The two topmost awards for Ghana’s prestigious music award scheme, the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, have been annulled as part of sanctions against two feuding dancehall artistes whose scuffle marred the 20th awards night last Saturday.
“The two top honours of the night, i.e. Most Popular Song of the Year and Artiste of the Year, have for the 20th Edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards been annulled,” a member of the VGMA board, Amandzeba Nat Brew announced at a news conference Thursday.
Up for the Artiste of the Year Award which was deferred together with the Most Popular Song of the Year were King Promise, Kuami Eugene Joe Mettle, Sarkodie and the feuding dancehall artiste, Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy.
Consequently, the late Ebony Reigns, who won the Artiste of the Year in 2018 posthumously, will hold the prestigious title for another year,the board added.
The claim by Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy for dancehall supremacy in the country has festered on for years creating enmity between the two artistes and their followers.
The rivalry between the two hit the roof in the wee hours of Sunday causing Stonebwoy to pull out a handgun on stage.
Stonebwoy who had just been declared winner of the 2019 Reggae and Dancehall Artiste of the Year, was on stage to receive his award when Shatta Wale and his multitude of fans decided to mount the stage with him in what some perceived to be in a confrontational manner leading to the scuffle.
But for the intervention of the security at the auditorium who managed to quell the tension and bring the situation under control, the scuffle could have turned bloody.
Organisers were forced to defer the two topmost awards which both Shatta and Stonebwoy were contenders. The move was to avert possible degeneration of the scuffle in the event of one of them emerges the winner.
At a news conference to announce decisions reached by the board regarding the incident, Mr. Nat Brew said conduct of the musicians “brought the name of the event into disrepute”.
As a result, both musicians have been banned indefinitely from participating in all aspects of the country’s foremost music award scheme.
Per the decision, they have become ineligible for VGMAs nominations, selections and performances.
Again, they have been stripped of all awards they won at the night. While Stonebwoy was adjudged Best Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year and Best Collaboration Song of the Year (Kpo Keke), Shatta won the Best Highlife Song of the Year and Best Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year with Gringo.
Stonebwoy and Shatta have consequently been ordered to immediately return to the organisers of the awards, Charterhouse Ghana Limited, the plaques they received for the two awards each of them won on the night.
Both Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale were invited by the police for questioning on Sunday and have since been charged and put before court.
Meanwhile, a magistrate in Accra on Wednesday set their bail condition at a total of 100,000 cedis after prosecutors brought charges against them over the near-bloody scuffle.
Their lawyers had argued for a self-recognisance bail on grounds that the two accused persons were known figures in the music industry and would avail themselves for the trial.
Though prosecutors did not oppose the request for bail, they asked the court to let the two artistes to sign a bond to be of good behaviour.
But the magistrate, Isaac Addo, rejected the request of self-recognisance bail, and set their bail condition at 50,000 cedis each with one surety.
Both stars are charged with issuing threats and using abusive words with the intent to disturb public peace, with Stonebwoy facing count of displaying weapon in public place without permission. The gun is an Australian gun INFK 158 with butt number AA792002017.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The magistrate asked the accused persons to be of good behaviour in the course of the trial and warned them against any acts that could impede the case.
They are expected in court again on June 20.
Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana