crown and wig

Ghana: Nana Agyeman Badu II, the controversial chief with tough skin

By Jonas Nyabor

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Posted on August 15, 2023 14:16

 © Dormaa traditional area paramount chief Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II. (photo supplied)
Dormaa traditional area paramount chief Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II. (photo supplied)

Ghana paramount chief Oseadeeyo Agyeman has stirred controversy by advocating for the dismissal of perjury charges against an opposition MP, prompting calls for his removal.

Ghana’s Dormaa traditional area paramount chief Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II is in hot water for saying perjury charges should be dropped against opposition MP James Quayson.

“As a matter of urgency, I [as Dormaahene, or chief] am appealing to the President of the Republic [Nana Akufo-Addo], if he has any role to play, that the trial should be aborted, and the Attorney-General should as a matter of urgency file a nolle prosequi to abort the criminal case against Quayson,” the chief said at a public lecture in July.

Two hats

The comment sparked an active campaign by members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to have him removed from the judicial service over the comment, which they deem unethical.

Known in private life as Daniel Mensah, the 57-year-old is a man of two hats – a traditional ruler in Ghana’s Bono Region and a High Court judge.

One of Ghana’s most renowned lawyers, Sam Okudzeto, says Mensah’s comments warrant his removal. “It is senseless for a sitting High Court judge to make utterances of that nature,” Okudzeto said on Accra-based Joy FM last month.

“If I were [to be] sitting in that Disciplinary Committee on the Judicial Council, I would have asked him to resign or asked that he be sacked as a judge,” he added.

The minister for parliamentary affairs Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the comment may limit Agyeman Badu II’s chances of being appointed to the Supreme Court. But Agyeman Badu II remains unshaken, a chieftain close to him tells The Africa Report.

But the opposition NDC has taken a strong position on the chief’s side.

“The NDC hereby calls on the Judicial Council to reconsider its apparent persecution of the Dormaahene. We wish to caution, that should the Judicial Council proceed to harass and victimise the Dormaahene, the NDC will collaborate with other progressive forces and defenders of democracy to embark on a series of public manifestations to protest this creeping culture of judicial tyranny,” it said in a statement.

Sources within the judiciary were tight-lipped on details of any impending action against the traditional ruler and judge.

Thick skin

From his turf war with the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to his condemnation of gays, the Dormaahene’s stir of controversy has won him significant public support as well as harsh condemnation.

In January, his decision to install a new chief at Bomaa, an area claimed by Asantehene as his territory, led to the death of one person.

While some sub-chiefs and residents in the area insist that they owe allegiance to the Asantehene, the Dormaahene said the area falls under the Dormaa paramountcy and blames the “distortion of history” for what he believes is the overstepping of boundaries by the Asantehene.

“He [Asantehene] has stepped beyond his territory and I won’t forgive if you step beyond your territory and enter into mine,” Nana Agyemang Badu II said last year after a similar clash at Esumeja in 2022.

Asantehene Otumfuo did not take kindly to the challenge and sent a warning, too.

“Anybody trying to raise his or her shoulders must be careful, not under my watch. If you claim you are a man, I am also a man… I want to remind those who have probably forgotten history and speaking out of ignorance, we haven’t forced anyone to serve us, and it is even an honour to serve the Golden Stool,” said Asantehene Otumfuo, referring to the royal and divine throne of kings.

Against gay rights

Among queer Ghanaians, the Dormaahene is loathed.

He has not hidden his strong anti-LGBTQ stance. When he was captured in a viral video two years ago threatening a protest if gay rights are upheld in Ghana, Nana Agyeman Badu II’s popularity instantly shot up in Ghana’s largely conservative society.

“I’ve said this before, if not for President Akufo-Addo, I’d have suggested that we give gays the opportunity to get married and provide a baby in a year. But if they do not give birth, I will kill you,” he said in his home region last April.

“If the president, the vice, or any leader in Ghana says he accepts LGBT, even though the laws of Ghana bars chiefs from engaging in active politics, I, Agyemang Badu II, will do politics and organise people to where you are and remove you from your seat,” he added.


Mensah was appointed to the High Court in 2010 after serving as a lawyer in private practice.

He was at the centre of the bail application by #FixTheCountry leader and activist Oliver Barker-Vormawor after his arrest in February 2022 and also presided over the suit by the owner of UniBank, Kwabena Duffour, to reclaim the bank.

“At some point, I was nearly moved to tears. I watched him cut short his vacation so that he will give a hearing to an old lady who was crying that if her case was adjourned as intended, she may not live to see that day,” recounted Barker-Vormawor who described the chief as one who discharges his duty with grace and empathy after sitting through one of the judge’s sessions.

People’s man

“Many people love him here because he is down to earth yet very firm. He’ll not condone wrong but he treats everyone with respect. Personally, one of the things I like about Nana is how he gets involved in our communal labour and youth activities,” resident Kwesi Agyemang-Badu told The Africa Report.

Agyeman Badu II celebrates 24 years since his enstoolment as a paramount chief this year and is credited for helping his region.

“There are many controversies, but we respect him a lot for the many developments he has brought here. The regular clean-up exercises, scholarship for brilliant but needy students and support for schools and hospitals is very good,” Grace Cheremeh, a teacher in the Sunyani West district, told The Africa Report.

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