Stay Neutral In Chieftaincy Issues

Harry Anthony Attipoe, a chieftaincy expert, has called on members of the security agencies, especially the police and military, to stay neutral in their handling of chieftaincy issues, as their active involvement could lead to chaos.

According to him, even though the security agencies have a constitutional mandate to restore law and order in the country, they come into the picture only when there is chaos, and the security, as well as the stability of an area, is threatened.

“However, security agencies may contribute to conflicts when they actively support a feuding faction in a chieftaincy conflict or dispute.

“This damages their neutrality and credibility, and the people are more likely to attack them, leading to an escalation of an already volatile situation,” the chieftaincy expert explained.

Mr. Attipoe, who is also the Registrar of the Greater Accra House of Chiefs, made the call in an eight-page document he authored, entitled; “Chieftaincy as a partner in Development in Ghana,” to throw more light on issues relating to chieftaincy issues in the country.

He continued that the judiciary, as well as the various judicial committees of the national and regional Houses of Chiefs, which has the responsibility to interpret our laws and resolve cases that are filed before them, also have a duty to see to it that the right things are done.

“When chieftaincy conflicts or disputes are brought before them, it is their duty to examine the facts available and refer to the existing legislature to determine the issue.

“When this is not done properly, conflicts may occur. Undue delay in passing judgment, and bias in the judicial process, may lead to conflict. For example, some panel members are compromised and they divert justice in favour of others,” he noted.

Touching on the role of queenmothers in the causes of conflicts of disputes in chieftaincy issues, the chieftaincy expert noted that they are persons who belong to one of the ruling houses or gates in the Ghanaian traditional settings entrusted with the nomination of the right candidate to be vetted for the position of a Chief.

Continuing, he said: “In traditional areas where matrilineal inheritance or succession is practiced, the Queenmother is the custodian of the traditional lineage. When the Queenmother is, therefore, biased in the nomination of a candidate for the stool or skin, it is likely to lead to conflict.

“Finally, after the Chief has been enstooled or enskinned, her counsel to the Chief is very important. Any negative advice to the Chief can spark conflicts,” he observed, adding, for example, the situation where a Queenmother decides to impose her son on the stool.

Another group of persons whose role, when not played well, has the tendency to create mayhem in a traditional setting when it comes to the selection and enstoolment of a chief, is the kingmakers.

He explained that kingmakers are traditional leaders or elders who have been constituted into an Electoral College in the nomination, vetting, installation or enstoolment and outdooring of a Chief.

Mr. Attipoe averred that conflicts arise when the kingmakers are compromised into rejecting the right nominee, and opting for a less popular candidate, or someone who does not belong to the royal family.

“There are instances, where kingmakers sideline the Queenmother and make their own choice. For example, they accept money and other gifts in exchange for the Stool from non-royals,” he stressed.

Explaining further, the chieftaincy expert called on the government to strengthen the structures of the chieftaincy institution, through the provision of adequate funding to ensure that chiefs play their roles properly in the nation-building process.

Quoting Article 270, chapter 22 of the 1992 Constitution to buttress his point, he revealed that the government is not expected to interfere in chieftaincy issues, rather, it is supposed to remain neutral.

“However, conflicts have arisen because governments have used chiefs to propagate their political agenda. In some cases, government’s non-intervention in disputes has led to violent conflicts, which have adversely affected the nation,” he pointed out.

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