GBA Boss To Go To Court …To Challenge Ban On Drumming, Funerals

The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Nene Abayateye Amegatcher is contemplating seeking interpretation from the Supreme Court on the legality of the bans that are imposed form time to time by traditional rulers in the country, in respect of festive occasions. Mr. Amegatcher told The Ghanaian Times that he was interested in getting the Supreme Court to pronounce on the matter because he believed the action of the traditional rulers was affecting the country’s economy. Speaking in an interview in Accra Nene Amegatcher said he “believes that if we are to continue this way, our economy will continue to be affected and we will not be making any progress. “When a ban is imposed on noise-making, the beer bar operator who plays music to attract customers, the night clubs, and all those who have to use loud speakers to play music to attract buyers, would be put out of business for the period of the ban and this would affect their income,” he explained. Mr. Amegatcher, who had been asked for his views on the face-off that arose between the Ghana Boxing Authority and the Ga Traditional Council over the council’s decision not to allow the boxing bout between Braimah Kamoko (Bukom Banku) and Ayittey Powers scheduled for May 15 because of the ban, was concerned about the loss in earnings that it would have caused to the boxing authority. He also said casket dealers lost income as a result of the ban on funerals imposed form April 29, whilst the Asantehene celebrated his 15th enstoolment and Akwasidae Kesie. The ban was lifted on May 22. He also feared for the bereaved families who might have to pay more for keeping their dead relatives in the morgue longer than necessary. “I want a situation where the Supreme Court will rule on this matter once and for all, because the traditionalists also say that there is a constitutional provision which says that our traditions, customs beliefs and practices should be preserved,” he said. The GBA boss recalled that “some years ago, the association filed a suit in the Supreme Court to challenge bans that were imposed by the Ga Traditional Council. We went to court but somewhere along the line, the Accra Metropolitan Authority, or so, intervened and said they wanted to sit down and settle the cast amicably. “But now that it is going on, and I believe it is affecting the economy of this country, I am interested in getting the Supreme Court to pronounce on it. “And,I can tell you without any doubt in my mind, without any blink of my eye that all those bans, from that of the Asantehene on funerals, to that of the Ga Traditional Council on noise-making and to the ban on the pounding of fufu on Saturdays etc, are all unconstitutional,” the GBA boss declared. Nene Amegatcher contended that “Ghanaians have come to the point in their lives as a country that the traditional authorities should understand that society is dynamic and that the people are moving forward as a country and things are changing. “This is what they were doing in the past, thinking that is how the country would be developed over the years. That is no longer in line with the realities of modern situations. And, I believe that if we have to compare ourselves from the time these bans were being imposed, pre-1957 and post 1957, we would see where we are as against other countries where these chieftaincy institutions do not exist. “They have gone years ahead of us and they are still working very hard, day and night, to improve the economies of their countries. So, if we are going to stay in these traditional things and always be restricted on account of one person saying he is the traditional head, telling us what ought to be done, we will not develop ourselves as a country,” he said. The GBA boss contended that there are constitutional provisions that guarantee the rights of a citizen; the freedom to worship, the freedom to practice their religion, the freedom to eat if they want to, and the freedom to association and be part of any assembly that they want to be part of. But, he argued that “in interpreting the constitution, you have to look at where we have come from and why certain provisions which were not in previous constitutions have now been made, despite the fact that we have similar provisions for preserving our traditional customs, rules and practices you have to understand and balance it”. According to Nene ,Amegatcher, some of the traditional councils were acting out of pure ignorance and that it had come to a time when the Supreme Court should rule on the matter once and for all, and the we would know where we are going.”