A Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, Justice Gabriel Pwamang, has stated that the Judiciary will continue to partner traditional authorities in resolving disputes in the country.
“The Judiciary has found the traditional authorities of the various communities as partners in our quest to serve the public through resolving disputes that are taken to the courts and law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Justice Pwamang noted that the essence of the collaboration over the years between the Judiciary and the chieftaincy institution in determining criminal cases was to ensure peace and unity in society.
Justice Pwamang said this when he led a four-member delegation of the Judicial Council to pay a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, and his elders in his palace last Monday.
Among the delegation was a Justice of the High Court, Justice Aboagye Tandoh, the National President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Yaw Acheampong Boafo, a government nominee on the Judicial Council, Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, and the Deputy Director of Communications, Judicial Service of Ghana, Rosemary Gaisie.
On March 10, 2023, two persons who had been sent by the paramount chief to invite the Presiding Judge of the Bolgatanga High Court two, Justice Alexander Graham, for a discussion, were cited for contempt.
The two were the Chief of Baare, Naab Nyakora Mantii and the Secretary of the traditional council, Richard Sunday Yinbil.
The court found them guilty of contempt and accordingly made them sign a six-month bond to be of good behaviour at the Upper East Regional Police Command before they were released.
Justice Graham, who was the acting Supervising High Court Judge of the Upper East Region, vacated his post a week after he convicted the two persons.
He left Bolgatanga following death threats and attacks at his residence.
Another judge posted there also left due to similar reasons and the Bolgatanga High Court currently has no judge, the Daily Graphic has learned
Justice Pwamang said the long-standing cooperation between the Judiciary and traditional authorities had never compromised the independence of the Judiciary in administering justice without fear or favour to all manner of persons who appeared before it.
He stated that another aspect of cooperation between the Judiciary and traditional authorities had been in the area of customary arbitration and mediation, whereby at times, the courts found it appropriate to encourage or even involve traditional authorities in that regard.
“This often happens when traditional authorities are called upon to mediate or arbitrate in disputes that are filed in court but which the judges take the view that they would be best resolved amicably out of court,” Justice Pwamang averred.
He also emphasised that the gesture by the Judicial Council was not intended to affect the decision of the judge that later led to an explanation by the paramount chief, both of which gained media attention.
Justice Pwamang stressed that the processes and procedures of the court could appear intricate to the uninitiated and that the incident involving the emissaries of the paramount chief was one of the procedures of the court.
“This may not be easily appreciated by most people but the judge exercising his jurisdiction the way he deemed appropriate under the circumstances that were presented to him,” he said.
Justice Pwamang also implored the media to be circumspect in their reportage on issues relating to conflicts and the courts, saying “we expect the media to at all times check with the right sources to ensure that their reportage does not inflame passions”.
He noted that as the fourth estate of the realm, the media should remember that “it is our collective responsibility to ensure peace in our communities at all times for mutual benefit”.
In his remarks, Tongraan Nanlebegtang reiterated that the invitation he extended to the judge was in good faith and without malice as it was intended for them to have frank discussions.
He expressed gratitude to the Judicial Council for calling on him to patch the differences so that they could continue to work together going forward.
While publicly accepting in good faith what he discussed with the delegation in camera, Tongraan Nanlebegtang commended the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, for making efforts to address the issue.
“As a council, we have taken everything in good faith, everything that happened is in the past and should remain as such,” he stated.