THE NATIONAL HOUSE OF CHIEFS
The Headquarters of the National House of Chiefs is in Kumasi, Ashanti Region. (The House, may, by a resolution, decide to place the headquarters at any other place).
The membership of the National House of Chiefs is composed of five (5) Chiefs (traditional rulers) from each Region of Ghana (10 in all) elected by the House of Chiefs of each Region.
The National House of Chiefs elects a President (and Vice President) from among their number. The President is the Head of the House. He (with his Vice) are elected for a three-year term of office. The Vice President acts as the Head of the House in the absence of the President.
Election of President/Vice President and Members:
The National Electoral Commission supervises any election of a chief as President, Vice President or member of the National House of Chiefs. The Chairman of the National Electoral Commission may by Legislative Instrument make such rules as he may think appropriate for regulating the conduct of elections of the President, Vice President and members of the National House of Chiefs.
Meetings of the House of Chiefs:
The National House of Chiefs meets in Kumasi for despatch of its business and at such other place and time as the House may determine but shall meet not less than twice in a year.
Number of Meetings:
The House may hold four (4) ordinary and two (2) extraordinary meetings in each year for the despatch of normal business and vital national issues which may be referred to it by the Government for the views of the Traditional Rulers.
Meeting Open to Public:
All meetings of the House is open to the public except Committee Meetings or a meeting of a Committee of the Whole House or as the House otherwise decides. The deliberations of the House is conducted in English.
Decisions and Voting:
All questions proposed for debate are to be determined by votes of the majority of members present and voting and in the event of an equality of votes, the President or person presiding at that meeting shall have a second or casting vote.
Standing Committee and other Committees of the House:
The National House of Chiefs shall appoint a Standing Committee consisting of the President, Vice President, Chairman of Finance and Staff Committee and President of the Regional House of Chiefs who for the time being is a Member of the National House of Chiefs. Beside the Standing Committee, the following Committees have been appointed in the House:
- Finance and Staff Committee
- Research Committee
- Stool/Skin Lands Committee
- Public Relations Committee and such other Committees as the House may decide).
All decisions of the various Committees shall pass through the Standing Committee for recommendation to the House for approval before implementation.
Functions of the Committees
The Standing Committee is charged with the steering and organising the functions of the National House of Chiefs and shall advise the House generally on all-important matters and also act on behalf of the House.
The Finance and Staff Committee is responsible for the Finance and staff matters of the House, including the preparation of annual estimates, control of expenditure and control of staff.
The Research Committee shall undertake a progressive study and conduct of research into customary laws, and traditions of the various ethnic groups in the country in respect of
- Enstoolment/Enlistment of chiefs (Traditional Rulers)
- Abdication of Chiefs; stool/skin properties, customary taboos, oath
- Traditional marriage law, succession and inheritance and any other subjects into traditional norms and usages
Stool/Skin Land Committee shall study matters affecting stool/skin lands and advice the National House of Government Legislative proposal affecting traditional stools/skins lands.
The Public Relations Committee collects and studies views from the Government, individuals, the general public and publications, on pronouncements on chieftaincy maters and advises the House about the suitable reaction to such publications.
The Judicial Committee: The National House of Chiefs appoints from among its members Judicial Committees each of which consists of five (5) members to exercise appellate jurisdiction in all chieftaincy matters which have been determined by the House of Chiefs in a Region. A Judicial Committee so appointed shall be assisted by a counsel who shall be a lawyer of not less than seven (7) years standing. Such a lawyer is recommended by the House through the Attorney-General.
Allowances for the Members: Attendance allowance shall be paid to the Members. The President is paid entertainment allowance. An impress is kept by the Registrar (a civil servant) for the discharge of the day-to-day functions of the President.
Funds of the House: The National House of Chiefs shall have such funds for the discharge of its functions as Parliament from time to time provide and which shall be charged on the Consolidated Funds of the Government. The House shall in each year submit for the approval of Government estimates of revenue and expenditure in respect of the succeeding year.
Staff of Houses of Chiefs: The National House of Chiefs, and each Regional House of Chiefs shall have a Registrar to that House as well as such other staff as the President acting on the advice of the Public Services Commission (in recent days the Head of Civil Service) may determine.
The Registrar of the National House and Registrar of each Regional House of Chiefs shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the House concerned and shall have control over the other members of staff of that House.
A “chief” is a person who has been nominated, elected or appointed and installed as such in accordance with customary law and usage of that traditional area or community.
For the purpose of the Act, Chieftaincy Act 1971 (Act 370) a chief must have his name for the time being appearing as a chief on the National Registrar of Chiefs.
The following are the categories of chiefs:
The Asantehene and Paramount Chiefs
- Divisional Chiefs
- Sub-Divisional Chiefs
- “Adikrofo” (chiefs of towns and villages)
- Such other chiefs not falling within any of the preceding categories
- as are recognised by the Regional House of Chiefs of that area
The National House of Chiefs maintains a register known as the Register of Chiefs in which all these categories of chiefs are entered periodically. The National House shall have appellate jurisdiction in any cause or matter affecting chieftaincy which has been determined by the Regional House of Chiefs.
10 Regional Houses of Chiefs: There is established in and for each Region of Ghana, a Regional House of Chiefs.
Each Regional House of Chiefs consists of such members as may, by law determine, (may be specified in relation thereto by legislative instrument).
The President of each Regional House is the Head of that House (except in the case of Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, the President is the Asantehene. In the case of other Regional Houses of Chiefs, a chief is elected (to be President) in a manner specified by an instrument.
There is also a Vice President for each House elected (with the President), to hold office for three years.
A President other than the President of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs and a Vice President shall hold office for three years and shall be eligible for re-election. No person shall be eligible for election as President for more than two terms in succession.
The authority of a Regional House of Chiefs shall apply within its Region. The original and appellate jurisdictions shall be exercised by a judicial Committee of the Regional House by a lawyer of not less than nine years standing.
Each Regional House of Chiefs shall have in relation to its Region the functions conferred on it by Article 155 of the Constitution (of Ghana) and also such other functions as are conferred on it by the Chieftaincy Act. 1971 (Act 370) or as may be conferred on it from time to time by any other enactment.
Each Regional House of Chiefs shall meet for the despatch of its business at such place and time as that House may determine but shall meet not less than twice in any year.
Traditional Councils: There shall be a Traditional Council for each traditional area, or, in the case of the Kumasi traditional area, the Asantehene shall be the President of the Traditional Council.
The name of every Traditional Council shall be shown in the National Register of Chiefs. Except in the case of a joint Council, the Paramount Chief shall be the President of the Council. Traditional Council shall consist, in addition to the President, of the persons (Divisional and sub-divisional chiefs and other categories of chiefs) shown in the National Register of Chiefs as the members thereof.
Divisional Councils: A division is any area which is specified in the National Register of Chiefs as a division. Where a Division falls within a traditional area, the Traditional Council concerned may create in respect of that division a Divisional Council which shall comprise such members as that Traditional Council may determine.
There shall be a President of a Divisional Council who hall be such person as may be determined by the Traditional Council concerned, or (in the case of a Council created under subsection (2) of section (19) be determined by the Regional House of Chiefs concerned.
The National House of Chiefs shall have appellate jurisdiction in any matter relating to chieftaincy. Any person aggrieved by any judgement or order of a Regional House of Chiefs in the exercise of its original or appellate jurisdiction may appeal to the National House of Chiefs as of right, against such judgement or order.
The Appellate jurisdiction conferred on the National House of Chiefs shall be exercised by a judicial committee of that House comprising five persons. Each Regional House of Chiefs shall have the following original and appellate jurisdiction:
- Original jurisdiction in all matters relating to a Paramount Stool;
- Appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine subject to the provisions of clause (3) of article 105 of the Constitution appeals from the highest Traditional Authority within which they are established, in respect of the nomination, election,. Appointment, installation or deposition of any person as a chief.
In the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred upon it by Section 15 of Chieftaincy Act 1971 (Act 370) a Traditional Council shall, subject to the provision of this section conduct its proceedings according to customary law, but for the purpose of compelling the attendance of parties and witnesses and the production of documents, a Traditional Council shall have the like powers as are possessed by a District Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction.
The said jurisdiction shall be exercised by a judicial committee of the Traditional Council comprising three or five persons appointed by that Council. No person shall be deemed to be entitled by the Chieftaincy Act 1971 to institute proceedings for the destoolment of a Chief unless he is entitled to do so under customary law.
Stool property consists of the following:
- the stool(s) itself and all the insignia of the stool
- such other moveable property and land
- any other property moveable or immoveable acquired as stool
- property after the installation of the chief.
- The information provided here is extracted from Chieftaincy Act 1971 (Act 370).
For further elaboration, the reader must consult the original Act 370 available for purchase.
- Other notes on the structure were culled from National House of Chiefs Standing Orders (1991).
Customary Law: The National House of Chiefs shall, subject to Clause (2) of Article 126 of the Constitution, undertake the progressive study, interpretation and codification of customary law with a view to evolving, in appropriate cases, a unified system of rules of customary law.
A Regional House of Chiefs may either after receiving representations from a Traditional Council or on its own initiative, and shall if so requested in writing by the National House of Chiefs, draft a Statement of alterations it thinks desirable in any customary law rule in force in its region or any part thereof. Subject to the provisions in the Act 370 the National House of Chiefs, a Regional House of Chiefs and a Traditional Council shall each have such funds for the discharge of its functions as Parliament from time to time provide.
All expenses incurred by the National House of Chiefs or a Regional House of Chiefs in respect of the exercise of its judicial functions are charged on the Consolidated Fund.