After seven years of legal tussle over the ownership of the Aprotech Housing Units near Adentan, an Accra High Court has finally declared the government as the rightful owner of the of the housing units.
The court further ordered the State Housing Company (SHC) and the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to take charge of the Aprotech Housing scheme, a facility acquired by the Rawlings administration in the 1980s for affordable housing units.
Dr. Kofi Sam, a former Minister of Works and Housing and two others dragged the SHC to court on August 17, 2009, seeking the following reliefs:- a declaration that the housing units constituting Aprotech Estates belong to them, an order of ejectment of the occupants of the land, recovery of possession, damage for trespass, damage for defendants’ interference with the project, a perpetual injunction against the defendants and costs.
Giving judgement, Justice John Ajet-Nasam said the land on which the houses were situated belonged to the SHC.
“I am of the considered opinion that, for now, State Housing Company(SHC) should regularise their occupancy as same has been done. The State Housing Company (SHC) should, as a matter of urgency engage the Ministry of Water Resources,Works and Housing with respect to the properties on their land for the appropriate laws be put in place as to who should take over the Aprotech Housing Scheme,” he said.
“I declare ownership of the land on which the housing units are on for the State Housing Company. The defendants have made a lot of developments on the properties they reside though some being squatters. It will be a sin against conscience, equity, fairness and justice if I order their eviction. That is the reason!”
Justice Ajet-Nasam said the plaintiffs could not explain to the court how they possessed the land in dispute neither did they prove how they funded the project.
“The plaintiffs are of the argument that, it was financed by them. However, no evidence was provided to the court to confirm that. Dr. Kofi Sam was also not called to testify. He is alive and one cannot understand why the brainchild of the scheme, who is also alive and a plaintiff never one day attended court,” he said.
“The plaintiffs did not deserve any compensation because Dr. Kofi and others were employed by the government and, therefore, benefitted from the scheme. He benefitted from the scheme. What other compensation does he need? The board members of the Aprotech Housing Scheme Limited, none came to testify. There was no document exhibited of the said limited liability. As said earlier, the interest of the land is not vested in the plaintiffs but in the SHC. They have the head lease from the Government of Ghana. The plaintiffs, to me, from the evidence adduced before me have no right under any statute to be protected. The evidence, which comprised oral evidence and exhibits tendered by the plaintiffs do not find favour with me under the laws of Ghana for any protection”, he said.
He said if by any stretch of imagination, the plaintiffs needed any compensation, the best option was to dialogue with the SHC and the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing.
“The best way out is that the plaintiffs if they think they are entitled to any compensation at all, should be a dialogue with State Housing Company and the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing. This is because there is no evidence on record of who funded the project and from which source.
Justice Ajet-Nasam said it was not clear which ministry funded the project, adding that the Attorney-General would have served a useful source of information if it was added to the suit as an interested party.
He said the plaintiffs could not lay absolute claim to the housing units for Aprotech Housing Scheme Limited because, they Aprotech Housing Scheme was not a limited liability company.
By Malik Sullemana