There is simmering tension in James Town in Accra following an Accra High Court decision to restrain the Paramount Chief of James Town, Nii Kojo Ababio V, and his subjects, from further selling stool lands without the consent of the principal members of Traditional Council.
The court, presided over by Justice Anthony J. Oppong, took the decision following a plea by five principal members of James Town to grant them an interlocutory injunction to restrain their chiefs, agents, workmen and representatives from “alienating or disposing of lands of James Town Stool.”
The principal members (plaintiffs) were Nii Kwei Kuma IV, Nii Sackey Akumia VI, Nii Ade Nkpa VII, Nii Odarlai Bruce and Nuumo Borda III.
They had told the court that the defendant, (Nii Kojo Ababio V,) in his capacity as occupant of James Town Stool has been alienating and otherwise disposing of the stool property without their consent.
But the embattled chief, known in private life as Ezekiel Quarmina Allotey Coffie, had through his lawyer, Adjei Lartey, denied the claims by the five principal members.
However, the court in its ruling dated November 12, 2014 reasoned with the plaintiffs and granted their wish.
“In the circumstances, on the balance of hardship if this application is refused and it turns out that the defendant unilaterally has been in fact alienating James Town Stool, plaintiffs will suffer extreme hardship.
“…on the other hand, if the application is granted and it is established that defendant after all has not been alienating or selling James Town Stool lands, he (the respondent) stands to suffer nothing. This view coupled with the hallowed customary principle of law that an occupant of a stool cannot dispose or alienate stool property without the consent and concurrence of the principal elders gravitate towards looking at this application with favour. In the circumstances, the application is granted as prayed,” Justice Anthony J. Oppong noted in his ruling.
The court action embarked upon by the principal members of the area, according to one Nii Armah, spokesperson for the youth of the area, was provoked by the pleas of the youth who had threatened to go on rampage if the dissipating of the traditional council’s resources by the chief were not immediately brought to a halt.
He said the area has since the 35-year reign of their paramount chief, seen little development, arguing that the situation was impacting negatively on their standard of living.
What was evident to see in the area, he alleged, was the fuelling of clan clashes, duplication of office of the traditional council among a host of others.
He claimed the youth were also not happy about the council of elders supporting the activities of the 94-year-old chief.
“He has put around him people that he can manipulate and cannot say a word when he does something wrong. Those around him do not have the capacity and are not eligible to be where they are,” noted Nii Armah.
What was more worrying, he said, was the arrogation of power of attorney by the chief to his son-in-law to rule the area. And such an act, according to him, was illegal in its entirety.
He added that it was heartbreaking that the proceeds from the sale of stool lands along the beaches in the area had ended up in individual pockets to the detriment of the community.
He continued that 42 acres of land situated at Dunkona around the West Hills Shopping Mall belonging to the stool has also been sold with no trace of the revenue generated from the sale of the property.
He noted further that the youth were alarmed that the abandoned Plaza Cinema which belonged to the community had been sold to a private financial entity without the knowledge of the people in the community.
“This cinema could have been re-developed into a community centre to generate revenue to develop the area,” Nii Armah lamented.
He bemoaned the situation where royals of traditional councils are denied the right of being buried at the Royal Cemetery in the area by the paramount chief, preferring instead, his cohorts.
Earlier, Nii Armah in an interview with Today asserted that several pleas to the paramount chief to protect the interest of the community have fallen on deaf ears, leaving them with no choice than to turn to the principal members of the James Town Stool for redress.
Meanwhile, the Principal Members of Jamestown have warned that anybody who has acquired a land around the West Hills Shopping Mall which belongs to the James Town Stool should stop developing it and contact the rightful owners first before any development.
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