Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Omanhin of Elmina jailed

Chieftaincy in Elmina was never unproblematic. Especially the position of the paramount chief of the Edina State, the Omanhin, has been hotly debated throughout history, with depositions, and long interegnums. The latest development is the incarceration of the incumbent Omanhin, Nana Kodwo Conduah, for contempt of court. The High Court at Cape Coast sentenced him to 3 months imprisonment and a fine of 3,000 cedis today.

The sentence stems from a dispute that goes back to 1998, when Nana Kodwo Conduah was first presented as the successor to the deceased Omahin of Elmina. In 2002, this dispute came to a head, with an injunction, which Nana did not adhere too. Why did it take so long for the original petitioners and the court to act on this? The sentence mentions a gift by telephone company MTN last year. And maybe the oncoming elections play a role as well. Traditionally, the Central Region and in it the constituency of Komenda - Edina - Eguafo - Abrem can play a decisive role when it comes to tipping the balance in a close vote. I have been away from Elmina too long to know all the details of the case as it stands now, however.

Below the transcript of the Daily Guide article reporting on the matter, or go to the link here: Elmina Chief Jailed

Daily Guide, General News Tuesday 17 April 2012

Elmina Chief Jailed

A Cape Coast High Court presided over by Justice James Benuyenah Benson on Monday sentenced the paramount chief of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Conduah, to three months in prison and a fine of GH¢3,000 for a contempt case against him. A cost of GH¢2,500 was also awarded against him in favour of the petitioners.

Briefing the press after the sentencing Justice Benson said a case of contempt was filed against Nana Conduah in 2002 restraining him from holding himself out as the paramount chief of the area and stop attending public functions in that capacity. He stated that sometime in the year 1998, a petition was filed before the Central Regional House of Chiefs by Supi George Asmah, the father of the former Chief Executive of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), George Frank Asmah. He said the petition declared that the purported installation of Nana Conduah was contrary to the customary practices and constitution of the Edina State and should be made null and void.

Justice Benson added that the petition also ordered the destoolment of Nana Conduah. He said subsequent to the filing of the petition, the petitioners applied for and obtained an interim injunction by the high court, restraining Nana Conduah from attending all public functions until his status as the Omanhen had been fully and finally determined by the appropriate forum. The judge disclosed that since 2002 till date, Nana Conduah had committed contempt on five occasions. In 2002, he was even made to sign an undertaking and fined but he failed to pay the fine and also did not sign the undertaking. Mr. Benson noted that Nana Conduah also failed to prosecute and appeal and was compelled by the Court of Appeal to sign the undertaking.

The presiding judge revealed that in 2011, Nana Conduah received a donation from MTN, a telecommunications industry in the country, presenting himself as the paramount chief of the area, towards the Edina Bakatue Festival. The judge expressed worry about the way Nana Conduah was bent on disobeying court orders despite many contempt cases leveled against him.

"He has not shown remorse or a sign of repentance, therefore the court took a serious exception to that and imposed a custodial sentence on him to deter him from disobeying orders of the court."

He said Nana Conduah’s conduct was contumacious and impaired the integrity of the court and legal system of the country, adding that the court could no longer tolerate that. Daily Guide gathered that the family members of the former MCE started distributing white bands in the courtroom immediately the judge pronounced the judgment. Daily Guide also gathered that Nana Conduah started weeping bitterly at the court immediately he was sentenced, a situation which compelled his followers who trooped to the court to also cry. Nana Conduah who was dressed in his traditional cloth, was ushered into the Ghana Prisons van and sent to the Ankaful prisons yard. Information gathered by Daily Guide indicated that the lawyers of Nana Coduah have filed an appeal against the sentence and have also applied for a bail term. The lawyers of Nana Conduah included Michael Atta Dadzie and Ebow Dawson. According to Mr. Dadzie they would do everything possible to ensure the release of Nana Conduah from prison.

A week later, the sentence was reduced to a 8 days in prison (already served), a fine of 3,000 cedis, and 2,500 cedis cost. (Graphic: Nana Conduah's Jail Term Reduced To Eight Days)

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