After 21 years of unsuccessful pleas, the family of a Lebanese business tycoon, Wassef Sadallah Dakmak, has resorted to the due process to recover its residential property at No 16 North Ridge Residential Area in Accra which it claims is being occupied illegally by the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM).
Fady Fatal Dakmak, son and lawful attorney of Wassef Sadallah Dakmak, has filed a suit against the DWM at an Accra High Court seeking, among other reliefs, an order for the immediate recovery of the property from the defendant.
The plaintiff, whose suit was filed on his behalf by Dery and Co, an Accra-based legal firm, on Monday, is also seeking a declaration that the occupation by the DWM of the said property since 1986 was wrongful.
It is, therefore, seeking an order for the immediate recovery of the property from the defendant, as well as the payment of revenue by way of rent which would have accrued to the plaintiff if he had rented out the property to a third party from the date of the unlawful occupation by the defendant up to the date of final judgement.
The plaintiff is further claiming an interest on any sum assessed to be due him at the prevailing bank rate or as the court may deem fit from the date of occupation of the property by the defendant to the date of final payment.
“In the past I used to beg or ask for my house but now I'm demanding my house and I'm demanding its immediate evacuation,” a distraught Fady told the Daily Graphic after the suit had been filed.
“I want it before the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence and that's my right. I've been waiting for far too long,” he added, and further declared his intention to take the matter up at the international level if he did not succeed in Ghana.
According to Fady, he had done everything possible, including lying on the ground to beg the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who is also the President of the DWM, and several petitions to the regimes of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for the recovery of the property but all to no avail.
In a statement of claim, the plaintiff said his father acquired the said property from Jonathan Kojo Chinebrah by way of assignment which was evidenced by an instrument dated January 9, 1978.
It said in 1986, some persons unknown to the plaintiff and purportedly acting for and on behalf of the PNDC took over the property on the powers of a decree known as the Transfer of Shares and Other Proprietary Interests (Dakmak Group of Companies) Decree, 1979 (AFRCD 6).
That action, the statement said, was contrary to the provisions of AFRCD 6 which ordered the confiscation of the property of the Dakmak Group of Companies and not that of its directors.
It further indicated that although AFRCD 6 did not or even purport to confiscate the plaintiff's property, the PNDC, in or about January 5, 1993, promulgated the Confiscated Assets (Removal of Doubt) Law, 1993 (PNDCL 325) in which it was enacted that the plaintiff's aforesaid property, which was never confiscated under the decree, remained confiscated to the state.
The statement said nothing good came out of several petitions made by the plaintiff, including some to the NDC administration which succeeded the PNDC, demanding the release of the property.
It said by virtue of a letter dated September 24, 1997, written from the Office of the President in the NDC administration, it was ordered that some of the property belonging to the Dakmak Group of Companies and all the plaintiff's property “not originally included in the schedule” to AFRCD 6 be released with effect from July 25, 1997.
The statement said by that directive, the property of the plaintiff which was illegally taken over, including some of those which were confiscated by virtue of AFRCD 6, ought to have been released to the plaintiff and the Dakmak Group of Companies.
Nonetheless, it pointed out, the defendant, “at all times material to this suit, has still remained in occupation and/or possession of plaintiff's property and has refused to yield vacant possession of same to plaintiff”.
The statement claimed that in a letter dated June 18, 2001, written by Messrs Vanderpuye Law Consult for and on behalf of the defendant to the plaintiff, the defendant acknowledged the plaintiff's ownership of the property and expressed its desire “to negotiate the rental” of the property from the plaintiff but it had not made any effort or taken any step to redeem that desire.
Furthermore, it said, as a follow-up to the letter dated September 24, 1997, another letter, dated January 29, 2003, was written by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to the defendant instructing it to quit and yield vacant possession of the property to the plaintiff but the defendant refused to do so.
The statement said the defendant had also refused to heed two separate letters written by the plaintiff's solicitors dated October 27, 2004, and December 28, 2004, respectively for and on behalf of the plaintiff to the defendant demanding that the latter quit and yield vacant possession of the property to the plaintiff.
“Plaintiff avers that by defendant's conduct, it does not intend to yield vacant possession of the premises to plaintiff unless this honourable court intervenes,” it added.
Story by Kofi Yeboah