The Koforidua High court in the Eastern region has dismissed an application seeking to restrain government from inaugurating the newly-created Abuakwa North municipal assembly.
The judge, Justice James Benson”‹, said government has not breached the Local Government Act in creating the new municipality, Joy News' Edwin Kofi Siaw reported.
In November 2017, government indicated it was creating 38 new metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the country in an effort to quicken the pace of development.
The Abuakwa North Municipal Assembly was to be carved out of existing East-Akim Municipal Assembly, bringing towns like Akyem Tafo, Kukurantumi, Osiem, Anyinasin, Obodanse, Tontro and Nobi under a new municipality.
Photo: The map of Eastern region with East Akim to be divided to create the Abuakwa North municipal assembly
But the planned inauguration in March 2018 was halted by an injunction forcing the President's representative to the inauguration Defence minister Dominic Nitiwul to return to Accra. The injunction irked the Okyehene, Osagyefo Amotia Ofori-Panin.
Photo: The Okyehene, Osagyefo Amotia Ofori-Panin
“How dare you put an injunction on a government policy to make Akyem Kukurantumi the capital of Abuakwa North Municipal Assembly without petitioning the chiefs of the land. This action is a gross disrespect to the traditional council,” he said.
“Who are those two who went to that extent to disgrace themselves, disgrace chiefs of Tafo and Kukurantumi, myself and even our president who is from Abuakwa. They have disrespected and disregarded our authority with impunity because they did not even see the need to inform the chiefs,” the Okyehene fumed.
The two citizens of Tafo, Adjei Boateng and Addo Sarpong asked the court to stop the President from making Kukurantumi, the capital of the new municipality.
The plaintiffs contended that, Akyem Tafo is more qualified as a municipal capital than Kukurantumi, considering the number of government offices and infrastructure at Akyem Tafo.
A public protest in December 2017 was organised by the Akyem Tafo Youth Movement and backed by the chiefs.
Photo: Chief of Akyem Tafo, Osabarima Adusei Peasah IV expressing disappointment in government's decision
A leader of the protest argued, "the biggest market within the proposed Municipal Assembly is situated in New Tafo Akim. The market contributes almost 50% of revenue to the current Assembly which comes second to royalties paid by mining companies within the current Assembly (East-Akim Municipal)," he said.
He explained most of the Small Scale and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are located within Tafo which provides some informal jobs for the local people.
Days before the demonstration, the youths had petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo calling on him to make Akyem Tafo, the district capital to honour the memory of murdered Member of Parliament Joseph Danquah Adu who hails from Tafo.
In the affidavit filed in response to injunction and statement of case by the plaintiffs, the respondents opposed claims that the choice of Kukurantumi as the Municipal capital was wrongfully done.
The respondents also said the applicants action has been done in bad faith because they failed to raise their concerns and waited until the eve of the inauguration of the Assembly.
Also, the respondents contend that legal requirements in the 1992 constitution and the Local Government Act were all met in the citing of the capital.
Article 11(7) of the 1992 constitution requires that an order or regulation made by persons empowered by the Constitution should be laid before Parliament and published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament.
The rule or order comes into force at the expiration of twenty-one sitting days after it is laid before Parliament. A two-thirds majority in Parliament is need to annul the order before the expiration of the twenty-one days.
Section 1(4) of the Local Government Act 936 also states a minimum population of 75,000 people is required to select a town as a district capital among other conditions.
The State argued in court, all these conditions have been met in the choice of Kukurantumi as the principal office of the Abuakwa North Municipal Assembly.