration. A stool also belonging to one of the paternal houses was stolen and lodged in a family house. These developments were brought to the attention of the District Administrative Officer and the Police which was subsequently conveyed to the Central Chief Executive but nothing was done about them. King Ghartey V was bemused in the circumstances he found himself.
The impetus to pursue his objective was given by a large support from the Winneba Welfare Association whose letter to the Central Chief Executive dated 28th December, 1970 subjecting the king to “undue, unwarrantable and impertinent imputations”. The Tuafo Asafo also challenged the contents of the Association’s resolution which imputed some statements to them. They had alleged Tuafo involvement in the Association’s meeting when these decisions were made in their protest letter dated 11th January, 1971. Even though no response was received from them, some of the Asafo members were arrested with no charges and given bail to report to the Police from time to time.
These actions of the District Administrative Officer and the Police were as a result of the statements made by the Central Chief Executive during his last visit to Winneba. He ignored the details of the Traditional Council resolution of November 18, 1967, acted upon the application from the Tufuhen that was supported by the resolution of the Winneba Welfare Association though in contradistinction to the resolution of the Traditional Council and gave directives to the Police to enable Tufuhen carry on with the outdooring of the new chiefs. The arrangements were hurriedly done and the chiefs swore oath at Tsetseguaso (ancestral market) before Nana Tawiah Ababio, the Kyidomhen and Odzikro of Nsuekyir. Before them King Ghartey V had applied for pass on 2/2/72, 10/2/71 and 18/2/71 all of which were denied by the Police. When through with his swearing-in of chiefs, the Tufuhen then summoned the people (Winneba and its villages) to a meeting at the Palace by gong-gong on 12th March 1971 for an undisclosed purpose but this was stopped by the District Administrative Officer who recognised that the Tufuhen had no authority to cause gong-gong to be beaten.
It is important to question if these developments would have occurred should the colonial government, in whose tenure Ghartey V was enstooled? This is what the District Commissioner wrote when reporting on the agreement signed between Rev S. Q. G. Ghartey and his people by stating:
"It is confidently anticipated that the reversion to the Patrilineal line of succession and the Nsona clan as exemplified by the installation of the Rev. Ghartey as Omanhene will open the way to a new era of peace and progress in the Effutu State"
And that as if by providence, the Commissioner remarked on the award of cash to the Omanhene in the event of an unlawful destoolment:
"The clause concerning the payment of £1,000 in the event of the Omanhen being un-lawfully destooled is, in my opinion, unnecessary since the lawfulness or otherwise of any such destoolment is apparently left to Government to determine"
But this was happening when the colonial administration was long defunct. The new Political administration had been drowned in the nuances of Simpa traditional polity.
The meeting at the Palace was to intimidate the Omahen to sit in state to receive the new chiefs but he was then away in Accra. King Ghartey V was deemed to have violated an oath of office for failure to attend to a call from the Oman and therefore two days after, on 13th March 1971 he was declared destooled. Rioters organised by the Tufuhen and including Kofi Akrantsi, Kwesi Akwandoh, Kweku Atta, Kodjoe Alata, Kwesi Kwa Petsia and Kow Ambaa ransacked the Palace, closed all the doors and took away valuable items and the keys to the palace. Following the delay in the Omanhen’s return home, the Tuafo Asafo leadership also petition the Office of the Prime Minister on 24/5/1971after a telegraph had been sent on 28th March, 1971. The telegraph read:
"Dr. Busua, Prime Minster, Accra, Main Number One Asafo Company Winneba strongly deny alleged destoolment Omanhene Effutu Traditional Area as procedure totally against custom we protest Essuekyirhene and Tufuhene’s action without our knowledge and consent as custom lays down that Companies must do this together” “Supi Kwesi Budu, Number One Asafo Company, members of our Company Have been greatly worried by the continued stay at Accra of the Omanhene, and this has created such unrest in this area."
They said further that Nana has been advised against his intended early return until the government finally advised him to do so. They were disturbed by the lack of safety for personal effects and archives of the Ahenfie. They had no complaint against the Omanhen and had no hand in what the Tufuhen and Essuekyirhen had done.
On 28th June 1971, the Secretary to the Cabinet, L.B. Odro informed the Central Chief Executive to ensure a safe passage of Nana Ghartey V to the Palace as directed by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister per telegraph. In a separate letter from the Office of the Prime Minister signed by the Secretary to the Cabinet to the District Administrative Officer, it was stated that the Traditional Council had no right or whatsoever to declare the Omanhen destooled. The Office of the Prime Minister had consulted the Attorney General’s Department and observed that since no formal charges had been preferred against the Omanhen; their act in declaring the Omanhen destooled renders it liable to the full rigors of the law for a breach of the Constitution. The act amounts to a flagrant breach of elementary rules of justice which government cannot afford to permit to happen. The District Administrative Officer was to ensure that the Prime Minister directives were carried out- reinstatement in his Palace to perform his duties as the recognised Omanhen.
Though King Ghartey V arrived home safely on 11th June, 1971, a telegraph to the office of the Prime Minster dated 13th June, 1971 stated:
"Arrived safely Friday eleventh June but ousted from Ahenfie by enemies Next morning after Police withdrawal therefrom writing Nana Ghartey"
A formal petition for the destoolment of Ghartey V was filed at the Central Region House of Chiefs. This enabled and strengthened the intransigence of the Tufuhen who could not be controlled by the state apparatus because it condoned and connived some practices and so was virtually in charge of affairs while King Ghartey V was present in Winneba helpless. Court orders were disregarded while day in and day out the Police arrested and detained those who obeyed the traditional orders of the Omanhen.
Prior to dealing with the main destoolment petition pending at the Central Region House of Chiefs the Judicial Committee heard a motion that sought an order for the delivery up of stool property including the keys to the Ahenfie, Records and Files to the Defendant, Nana Ghartey V. That matter also sought an order that so long as Plaintiff continued illegally to keep in his possession the said stool properties seven days after the making of the Order, the hearing of that case against the Defendant will be stayed and another restraining the Plaintiff from collecting tolls from fishermen pending the hearing and determination of the suit in deciding on this matter, the Judicial Committee took cognisance and commented that … notwithstanding a decision of the Judicial Committee of the Central Region House of Chiefs on July 26, 1973 that declared the alleged destoolment null and void ab initio for being procedurally wrong, Plaintiff continued to treat Nana Ghartey V with contempt, continued to keep the keys to the Ahenfie and indulge in those acts of wrongful doing with impunity. The Judicial Committee therefore held that Plaintiff by their conduct, in absence of denial to the allegations in the Affidavit, want to show complete disregard for the requisites of the law and act only by their sensor perceptions. They said to allow such a situation was to dethrone the law and sow the seed of anarchy and disorder. They therefore ordered Plaintiffs to surrender and deliver up to Defendant all Stool properties illegally seized from the Ahenfie under the supervision of the D.A.O. and those other reliefs sought in that matter before them.
At this point there had been three separate judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Central Region House of Chiefs whose orders given on 26th July 1973, 26th October 1973 and 14th November 1973 respectively have been disobeyed or ignored by the Tufuhen.
During the hearing of the substantive case, a message from the panel hearing the matter sent word to Nana Ghartey V through his Counsel the main import of which stated that “… Nana’s case is the first under the Act and it is very important. But in view of the Medical Reports we suggest that both counsel in the case should try and get it settled so that Nana should be given a reasonable compensation and a promise made that upon his demise he will be given a Royal funeral”. On reading this message from his Counsel, King Ghartey V questioned in his response dated 3rd February if he should be removed from his ancestral stool because of old age. He commented further that the substantive case of the 13 charges have been dragged beyond the limits of Section 15 (1) of Act 370. In his conclusion he hinted that the Plaintiff, according to his Counsel, imagine that if his view was not upheld by the Judicial Committee, there would be chaos or lack of peace and order in Winneba. He said that was clearly an intimidation if not a ‘contempt of court’. It looked as if the panel was decided on the matter even before they went into it.
Nana Ghartey V was facing 13 destoolment charges, he lost the case on 6 of the charges and was liable for entsoolment. The destoolment charges for which he was found liable were:
He went on an appeal at the National House of Chiefs and also lost the appeal. That judgment was given on 8th June 1976 in Kumasi.
Immediately after the National House of Chiefs judgment, Tufuhen Akwandoh and the group with whom he instituted the proceedings threatened to destool Nana Ghartey V formally by performing the requisite customary rituals for destooling an Omanhen without which Nana Ghartey V remained de jury Omanhen of the Effutu Traditional Area. Realising that after an Omanhen has been found guilty of offences meriting his destoolment the performance of the relevant customary rituals to formally destool him is by tradition done by the Otuano House and in repudiation of the right asserted by the Tufuhen and his associates to perform those rituals, Kow Gyanpanyin, as head of the Otuano House, instituted the suit in 1976 at the Central Region House of Chiefs against the Tufuhen and his associates for:
The judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Central Region House of Chiefs in this very suit delivered on 30th June, 1977 was in favour of the Plaintiff; Kow Gyan Panyin and his Otuano Royal House. The document which has suffered no appeal is celebrated as the blueprint on succession to the Effutu Paramount Stool. It is interesting to note that on1st April, 1977, the Government of Ghana before the case was concluded published a gazette notice (Local government Bulletin No. 12 page138) withdrawing its recognition for Nana Ghartey V. The matter went on to its logical conclusion when indeed the subject of the matter had been done with by government! Who then destooled King Ghartey V?