Railways Workers Clash With Group From Asem Stool

erAn attempt to collect ground rent from traders occupying a plot of land under litigation between the Ghana Railways Company Limited (GRCL) and the Asem Royal Stool, has resulted in a clash between some staff of the company and a group from the Asem Stool.

In the ensuring confrontation, two staff of the GRCL were severely beaten, while two from the Asem Stool were arrested.

Those arrested were Kwabena Babangida and Mohammed, believed to be among the group sent from the palace.

Police Inspector Kwasi Ennin, Railway Police Station Officer, confirmed the arrest but would not give details, saying the case was being investigated.

Speaking to The Ghanaian Times, Mr. Ernest Ahene, Area Manager of the GRCL, said on Monday some of the staff went round to collect fees from traders occupying the railway lands as had been the norm, pending the ruling of the land case at the High Court.

He said that followed a ruling by an Appeals Court for stay of execution of the judgment delivered by a High Court over the railway lands in Kumasi, in favour of the Asem Stool lands.

It is recalled that a three-member panel, Justices Amadu Tanko, Irene Danquah and Dr. E.K. Ayebi, Chairman, on October 27, this year, granted a motion filed by the GRCL for stay of execution of the judgment by the High Court.

According to Mr. Ahene, based on the ruling by the Appeals Court which meant that the judgment given by the High Court was not enforceable until the substantive appeal case was determined, “we went round to collect the ground rent.”

He said the GRCL wrote a letter on October 31, to the police for assistance to collect the rent because there was prior information that some people from the Asem Palace were preparing to attack the revenue collectors, but the police could not detail men to provide security for exercise.

He said “by the Appeals Court ruling, nothing restrains us from collecting the ground rent because the status quo has been restored until the determination of the appeal” and did not understand why the Asem Stool should attack them.

When Baffour Antwi Fosuhene, Kyidom-hene of the Asem Stool, was contacted, he denied that the palace sent a group of people to attack the GRCL staff.

He said they heard that about 20 GRCL staff were going round collecting GH¢70 from the traders, claiming the court had ruled in their favour.

In view of this, he said three people, Yaa Konadu, Mohammed and Akwasi Babangida, were detailed to verify the truth, but the GRCL staff attacked them with pinch bars and beat them up, adding that they would pursue the case to the letter.

It is recalled that on March 18, 2014, the Kumasi High Court, presided over by Justice K. B. Apenkwa, ruled that the lands being occupied by the GRCL in Kumasi belonged to the Asem Stool.

The judge concluded that “from the unchallenged evidence before me and from the analysis made in respect of the land, I conclude this judgment and say that the land in the subject matter of the instant action, remained a stool land even before the coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution and, therefore, the plaintiff (Asem Stool) has the right to its use as a stool land”.

He said “any purported alienation of a portion of this land to third parties by the fifth defendant(GRCL), is therefore, null and void and is of no legal effect, once the fifth defendant has no title in the land that it can transfer to these other parties”.

The High Court on June 16, 2014 further quashed an application for stay of execution of the judgment which compelled the GRCL to appeal in the case.

Earlier, the counsel for the Asem Stool, Hans Kwadwo Kodua, had argued that the GRCL did not have the authority in law to have granted the lands to private developers for commercial purposes, noting that GRCL had granted a 50 year lease to Despite Company and 30 year lease to another private developer.

According to the lawyer “by their own action, the company does not need anymore the lands for the purpose they were acquired. By their own conduct, the railway business is finished”.

He pointed out that in 1903, the lands were vested in the then governor by Act 145 of 1962, but the lands were not compulsorily acquired, neither were they appropriated. Rather, they were vested in the Governor in trust for the Golden Stool and that the Act 145 was repealed and Act 123 of 1962 vested the said lands in the Golden Stool.

The Asem Stool took the case to court realising that the GRCL had been selling the lands to prospective developers, and for almost one year and six months, the case had been pending until March 18, when the case was ruled in its favour.

From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi

 

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