A day’s capacity-building training has been held for the Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs to promote efficient handling of cases by the House.
Resource persons from the Judicial Service addressed members of the committee on the role of chiefs as judicial officers, judgment writing by chiefs as judicial officers, and the role of legal counsel at the Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs.
Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, the President of the House who opened the workshop, said building the capacities of the various committees of the House was critical to the development of the chieftaincy institution.
He said the training formed part of his vision to improve the service delivery of the House by empowering the committees to function effectively for the collective good of the House.
The training, he said, would be extended to the other committees and urged members of the committees to avail themselves of the all-important exercise.
Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei, a Justice of the Appeal Court, said the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs formed part of the lower courts of Ghana and had a role to play in adjudicating matters affecting chieftaincy.
He said the House of Chiefs had jurisdiction over matters relating to the nomination, election, selection, or installation of a person as a chief or the claim of a person to be nominated, elected, selected, or installed as a chief.
Other cases that could be handled by the House, according to him, were the deposition or abdication of a chief, the right of a person to take part in the nomination, election, and selection as a chief.
“The jurisdiction of the chieftaincy courts are limited to only cause or matter affecting chieftaincy and they cannot, therefore, exercise any other jurisdiction”, Justice Adjei emphasized.
He said there was a clear distinction between customary law and custom, explaining that customary law was a set of laws whereas custom was a fact and operates within a particular locality.
According to him, a violation of custom does not attract judicial sanction, adding that customary laws were made per article 272 of the 1992 constitution.
He said a judge must not assume the role of a party and should not be intolerant or permit a party who is self-represented to be intimidated and implored members of the committee to be impartial as possible in the adjudication of cases brought before them.