After many years of dedicated service to his country, as one of the respected soldiers in his time, Lieutenant General Arnold Quainoo, one-time head of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), is presently having sleepless nights having been put under serge by a group of landguards, led by a Togolese National, by name Joseph Armaquaye, operating under the guise of an investor.
“Today, the Okpelor Sowah Din family, their grantees and agents including their workmen and land guards have wrecked havoc on my farm which took me over 25 years to develop. With impunity and in an uncompromising manner, they have knocked down my security fence wall and gate, completely bulldozed the specially selected trees I have planted for medicinal, environmental, historical, educational, economic, and aesthetic purposes in my arboretum.
Over 30 beehives, vegetable garden and underground electric cables have all been destroyed. My dam which provided fish and water for farming, building, domestic and other purposes has been completely filled with sand and the land sold out”, Lt. Gen. Quainoo, poured out.
The one-time General Officer Commanding the GAF nicknamed, “Buffalo Soldier” stated that “it is important for all interested parties to note that I have employed all legal means to safeguard my land and have not done anything illegal to warrant the disdain that the New Statesman newspaper seeks to draw me into”.
The sad story of Lt. Gen. Quainoo, which has gained media attention in recent times, reveals the lack of coordination, between the law courts and the law enforcement agencies, how some judges, especially High Court Judges, are at the beck and call of the deep pockets individuals, who easily manipulate them into given questionable judgments, putting the poor and venerable into a state of perpetual suffering.
Secondly, Lt. Gen. Quainoo’s also reveals how some individuals are above the laws of this country to an extent that judicial orders from even the highest court of the land – the Supreme Court – can be flouted with impunity.
Thirdly, the story further reveals the menace of multiple sales of land by so-called landlords, the incident of gun-wielding “landguards” in the country, and how easily they are recruited to terrorize genuine and innocent land buyers with the state security apparatus especially the police looking on haplessly.
In a press release issued in Accra, yesterday in reaction to a publication in the Tuesday, January 7, 2014 edition of The New Statesman newspaper titled: “High Court Throws Out General Quainoo……Over 82- Acre Land”, the retired Army General took time to dispel the wrong impression the publication sought to create in the minds of readers and also set the records straight on the land case.
“The story states that I am not the “rightful owner of an 82.97 acre parcel of land that Demeter Farms occupies at Nmai Dzorn” near East Legon and that I have no capacity to prevent the rightful owners, the Okpelor Sowah Din family of Teshie from taking over the land . I would like to correct the wrong impression this publication seeks to create in the minds of the reading public”.
“In the first place, I would like to state categorically that “I did not acquire or own an 82.97 acres of parcel of land at Nmai Dzorn” as the newspaper seeks to convey to the public. I acquired an 28.42 acres of land in June 1988 and it is rather unfortunate that the newspaper could decide to change the figure from 28.42 acres to 82.97 acres”.
“The facts of the case are that I went to Ashalley Botwe in the 1970s in search of land for farming. I found a suitable land and my search at the Lands Commission revealed that the said land was plotted in favour of an Ashalley Botwe family vide an instrument dated 30th April 1976, and stamped at the Land Valuation Board as No AC4345/76 . The said land was subsequently plotted at the Lands Commission as No 761/77.
I approached the Ashalley Botwe family headed by Numo Ebenezer Nikoi Kotei (deceased) and acquired 28.42 acres of the said land for farming purposes for 50 years renewable for another 25 years. Title of the land was conveyed to me through an instrument dated 18 June 1988 made in the name of Demeter Farms.
The instrument was stamped at Land Valuation Board as LVB 655/89 and subsequently plotted at the Lands Commission as No AR2506/88 on 8th March 1989. I have been in possession of the land since then as Executive Director of Demeter Farms and the bonafide owner of Demeter Farm lands. I did not, REPEAT did not “forcibly or invade any land with soldiers under the pretext of establishing Ghana Armed Forces Farms” as the newspaper would want the public to believe”.
According to Lt. Gen. Quainoo, “in 1993, a family from Nmai Dzorn instituted a suit No L297/93 against the Ashalley Botwe family (My grantors) for, among others, a declaration of title to 1,793 acres of land of which my Demeter Farm lands form part. The case went to the High Court through to the Supreme Court. At the High Court, in 1993, the decision was that the Nmai Dzorn family was the rightful owners of the land in litigation. The Court further decided that the conveyances made by the Ashalley Botwe family should be surrendered for cancellation”.
“When the matter came before the Supreme Court however in 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court but overturned the High Court order that called for the cancellation and annulment of the grants made by the Ashalley Botwe family (My grantors). The Supreme Court order dated 5 May 2004, varied the order of the High Court that called on grantees of Ashalley Botwe family to submit their documents for cancellation and annulment.
The Supreme Court specifically ordered thus:
“I HEREBY CERTIFY that an order was made as follows: The appeal is allowed. Save the variation of the order that grantees of the respondents submit their documents of title for cancellation and annulment. The judgment of the High Court is hereby confirmed.”
But “in spite of the Supreme Court Judgment and order, the Nmai Dzorn family has over time been selling my Demeter Farm lands illegally even though they knew of the decision by the Supreme Court that I was the rightful owner of the Demeter Farms”.
“Surprisingly in 2011, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling a suit No FAL /124/12 was filed against me at the High Court by Nii Okpelor Sowah Ablorh on behalf of the Okpelor Sowah Din family for declaration of title and recovery of possession. They also applied for Interlocutory injunction against me which was refused as they failed to disclose to the Court the ruling made by the Supreme Court which preserved my right to Demeter Farm lands. The High Court presided over by His Lordship Justice Mills-Graves had among others stated in its ruling:
“Surely I do not see the Applicants interest and proprietary rights in their land as extending to cover the land, granted to the grantees, of the Ashalley Botwe family as per the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Republic Vs. LAND Commission Ex- Parte Vanderpuje Orgle Estate Limited (1998 – 1999) SC GLR p. 677……..” He further stated:
“From the pleadings and affidavit evidence so far filed before this court, I do not see any right of the Applicant in law or equity in this matter that needs to be protected or warrant the grant of an application for interim injunction in his favour and against the Defendant as being prayed for the plaintiff.
I shall hereby refuse the Plaintiff’s application and dismiss same as unmeritorious.” Thus Justice Mills-Graves Court dismissed the Okpelor Sowah Ablorh’s application as “unmeritorious” and awarded costs in favour of Demeter Farms.
“I was, therefore, amazed that the family thereafter filed an ex- parte motion at another High Court presided over by His lordship Justice Ernest Obimpeh seeking recovery of possession of these same lands. Surprisingly, in what would appear as a comedy of errors, Justice Ernest Obimpeh supposedly granted the plaintiff , Okpelor Jacob Ablorh Mensah ,leave to “recover possession of the said land” without spelling out the
limitations imposed by the Supreme Court in its ruling”, Lt. Gen. Quainoo said.
The Okpelor Jacob Ablorh Mensah, their cohorts, and landguards have sought to rely on this judgment by Justice Obimpeh’s Court as overriding the Supreme Court ruling that clearly excludes Demeter Farm lands from Nmai Dzorn lands.
It is rather indicative and interesting to figure out why the Okpelor Sowah Din’s family rushed to another High Court presided over by Justice Obimpeh, and filed an ex-parte motion to obtain a writ of possession only three days after their application for Interlocutory Injunction was dismissed by a High Court presided over by Justice Mills-Graves which specifically ruled that the family had no interest in Demeter Farm lands.
The judgment by Justice Mills-Graves was given on Friday, 3rd June 2013, and on Monday, 6th June 2013, the family rushed to the Justice Ernest Obimpeh’s Court to apply ex parte for and obtained their writ of possession . If this is not travesty of Justice then I don’t know what it is.
“Today, the Okpelor Sowah Din family, their grantees and agents including their workmen and land guards have wrecked havoc on my farm which took me over 25 years to develop. With impunity and in an uncompromising manner, they have knocked down my security fence wall and gate, completely bulldozed the specially selected trees I have planted for medicinal, environmental, historical, educational, economic, and aesthetic purposes in my arboretum. Over 30 beehives, vegetable garden and underground electric cables have all been destroyed. My dam which provided fish and water for farming, building, domestic and other purposes has been completely filled with sand and the land sold out”.
“The illegal grantees of the Okpelor Sowah Din family have started constructing buildings on my farm land, working day and night, and in the process are destroying all my farm structures and resources with impunity”.
“Finally, let me state that I made a counter claim against the Okpelor Sowah Din family in the suit No FAL/124/12 supra which is outstanding. It is quite clear to me that it was these proceedings that were cunningly side stepped by the Okpelor Sowah Din family when they went behind the Justice Mills-Graves High Court judgment to seek an ex parte relief in the High Court of Justice Ernest Obimpeh”.
“It is important for all interested parties to note that I have employed all legal means to safeguard my land and have not done anything illegal to warrant the disdain that the New Statesman newspaper seeks to draw me into.
“I have issued a public notice warning all Trespassers on Demeter Farm lands to note that they stand the risk of losing their investments if they use force and impunity instead of the law, to take possession of land that by law is the property of Demeter Farms”.
Meanwhile, there appears to be confusion within the Okpelor Sowah Din Family of Nmai Dzor with two individuals laying claim to the headship of the family.
Nii Okpelor Sowah Ablorh, said to be Nmai-Dzorn Mantse, has mentioned one Madam Kai Okpelor Sowah Din as the head of the family and one Jacob Ablor Mensah, also holding himself as the head of the family, claiming the elders of La Agbawe made him head of the family.
Nmai-Dzorn Mantse, who was quoted in the yesterday’s edition of The Punch newspaper, confirmed Joseph Armaquaye’s, nationality as Togolese and accused him of teaming up, with some elements of the Okpelor Sowah Din Family to be terrorizing people, including Lt. General Quainoo, and charged the law enforcement agencies to act.
Joseph Armaquaye, on Monday, addressed a news conference with a certain Mary Ohenewaa Afful and Chief Linguist of Nmai Dzor, Nii Joseph Akueteh Quaye, claiming he purchased the land in question from the Okpelor Sowah Din family after his search at the Lands Commission showed that the land belonging to Lt. Gen. Quainoo, had not been registered in his name.