A unilateral decision by a Committee of the Ghana Armed Forces to amend a will of the late Air Commodore Emmanuel Kofi Obeng of the Ghana Air Force has drawn the ire of the courts, with a ruling that the Armed Forces go back to effect the will of the deceased senior Air Force Officer.
The standard practice in most military institutions the world over is that when an officer joins the service, he is required to nominate his next of kin by a system known as Nomination Paper DFA 400, in the case of Ghana.
Interestingly, as if the Ghana Armed Forces have a running battle with the widow, it had refused to pay the widow her widow’s allowance in line with military regulations even before the case went to court after three years.
According to a ruling in the possession of DAYBREAK dated 10th April, 2018 in the name of Justice Kweku T. Ackaah-Boafo, Air Commodore Emmanuel Kofi Obeng died on August 10, 2015, having nominated his wife, his two daughters and his brother as beneficiaries of his estate.
Strangely, after the funeral rites, some other faces showed up making extraneous claims other than that which was expressed in the FDA 400.
These strange faces were given hearing by a Committee of Adjustment, which decided to stay the FDA 400 and act their own, regardless of the document signed by the Air Commodore, resulting in court case in which the Ghana Armed Forces got a bloody nose.
The plaintiffs in the case include the widow, Matilda Obeng and Emefa Yaa Egbenya-Obeng.
After storming the court, they sought a declaration that the Ghana Armed Forces is not entitled to vary or adjust the Nomination Paper of the deceased and again the Ghana Armed Forces’ variation of the nomination paper of the deceased is arbitrary, unlawful, null and void.
Additionally, they sought an order directed at the Ghana Armed Forces to disburse the benefits of the deceased in strict compliance with the expressed wishes of the deceased in his Nomination Paper.
The Ghana Armed Forces had in its defence stated that after the Committee of Adjustment met, it made some 18 findings, some of which included a report that the deceased, apart from those cited in the Nomination Form, had two biological children with two different women.
Additionally, the Committee found out that the two mothers of the two additional children were, however, unmarried by the deceased.
Making his ruling, the judge cited a case by the respected Supreme Court Judge Dotse, saying “this case is classic example of how a small issue can be glossed over by an over zealous litigant and thereby introduce diversionary and irrelevant matters into the main body of the case. This is because the Defendants adopted unnecessary diversionary tactics to gloss over the main issues brought before the Court; which is whether or not the variation of the DF Form 400 was legal. I note that the motions filed included an application for the exhumation of the deceased for DNA testing which was moved on November 6, 2017 at the time when all the witnesses had testified and the initial application for dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the Court lacks jurisdiction and other motions”.
Concluding, the judge said “I should make it clear that based on my finding that the Ghana Armed Forces’ decision to vary the nomination form of the deceased was wrongful, I do not think that I have to repeat it all over again that the plaintiffs have proved to the satisfaction of the Court on the balance of probabilities their claim and are therefore entitled to ALL THE RELIEFS endorsed on the writ of summons”.