The Sowah Din Family of Nmai Dzorn near Accra has accused Lt Gen Arnold Quainoo, a former General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces, of using state apparatus to harass people who have legally acquired lands from the family.
The Chief Linguist of Nmai Dzor, Nii Joseph Akueteh Quaye, said since 2004, Lt Gen Quainoo had been using armed police and military officers to intimidate and sometimes arrest people who were occupying the land.
Speaking at a press conference at the site of the land under controversy, Nii Quaye said Lt Gen Quainoo had been harassing the people in spite of a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 debarring him from the land.
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In a quick rebuttal, Lt Gen Quainoo flatly denied ever using any national security apparatus to harass anybody, explaining, “I have stayed there for over 25 years during which time I had all the powers to do anything and is it now that I will be using armed security personnel to intimidate and harass people?”
He said a total of 28.42 acres of the controversial land was given to him by the Ashalley Botwe family for a 50-year lease upon the authorisation of the Supreme Court, and accused Amarquaye and all those on the said land “for stealing his land and selling it”.
Lt Gen Quainoo warned the Sowah Din family, Mr Amarquaye and all other aggrieved people that they risked being arrested for claiming to have documents on the land, “because I am holding the genuine papers.”
Giving the background to the land, Nii Quaye explained that the land was formerly used by Lt Gen Arnold Quainoo as a farm under a 21-year lease, which he said had expired long ago so the land had reverted to the family.
An investor, Mr Joseph Amarquaye, who jointly owned a 10-plot out of the land in question, said before they acquired the land, he went to the Lands Commission and was told the land was free before he acquired it.
“So, we went ahead and purchased the land, fenced it and decided to go into real estate business. But in 2004, we started having problems with Lt Gen. Quainoo, who goes round harassing people doing legitimate business,” he alleged.
December Court ruling
He said in December last year, Lt Gen. Quainoo took the Sowah Din family to the Accra High Court for a stay of execution and for the writ of possession to be set aside.
A copy of the ruling by the court, presided over by Justice Ernest Obimpe, on December 17, 2013 and made available to the Daily Graphic read in part that, “I must state again that the judgement of 2000 is against the applicant’s grantors, their agents, assigns and all persons claiming through therein. In consideration, the application is refused.”
Mr Amarquaye said surprisingly, at about 2 a.m. on December 26, 2013, “I had a call that there were armed police and military men with earth-moving machines. I came around and saw them. They demolished our wall and all our footing and sped off. We were able to take some of their numbers.”
A human rights lawyer and solicitor of Mr Amarquaye and his team, Ms Mary Ohenewaa Afful, described the action of Lt Gen. Quainoo as “contempt of court” and said her clients were still assessing the extent of damage and would head to court to claim special and general damage.
Lt Gen Quainoo reacts
However, Lt Gen Quainoo challenged anyone whose property had been demolished by any armed security officer to report those officers to the appropriate quarters and denied knowledge of any demolition exercise.
He rather accused Mr Amarquaye of engineering the demolition of part of his house where his driver stayed and denied “ever being on police enquiry bail as was claimed by Mr Amarquaye and his colleagues.”
Land Title Registration
Referring to the Land Tittle Registration 1986, Law 151, Madam Afful said Lt Gen Quainoo “does not have a final judgement to this land and an indenture…He cannot throw dust in the eyes of the public .”
Laws of the land
Ms Afful called on the hierarchy of both the military and police to call their officers to order and stop them from being used by Lt Gen Quainoo to achieve his personal goal.
Madam Afful insisted that the demolition of the building on the land was a show of “arrogance and disrespect for the laws of Ghana.”