Date: 20-01-2018 Time: 04:01:25:pm
Dr Kwaku Addeah is secretary to Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) of the Chiefs and people who propose the new ‘Oti Region’
Chiefs in the northern part of the Volta region have vowed to oppose any attempt by their counterparts in the south opposing a territorial split of the region.
The chiefs of the south have filed a suit in an Accra High court challenging the Commission of Inquiry collecting views on the creation a new region expected to be named Oti region
The traditional leaders in the south say the commission hearing held in four venues in the North discriminates against them although a fifth venue is in the regional capital Ho which is in the south.
They described the hearings predominantly in the North as an abuse of their fundamental human rights,”arbitrary, bereft of candor and unreasonable”. They want more venues set up in the south.
The lawyer for chiefs who are seven petitioners, Albert Quashigah has argued a split of the region would affect the south as much as the north hence the need to hear their views at hearings held in the south.
” If you want to do a public hearing on a matter as sensitive as this, you don’t create the impression that only those who live in the areas involved in the split will be considered”, the lawyer has told Accra-based Citi FM.
The Commission in response has explained the predominance of venues in the North is because it was chiefs there who petitioned the President demanding the creation of the new region.
It is therefore important to the success of their work to set up in the north to hear the people make their case, the commission chaired by chaired by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice S.A Brobbey has explained.
It said nothing stops the chiefs from the south from participating in any of the hearings.
Backing the commission’s position, a Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) of the Chiefs and people who propose the new ‘Oti Region’ have chided the seven petitioners.
The secretary to the JCC, Dr Kwaku Addeah, said the injunction application filed by the opposing chiefs amount to intimidation tactics.
“Nobody can intimidate us. If it happened in the past it can’t happen today” he said to cheers from supporters at a Saturday public hearing of the Commission at Nsuta-Buem.
“We do not see any merit at all in that court case. It is just a waste of time”, he said.
Photo: Paramount Chief of the Gbi Traditional Area, Togbega Gabusu IV is one of the influential leaders backing the split.
The JCC is ready with 10 lawyers to support the Attorney-General in court as they prepare to mount a defence of the commission hearings.
Dr Kwaku Addeah reiterated the commission’s explanation that the hearings in the North are because it was chiefs there who petitioned the President in accordance with Article 5 of the 1992 constitution.
The Article spells out the procedure for the creation of a region.
“Did the southern part write any petition the President? no, we wrote the petition to the president” he said.
“The president on his own did not just wake up one day and decided to create a commission of inquiry”, he rebuked the petitioners.
He said the hearings in the south does not preclude the chiefs from stating their case there and invited them to do so.
If the chiefs are disinterested in participating then “go and write your own petition”, the secretary dismissed.
According to the constitution, the commission set up in October 2017 has to submit a report to the president. If its recommendations back a referendum.
Photo: Some members of the commission in a photo with President Nana Akufo-Addo
President Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to direct the Electoral Commission to organise a referendum in the areas of the demand.
For a new region to be created, there needs to be a voter tuner-out of 50% of all those registered in the area demanding the split.
Of the 50% turn-out, 80% of registered voters must vote ‘Yes’ for the new region,
The petition for the creation of the new Oti region could be a fait accompli when a referendum on the matter is held later in the year.
This is because chiefs have a strong influence on residents who hold traditional authority in high esteem.
Residents in the south are not allowed to participate in the referendum by constitutional rules which means a ‘Yes’ vote in favour of the territorial split is expected to be a matter of course.
The areas to be carved out of the Volta region are inter alia: Jasikan district, Biakoye district, Kadjebi district, Nkwanta North and south and Krachie east, west and Ntsumuru districts. Also included are Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi traditional areas all in the Hohoe municipality.
The two main political parties, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) promised to take steps towards the creation of the new region.
The commission is also hearing petitioners who want a split in three other regions – Western, Northern and Brong-Ahafo regions.
Apparently, the NPP has the chance to give life to an age-old push for the creation of new regions which the proponents say will accelerate development in the relatively impoverished areas of the demand.