The Queenmother of the Denkyira State, Nana Ama Ayensuwa Saara III, has won a seven-month legal battle that sought to challenge the ownership of the ancient Denkyira Palace, where Odeefo Boa Amponsem III lived and ruled as the King of the State.
The Cape Coast High Court 3, presided over by Justice William Boampong, yesterday ruled in favour of the defendant and awarded cost of GH¢25,000 against the plaintiff, Abusuapanyin Nuamah.
It would be recalled that the Denkyira Traditional Council and the Denkyira Hemaa, Nana Ayensuwa Saara III, planned to build a befitting palace before the final burial of the late King, who has been in the morgue for over three years.
In view of this decision, the dilapidated building that once served as the palace of the late King and others before him was pulled down to have a more modern one built in its place.
Nevertheless, this was fiercely resisted by a faction within the Agona Royal Family, led by Ebusuapanin Nuama, who sued the Denkyira Hemaa at the Cape Coast High Court 3.
Ebusuapanin Nuamah, who was peeved at the demolition of the 19th Century building, instituted the legal action, claiming that the said building was the private property of the late Nana Nkwantabisa I, who ruled the Denkyira State in the ancient days.
He averred in his pleadings that the late King, Nana Nkwantabisa I, lived in the said building with his wife and children during his reign at his private residence.
This was disputed by the Denkyira Queenmother, who also stated in her pleadings that the said building was built purposely to serve as the Palace of the Denkyira State.
Palace of the Kings of Denkyira State, and served the same purpose during the reigns of all the five Denkyira Kings who ruled before Odeefo Boa Amponsem III.
Inadvertently, the litigation of the building adversely affected the plans of the Denkyira Traditional Council to give their late King, Odeefo Boa Amponsem III, a befitting burial.
The mortal remains of the late King of the Denkyira State have, as a consequence, remained at the mortuary since he died about three years ago.
According to reliable family sources, the current impasse in the Royal Agona Family, which has sharply divided it is the cause.
As a result of the division the two feuding factions legally battled over the purported building, which was built in the 19th Century.
The contention was whether the said building was built by the late King, Nkwantabisa, as his private place of abode, or for the purpose of serving as the palace of the Kings of Denkyira.
While Ebusuapanin Nuamah argued that said the building was the private property of the late King, the Queenmother maintained that it was built as the palace of the Kings of Denkyira.
During the trial that lasted for almost seven months, the plaintiff, defendant and their respective witnesses gave traditional oral evidence in support of their respective cases.
This was so, because none of the parties or their witnesses was alive at the time the building was put up.
By law, the proper guide to determine such a case when the parties are relying on conflicting oral traditional stories was to find out which of the stories, as presented by either party, was consistent with living memory.
Final determination by the court
Evidence gathered on record contradicted the case of the plaintiff that only Odeefo Boamponsem III briefly lived in the disputed palace.
Also, the plaintiff’s witnesses supported the case of the defendant’s successive Denkyira kings, who lived and ruled before Odeefo Boamponsem III, who all used the same building as a palace.
According to the court, the plaintiff’s own exhibit G, which was a letter he wrote to the Denkyira Traditional Council, contradicted his denial that the building had been used by successive kings.
Additionally, the court indicated that the fact that, Srowi Komfo, a Fetish Priest of the Denkyira State, was put in occupation of the building by the State, clearly showed that the property had been put up for communal use.
This, according to the court, was consistent with communal ownership than being the private property of Nana Nkwantabisa.
Reliefs sought by the plaintiff were dismissed in entirety, while a cost of GH¢25,000 was awarded against the plaintiff.
Celebration at Jukwa
Following the judgment yesterday, there was massive merry-making and jubilation on the streets of Jukwa, the traditional home of the Denkyiras, by some residents when the victory was communicated via mobile phones.
Before Nana Ayensuwaa Saara and her elders, who accompanied her to the court, could reach the town, hundreds of supporters had besieged her place amidst drumming, singing and dancing.
Nana thanks all for the victory
Delivering a short speech to those gathered, Nana Ayensuwaa Saara expressed appreciation to God for the victory and thanked her elders and the entire Denkyiraman for their support.
She explained that her primary focus was to ensure her late Uncle, Odeefo Boa Amponsem, who ruled and served Denkyiraman, could be given a befitting burial.