Supreme Court orders Lands Commission to file case

The Supreme Court has given the Lands Commission seven days to file its statement of case.

This order which was issued by Mr Justice Nene Amegatcher last Thursday, was in connection with a writ filed by an Accra-based businessman, Mr Jonathan Holm, against the Attorney-General and the commission over the piece of land designated by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the construction of the National Cathedral in the national capital, Accra.

According to the plaintiff, the action of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces constituted a violation of the fundamental rights of the people of Osu, in the Greater Accra Region, to be denied the first option to re-acquire the land under Article 20 (b) of the constitution if the National Cathedral “is constructed on the land compulsorily acquired under the Certificate of Title dated 29th November, 1910, for residential purposes for public officers”.

To this end, Mr Holm, is asking the apex court for perpetual injunction to restrain the president of the Republic and the executive from appropriating the land under reference for use to construct a national cathedral in violation of Article 20 (5) and (6) of the constitution and in breach of the trust expressly created by Section 3 of the Public Lands  Ordinance, 1876, (Cap 134) and Article 257 (1) of the 1992 Constitution in respect of lands compulsorily acquired for stated public purposes.

“An order confirming that the original public purpose for which the land was compulsorily acquired by virtue of the certificate of title dated 29th November, 1910, is still valid.

“A declaration that the amendment to Section 5 of the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) by Section 4 of the State Lands (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act 586) which authorised the Lands Commission to grant “leases” and “licences” did not repeal Regulation No.9 of the State Lands Regulations, 1962, L.I. 230 and did not authorise the Lands Commission to grant “leases” and “licences” of public lands acquired for stated public purposes to private persons, private bodies and private institutions for their private benefit and that L.I. 230 of 1962 is still valid,” the defendant stated.

The order to the Lands Commission by Mr Justice Amegatcher was at the instance of the counsel for commission who applied to the court for extension of time to enable him to put on their defence since the issue bordered on constitutional interpretation.

Mr Bright Akwetey, an Accra-based private legal practitioner and counsel for the plaintiff, Mr Holm, however, asked the court to award cost against the Lands Commission (defendant) but the single judge did not accede to his request: No cost was awarded.

By Castro Zangina-Tong

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