LAKPLEKU, A village opposite the shooting range of the Bundase Training Camp on the Tema-Aflao highway in the Ningo-Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region was thrown into a state of confusion on Saturday February 14, 2015, after serving and retiring soldiers watched in awe as houses they have struggled to put up were razed to the ground.
At least 16 houses were pulled down when bulldozers descended on the site. The situation has made the affected soldiers stranded, especially when their pension entitlements and other emoluments were invested in these projects. Cost of damage is estimated to be around GHc 650,000 (6.5 billion cedis) representing structures, the layout and pillars. Incidentally, this has come at a time when those who retired have to vacate the barracks accommodation that was offered them by the Government to serve the State.
The soldiers, The Chronicle gathered, grew wild to the extent that one of them reportedly attempted to behead one Amamu, alleged to be the commander of a group of men said to be land-guards for a company, Gran Hill Ltd.
The claim of Amamu being head of the land-guards was, however, debunked by a director of the company, Felix Annan, who stated that the said Amamu is his director of operations. Amamu, when reached at the site laughed over the assertion and said no soldier, retired or active, can cut off his head and went further to explain how he acquired the name ‘Amamu’.
According to him, sometime ago, he single-handedly assaulted a Police officer by the name Amamu Kakra, who was then a terror at Odorkor, hence he inherited the name ‘Amamu’, but denied being a land-guard. Every effort made by The Chronicle for Felix Annan, who claimed to have employed Amamu as his operations director to give his real name failed.
Investigations revealed that three companies, Succoth Ltd, Bliss World Ltd and Sampalot Ltd, all involved in real estate development, contacted the military high command at Burma Camp and solicited support for soldiers to patronize their business in land sales to organizations and groups. Subsequently the Ghana Armed Forces published in its “Part One” – an internal information channel, for all soldiers interested to submit their names, which the Pay Office followed suit, with monthly deductions.
A number of soldiers and civilian employees bought plots of land from these three companies and majority of them were given their respective indentures in July 2009, after which they started developing the lands. However, along the line, litigation ensued in the Lakpleku family of Old Ningo as to who is the head of family and has the right to append signature on the indenture after selling of the lands.
The case was being contested in the law courts, with SK Lakpleku as plaintiff versus Tetteh Agbenyeke, Gran Hill Ltd and Kwabena Lakpleku as defendants.
On the 6th of June 2014, the Tema Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCOP, Beatrice Z. Vib-Sanziri signed a letter to the Land Title Registry, Accra, entitled VERIFICATION OF LAND CERTIFICATES AND INDENTURE.
It reads: “The Tema Regional Police Command is investigating a case involving a parcel of land situated at Lakpleku, Old Ningo. “In the course of investigations, the two claimants, Gran Hill Company Ltd and Empyrean Development Ghana Ltd have each brought land certificates to buttress their claim, whilst Asafoatse Oketakyi Blebo V of Osabunya family of Old Ningo challenged their documents with two indentures.
“It would be appreciated if as a matter of urgency, you examine the copies of the land certificates and indentures as to its authenticity and validity to enable police decide on the next line of action to take.’’
Then on the 25th of June, 2014, the Land Registration Division of Land Commission in a letter signed by Irene Kafui Doe, Assistant Land Registrar for the Regional Head stated that: “Reference to your letter dated 6th June, 2014, with reference number TRHQ/81/48/7”, The Land Certificate number TD 4985 has been issued to Gran Hill Company over a land situated at Lakpleku Dawa. The office also affirmed that the Land Certificate submitted for examination is original.
On the 2nd of December, 2014, Justice Eric Baah, of the High Court Land Division in a ruling said on the 28th of October, 2014, Gran Hill Ltd, per its counsel, filed a motion on notice, invoking the inherent jurisdiction of the Court for an order varying the order of interlocutory injunction made on the 7th of August, 2014.
It further stated that by law, all grants made by the respondent after the registration of the applicant’s title remains invalid, until after the respondent has won the case and has had the applicant’s title canceled until that, the applicant has the title and is entitled to the possession and use of land.
It is in rare circumstances that the court can use an equitable order (like injunction) to nullify or render useless, a legal right. Equity must follow the law and not vice versa.
The ruling further stated that the respondent claimed his family has made grants on the land, but no evidence was provided to prove same. No indenture or land certificate was annexed and in the face of the applicant’s certificate, the Lands Commission cannot properly register another concurrent interest on the same land.
Another High Court presided over by Justice P. Bright Mensah had earlier on August 7, 2014, restrained defendants Tetteh Agbenyeku, Gran Hill Ltd and Kwabena Larkpleku from further developing the land, the subject matter of this suit or having anything to do with it pending the final determination of the matter.
On the 6th of February, 2015, Justice H. Amaleboba (Mrs), who was presiding over the High Court Land Division struck out the application for an order of interlocutory injunction as withdrawn. Consequently, cost of five hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢500) was awarded in favor of each of the defendants against the plaintiff.
Counsel for plaintiff Andy Appiah Kubi was represented by Kwaku Boadu who has given the court an undertaking that plaintiff will not interfere with the property, the subject matter of the dispute and will abide by the law.
The Court further stated that those who took land in the face of the registered interest of the applicant did so at their own risk. A search at the Lands Title Registry would have revealed that the land is presently incumbent by the applicant’s interest.
“The court is of the view that allowing its order of 7th August 2014 to stay in the present forum has and will occasion harm and injury to the applicant which ought to be prevented. Otherwise, the laws that Parliament had striven to make for registration of lands would have been rendered useless.
The application in view of the Court, has merit and is granted as prayed and states that the Court Order of 7th August, 2014 is varied as follows;
1.In place of the order restraining the applicant from the subject land, the court Orders the applicant to pay into Court, the sum of one hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢100,000) as security for the eventual winner of the headship battle
2. Consequently, the applicant is restored to its possession of the land in accordance with its registered land certificate. On the 15th of December, 2014, Felix Annan made payment of one hundred thousand Ghana cedis into HFC Bank voucher number OLC14121500176 payment of security into Court.
Following that Amarkai Amarteifio of Amarteifio & Co. on11th January, 2015, wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police and stated that “we write on behalf of Gran Hill Ltd, owners of a parcel of land at Lakpleku, in the Ga-Dangme East District”.
It continued that our clients have been subjected to harassment and various acts of illegal interference with the possession of the land. “Our clients, the letter states, have followed due process of law and obtained judgment in respect of the land and also procured administrative confirmation of their right to the land from the lands commission and the Land Title Registry.
“Our clients have asked us to write to you to ensure the protection by the laws and of the police, as our clients embark on their lawful occasion on the land, to prevent any breaches of the law, especially the resort to violence”. Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Succoth Ltd, Mr. Samuel Gyebi has told The Chronicle they have identified persons behind the demolishing of the buildings on their property and that they were going to sue for damages.
The military high command, we gathered, is not the least happy with the current development especially when it was its platform that was used by the three (3) companies to sell the land to its personnel.
A highly placed source at the command intimated that, right from the onset, the military cautioned the developers against pushing the soldiers to a contentious area and now that the unexpected has happened, the burden lies on the estate developers to ensure that the men benefit fully without any hindrance for the payment.
Lawyer Appiah Kubi, counsel for Succoth Ltd, when contacted, stated that it is unfortunate that the structures on the land were demolished. According to him, he and his colleagues from the two other companies have gone back to court and appealed against the ruling of Justice Baah.
According to him since the substantive case is still pending and without recourse to the law, the buildings were destroyed, if his clients come out clean, the consequence, in respect of costs in damages, would be huge. He, however, regretted the embarrassment that was caused the soldiers. According to him, he is restraining them to allow the law to work, else a different story would be told.
Source: The Chronicle
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