Legal practitioner Zakaria Tanko Musah, has stated that it is wrong for any traditional leader to banish a person from their terrain under the 1992 constitution, as it infringes on the rights of the person.
According to him, the freedom of movement of every Ghanaian is guaranteed by law and cannot be curtailed.
His statements come on the back of recent issues regarding the banishment of one Assistant Commissioner of Police, Peter Kofi Ayarizeng from the Yendi town by the Dagbon Overload, Ya-Naa Abukari Mahama II.
Per reports by local news portal DailyGuideNetworkOnline, the Ya-Naa on Saturday ordered ACP Ayarizeng to leave the town following allegations that the latter disrespected his (Ya-Naa’s) authority by refusing to withdraw a matter from the police station for settlement at his palace.
“Every Ghanaian has the right to freedom of movement. It has to be in accordance with the law. Customary law is a source of law in Ghana but is sub subservient to the constitution in terms of sources of law in Ghana. So we cannot do anything that infringes on a person’s constitutional rights. We are in a democracy, therefore, no traditional authority can banish you from a particular territory in Ghana,”
“Therefore once the right being curtailed or interferes with is a constitutional one, it is problematic to try and curtail it with a subordinate law,” Mr Tanko said in an exclusive interview with GhanaWeb on the subject.
He, however, added the fact that in exceptional cases where the institution involved deems it appropriate to withdraw an officer or staff for safety reasons, that option may be explored.
Where the individual banished deems such actions unacceptable also, Mr Tanko maintained, they could take up the matter in the court of law.
“Sometimes it is in the person’s own interest or the person’s organisation’s interest to withdraw the person if the person’s security and safety can be compromised. If you think that the decision is not acceptable, you can go to court and challenge that,” the law lecturer added.
On the relationship between the two, Mr Tanko stated that the Chiefs and traditional council and the Ghana Police Service both have respective roles to play with regards to chieftaincy conflicts and those roles must be understood to prevent conflict.
“If there are chieftaincy matters, they are handled by the chieftaincy traditional council but if it has an element of criminality then the police will have to be involved. So it doesn’t matter whether there is chieftaincy or not, if there is a matter of crime in it, then the police will handle the criminal aspect. Then the civil aspect that have to do with chieftaincy, the chiefs have their own way of handling that. So probably, there was some miscommunication or misunderstanding of the roles, and it has to be cleared.’
“Ultimately for the sake of peace and good relations between the police and the traditional authorities, it is better to try and resolve the matter amicably and for both parties to learn to co-exist in a spirit of goodwill and respect for the respective roles of each other,” he concluded.
Some irate youth in the Yendi municipality believed to have the support of the overlord of Dagbon, Ya Na Abukari Mahama II attempted to attack the Yendi Divisional Commander ACP Peter Akokora Ayirezang in front of the Yendi Divisional Police Headquarters.
DailyGuideNetwork Online gathered that the attack on the police commander was as a result of the commander’s refusal to grant the request of the overlord of Dagbon regarding a matter at the police station.
According to the report, Ya Na ordered that since the Divisional Commander does not respect him and Dagbon, he should immediately leave the town.
The Divisional Crime Officer, Divisional BNI Commander and some police officers went to the Gbewaa palace to intercede on behalf of the police chief but the overlord did not accept their plea and insisted that the police commander must leave.
The Yendi Divisional Commander ACP Peter Akokora Ayirezang in a telephone interview told DGN Online that he respects the overlord of Dagbon, Ya Na Abukari Mahama II and Dagbon as a whole adding that he does not have any issues with the overlord.
“I respect Ya Na, I respect Dagbon and I hold him in high esteem because he is my King.”
According to him, he did not commit any offence adding that he was performing his duty as a police officer.