A top member of the Savannah Research and Advocacy Network (SRAN), Samuel Sapak, has made an assertion that the Paramount Chief of Talensi, Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, has no business inviting judges to his palace to settle land-related disputes.
Sapak, who is also a native of Talensi, said only traditional landowners (called tindaama in Talen) and chiefs who also played the role of tindaama traditionally qualified to settle land disputes in Talensi.
His assertion runs counter to a statement the paramount chief made in self-defence after two people he sent on an errand to Justice Alexander Graham, a High Court judge, on Friday, 10 March 2023, narrowly escaped a jail sentence for contempt of court.
The paramount chief himself was lucky he did not face trial as lawyers, numbering 12, pleaded on his behalf after the judge asked the messengers he sent to produce him. The lawyers also prayed for mitigation on behalf of his messengers.
The two messengers— the Chief of Baare, Naab Nyarkora Mantii, and the paramount chief’s secretary, Richard Sunday Yinbil— met with Justice Graham privately in his chambers, saying the paramount chief had requested to have a meeting with him at his palace the following day (Saturday, 11 March 2023).
The proposed meeting, the two agents reportedly said, was meant to discuss some mining-related cases which some Talensi natives had brought before the judge.
Understanding their private mission as influence peddling, the judge exposed them to a crowd in his courtroom and put them on trial for contempt. He gave them a chance to tell the court themselves what they had told him privately.
But they declined to say it themselves. Then, the judge said it himself to the audience. They pleaded guilty and were convicted on their own plea.
In reality, Justice Graham was sitting on some mining-related cases involving some Talensi natives at the time the paramount chief attempted to meet with him.
But after the messengers were only ordered to sign a 6-month bond to be of good behaviour and were released, the Talensi Traditional Council issued a statement claiming that the paramount chief had only sent the two men to the judge in relation to some land-related cases.
“In the Talensi traditional setup, it is tindaamas who settle land issues. Tongo Rana has no land and he cannot settle any land dispute in Talensi,” affirmed Sapak. “If it is land case, it should be referred to tindaamas. So, he cannot send his chiefs or his messengers to his judge that he wants them to come so that he would discuss with them concerning land matters.”
“As for land matters, we know tindaamas own land in Talensi. In our traditional setup, chiefs are for people, tindaamas are for land. Some chiefs in the district own land. But he (Tongo Rana) in particular doesn’t own any land,” he added.
Sapak was speaking at a news conference jointly held by some civil society organisations in the Upper East Region against a visit by a delegation from the Judicial Council to the Tongraan’s palace on Monday, 26 June 2023.
Watch below video of Samuel Sapak making the assertion:
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org