By Alfred Adams, Sekondi
Her Ladyship, Mrs. Justice Georgina T. Wood - Chief Justice of Ghana
AN ATTEMPT by six traditional chiefs from the Ahanta Traditional Area to stop a multi-million dollar plantation project embarked upon by the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL) on Ahanta land has failed as a Sekondi High Court has struck out an interlocutory injunction filed against the company.
The Court, presided over by Justice Charles Agbevor, took the decision on the grounds that the motion for injunction sought by the Ahanta Chiefs lacked merit and, therefore, awarded a cost of GH¢1,000.00 in favor of GREL.
The attempts by the chiefs to forestall the multi-million dollar plantation project comes barely a month after another Sekondi Court lifted an interlocutory injunction sought by the Queenmother of Nawuley and three others against the commissioning of a multi-billion dollar limestone project, embarked upon by Ghana Cement Works (GHACEM) at Jomoro.
The plaintiffs in the case, led by Nana Aduku, Chief of Nsuaem and five others, were seeking to restrain GREL on grounds that the acquisition of all tracts of land commencing from Agona Ahanta to Nsuaem, Egyambra to Awukyire, being properties of plaintiffs were not adequately compensated for.
Additionally, plaintiffs noted that the compulsory acquisition of disputed lands acquired by GREL (defendant) was manifestly fraudulent. It was in this respect that plaintiffs through their legal counsel requested the court to set aside defendant's present title on the disputed tracts of land on grounds of fraud perpetrated against the plaintiffs.
Furthermore, counsel for the plaintiffs requested the court for an order directed at the defendant to pay heavy punitive general damages against the defendant for fraudulent acquisition and an order for reasonable portions of the acquired tracks of land to be reverted to the plaintiffs stool to accommodate the expansion of their communities.
Providing their particulars of fraud allegedly perpetrated by GREL, counsel for the plaintiffs pointed out that the defendant knew that stool lands could not be lawfully acquired unless adequate compensation has been paid to owners of the land, stressing that GREL had failed to meet the requirement.
It was the view of the plaintiffs that the land, being stool lands, should have reverted to the land owners by way of first option, when the state had divested itself from the land, adding that the refusal of the defendants in paying adequate compensation and also giving back the unused portions of the said stool lands have caused grave embarrassment, poverty and severe hardship, as well as constant struggle over inadequate lands on Ahanta land.
However, Counsel for the defendant, Mr. Derick Gwira, of Gwira Legal Consult opposed the application argued by counsel for the plaintiffs on the grounds that the acquisition of the land in question showed that adequate compensation was paid to all stools whose lands were acquired.
According to Mr. Gwira, it was incorrect for counsel for the plaintiffs to claim that no compensation or inadequate compensation was paid to the affected stools.
Additionally, counsel for the defendant asserted that it was wrong for counsel for the plaintiffs to suggest that the land in question was fraudulently acquired by GREL, noting that his client had not committed any fraud, or could it give back to plaintiffs what it had legally acquired under the a lease agreement with the Government of Ghana.
Mr. Gwira pointed out that the plaintiffs should have known that since their lands had been acquired by the state and compensation paid, such lands ceased to be their properties and the state which acquired it was free to turn it over to any party interested in developing them.