Contempt Case Throws Out
An attempt by one Arthur Hammond Tetteh Quarcoo to bar Nii Jafro Mensah Larkai from holding himself out as the head of the Onamrokor Adain family of Accra has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
When the late Paul Ayittey Tettey, who thought of himself as the head of the family, instituted a legal action against the late B.A Quarcoo and Nii Jafro, the court, presided over by Justices Yaw Appau, P.K Gyaesayor and K.A Acquaye, gave judgment on March 29, 2012 and threw out a contempt case brought against Nii Larkai and others.
In his ruling, Justice Appau described the decision of the High court to restrain the appellants from holding themselves out as chiefs and elders of the Onomrokor Adain family as unfortunate insisting that “the court had no jurisdiction to make those orders when no such issues were ever placed before it for determination.”
Justice Appau said “the trial court could not hide under the cloak of inherent jurisdiction in a penal application like contempt to make orders on issues which no court (including the trial court) was ever called to determine.
“Though the appellants made very detailed submissions in respect to each of the five grounds in support of their place and again that they were never in contempt of any orders of the court per Ayebi J, as alleged, I would not tread that path since in my opinion, the issues involved in this appeal are very narrow and that all the grounds could be lumped together and determined at a go.
“The publication by the appellants of a family meeting following the decision of the Supreme Court dated 16th February 2010 to elect the 1st appellant (Nii Larkai) as head of family and the other appellants as elders to assist him did not constitute a breach or disobedience of Ayebi’s orders,”he said.
He stated “the fact that the order of Ayebi J, with regard to the headship of the Onamrokor Adain family was limited to only Paul Ayitey Tetteh and he died with it.
“If the respondent thinks that the publication of 8th April 2010 by the appellants did not represent the true state of affairs and that it is not true the whole family met to elect the 1st appellant as the head of family as the publication stated, then he should challenge that fact in a court of law for that issue to be determined,” he emphasised.
“The respondent cannot use the 2006 judgment of Ayebi J as a carte blanche to forever restrain the 1st appellant from ever becoming a head of family since the judgment did not state so” and that “the trial judge was therefore wrong in convicting the appellants on the charge of contempt of court when there was no basis for doing so.”
He therefore concluded that “the conviction and sentence of the appellants on the offence of contempt is hereby set aside and all the consequential orders that went with it are accordingly reversed.”