Kumasi High Court jails four ex-chiefs for contempt

A Kumasi High Court has sentenced four ex-sub-chiefs in the Kumawu Traditional Area to various prison terms for contempt in connection with a chieftaincy dispute in the area.

Former Akwamuhene, Nana Akwasi Baffoe, also known as Yaw Adom, will spend 14 days while each of the other three goes in for seven days.

They are Nana Okyere Krapa, ex-Akyempimhene, Nana Sarfo Agyekum, one time Aduanahene and Nana Akwasi Okyere Darko Fordjuor, ex-Nsumankwaahene.

Their conviction follows an ex-parte motion filed by Kumawuhemaa, Nana Serwah Amponsah, over a Daily Graphic publication attributed to them on March 18 and 27 respectively.

The High Court in an earlier sitting found contents of the publication misrepresenting and ordered the four to retract the full 2-page publication with equal prominence.

Part of the retraction read, “we regretfully state that we did not intend to impugn the integrity of the court in anyway and regret the said publication and profusely apologise to the court, the judge and the entire justice administration for any embarrassment, directly, caused and any damage or wrong impression the offending publication has caused in the mind of the public”.

Plaintiff’s lawyer, Rahman Mujeed, argued the defendants failed to respect the court’s directive by giving less prominence to the retraction only on a quarter of a page.

He indicated while the earlier publication was signed by all four defendants, the retraction was signed only by ex-Akwamuhene, Nana Akwasi Baffoe, for the others.

Mr. Mujeed explained the actions of the defendants amounted to disrespect for the court.

“The court is a collective power of all of us, and it should be respected. And that any attempt to disrespect it should be resisted fearlessly,” he explained.

Lawyer for defendants, Joseph Sam, pleaded for leniency for his clients but it was turned down.

Presiding judge, Justice Jacob Boon, slapped them with a total 35 days prison sentence saying “it will serve as a deterrent to others”.

The four ex-chiefs, each in black mourning cloth, were whisked away by police to begin their jail term.

After a long chieftaincy dispute which lasted for over seven years, Dr. Yaw Sarfo was installed as Kumawuhene under the stool name Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua on October 30, 2014.

He eventually swore the oath of allegiance to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei II at the Manhyia Palace on November 3, last year.

But some kingmakers, including the Aduanahene Nana Sarfo Agyekum, Akwamuhene Nana Akwasi Baffoe and the Akyempimhene Nana Okyere Krapah from the Ananaya clan insisted Dr. Sarfo was an imposition and would therefore not accept him.

The Kumawuhene, acting on the orders of the Asantehene is said to have destooled the four sub-chiefs.

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