Jennifer Anne Myers Ahmed, the judge hearing a land case involving the Veterans Administration Ghana (VAG) and Dream Reality, a private company , at Accra High Court Land Division- Land court 3, for the second time, couldn’t give judgement, and has postponed it to March 21, 2023.
Management of VAG, led by the Executive Director, Capt BE Duah (Rtd), some veterans and their legal team, stormed the court ahead of 9 am, the scheduled time for the delivery of the judgement on the juicy parcel of land situated near Opebea, formerly known as “Legion Village”.
Litigation over the land, has traversed several administrations, including that of JJ Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufour, John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama but the ex-soldiers, have remained resolute to keep their grip over it to infinity and beyond. They intend using it for buildings that will yield revenue for them through rentals and use the proceeds for their medical needs.
However, amongst the evidence produced in court to knock off the ex-servicemen’s interest from the land, is a bizarre letter authored by the Executive Secretary to President Nana Akufo-Addo, Nana Bediatuo Asante, dated August 19, 2020, in which the latter argues VAG’s re-entry into the land because it had assigned its present and future interest in the land to Annor and Associates, which has since vested its interest to Dream Reality, a Lebanese company owned by one Karim Ibrahim.
In court yesterday, the judge announced that she wasn’t ready with the judgement and accordingly postponed it to March 21. Meanwhile, the lawyer for the plaintiff wasn’t in court, though his client was present.
The veterans were disappointed at the postponement and held a strong view that some unseen forces were frustrating the judge from coming out with the truth in favour of them.
They have threatened to hit the streets and round it up with a press conference to tell the world of the injustice meted out to them.
“We are struggling to buy our medications without refunds from government and now officials of the government have connived with business men to take our land, which the Administration could develop to take care of us”. It will be a playback of the 28 February, 1948 episode.
The Legion Village, was given to Dr Samuel Yaw Annor, onetime boss of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) who is said to have taken over the land on a PPP scheme. He took the military high command and VAG management to the site to cut sod for his intended project.
He later partitioned the land into two, sold half to a Lebanese man and kept the other half in the name of a company in which he and his wife had shares.
The Lebanese owners of Dreams Reality, had earlier approached the executive director of VAG, Capt Ben Duah Rtd, with a letter purportedly signed by former National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col Gbevlo-Lartey under the NDC, authorising him to enter the land, but Capt Duah, told him that Lt. Col Gbevlo-Lartey, wasn’t the executive director of VAG, and neither was he a court. The Lebanese, thus went to court.
The history of the land is that the La Stool donated it to the military/VAG in 1950 for the re-settlement of destitute WWII veterans.
In 2006, during the Kufuor era, Dr Annor, approached VAG to develop the land on a PPP basis. This led to the relocation of the veterans to the Amasaman Legion Village.
The claim against Dr Annor, was that although he was to pay some hard cash to VAG and put up five penthouses for VAG, none of these was done.
In 2008, Dr Annor, partitioned the land into two and sold half to the Lebanese on the blind side of VAG.
Two years later, 2010, Dr Annor, having come under intense pressure from VAG for delaying the project, took the military high command and VAG management to the site to cut the sod to signify commencement of the project. But nothing happened until interest from the Lebanese started to show.
The current VAG management, painstakingly pieced relevant documents together, revealing the sale of the partitioning of the land and its sale by Dr Annor.
The current Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, tried to meet with Dr Annor and the Lebanese on the issue, but Dr Annor never responded.
It was during this time that Nana Asante Bediatuo wrote to VAG, saying the land belongs to the Lebanese. VAG observed attempts to alter ownership of the land at the Lands Commission.
Judgement was to be given on February 17, but postponed to March 16, 2023 and has again been fixed for March 21.
In July last year, the former CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS) and Annor & Associates, had admitted in court that he indeed sold the VAG land, located at the Airport Commercial Area to the private developer to recoup his losses.
According to him, the sale of the land was due to a breach of agreement on the part of VAG, which refused to give a vacant position to Annor & Associates by a stipulated period, in a contract reached between both sides.
He added that VAG (1st defendant), which has been sued alongside Annor & Associates Limited (2nd defendant) and two others – Dr Samuel Yaw Annor (3rd Defendant) by Dream Reality Limited (plaintiff), breached the agreement at a time most of the Directors of the 2nd and 3rd defendants were domiciled in South Africa.
Dr Annor, further told the court that the directors had made arrangements for funding and also engaged the services of architects, engineers, and project managers, who would have helped to design the shopping complex for which the land was given to them.
He argued that, since VAG failed to give them a vacant position of the land, the engineers, architects, and financiers, who were engaged gave up, with the view that the project might not materialise.
He, however, confessed under cross-examination by counsel for VAG, Roberts Ekor Dessah, at the Land Division of the Accra High Court, on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 that the sale of the land was equally a break of the contractual agreement.
When asked to mention the names of the directors he had earlier referred to, the defendant cited himself, his wife Barbara Annor and one Nathany Annor, who was living partially in Ghana and South Africa.
He told the court that he did not conform to the provisions of the agreement before the sale of the land, due to certain circumstances.
Mr Dessah, counsel for VAG suggested to him, Dr Annor, that at the time he sold a portion of the land meant for the construction of penthouses, and a shopping mall for the benefit of the ex-servicemen and women to the plaintiff, he (Dr Annor) continued to attend meetings with VAG in respect of their original contractual agreement.
But Dr Annor denied the assertion and explained that records of minutes before the court, which are in reference to meetings held between him and VAG from 2010 to 2012, were in relation to VAG taking possession of the land and in doing so, mounted a big signboard that the land belongs to the military so everyone should keep off.
The defense counsel again told him that those meetings produced an addendum that has been captured under a supplementary agreement, and Dr Annor was one of the major contributors to its contents.
He (counsel) again told him (Annor) that decisions reached in the supplementary agreement made it explicit that there should be a sod-cutting ceremony by the end of July 2010, although the initial agreement dated back to 2006.
Unfortunately, Mr Dessah continued, soon after that sod-cutting ceremony on July 28, 2010, Annor & Associates represented by Dr Annor, once again sold the rest of the land to Independent Properties (4th defendant), which he is the majority shareholder and his wife is the director, on August 20, 2010.
But Dr Annor responded that the land was sold to Independent Properties in response to a consequence of the series of meetings that were held, and in fact, the said company was present at the sod-cutting ceremony, saying “so, it is not as if VAG and the Ministry of Defence didn’t have any idea at all that the 2nd defendant sold the land.”
The defense counsel then asked, “Can you provide evidence of meetings that were held to sell this land or any approval from VAG to sell the land?”
Dr Annor answered in the negative that “not at this point, but I can show in due time that before the transfer of the land, VAG was aware of the transfer by the Land Commission.”
Dr Annor clarified to the court that he is not the majority shareholder of the 4th defendant but a shareholder and could not give the full name and address of the secretary of Independent Property, whom he said was lawyer Kwame.
But the defence Counsel suggested to him (defendant Annor) that if Dr Annor and his wife have something to do with Independent Properties, it cannot be true that the company is an innocent purchaser of value without the knowledge of VAG as an interested party in the land.
According to VAG counsel, Dr Annor acted unfairly to all parties in the transaction, but the latter denied the claim and stressed that VAG, Annor & Associates, and the 3rd defendant were all aware that they have changed the agreement from a shopping mall by Annor and Associates to the development of a hotel complex by Independent Properties.
Dr Annor maintained that the provision of the five penthouses for the VAG was going to be built on top of the hotel complex.
Annor & Associates was also accused of breaching the 2nd leg of the agreement by failing to pay an amount of US$134,558.40 into VAG Trust account with the Stanbic Bank, but the defendant again claimed that was not the case, since the 2nd defendant has sought on some occasions to get a statement from Stanbic Bank to know exactly how much it has paid into the Trust, but that effort never materialized.