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Regional News of Saturday, 19 April 2014

Source: Graphic Online

‘Complete land deals to avoid judgement debts’

The Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, Wednesday advised state bodies taking over private lands for development to completely seal any payment deals with those affected to avoid situations where, many years later, different claimants would emerge asking for compensation.

According to him, such claimants went to court and always succeeded in getting default judgements against the state because whenever they went to court, there was no representation for the state.

Mr Justice Apau lamented that contrary to the law, which states that affected persons had six months from the publication of a takeover to make claims and that after the six months no other person could make a claim, there were a good number of cases before the commission in which persons had gone to court years after a takeover and still managed to get judgements in their favour.

Due to this, he said, the national kitty had developed leakages through which money was thrown out as judgement debts paid to alleged claimants.

He, therefore, urged state bodies to take current actions that would not lead to anyone going to court to illegally secure judgement in the future.

Koforidua Polytechnic Rector

Mr Justice Apau said this when the Rector of the Koforidua Polytechnic, Professor Reynolds Okai, appeared before the commission regarding the payment of compensation to affected persons in relation to the 78-acre land the school occupies.

Prof. Okai told the commission that in 2001, the government, through the Eastern Regional Co-ordinating Council, set up a site acquisition committee to work on the modalities to acquire the land and that in 2010 the Land Valuation Division wrote to the school that out of a number of claimants, the list had been scaled down to five.

Out of the five, he said, two had been paid compensation totalling GH¢293,000, while compensation for the rest was still being processed.

He said so far the school had successfully fenced the entire property and that there were no encroachers, save one woman who maintained that she would not move from the place until her compensation had been paid, adding that recently she informed the school authorities that they could not pull down her mud house on the land.

Dual personality?

He named one of those who had been paid compensation as Madam Akua Odeibea, whose money was collected by Comfort Aboagye who had deposed in an affidavit that she, Madam Akua Odeibea, was the same as Comfort Aboagye.

That drew the attention of the sole commissioner, who wondered how the two persons could be the same when they had presented different dates of birth. It was that which drew his comments for state bodies to ensure they had sealed off all deals to forestall future judgement debts.

Right thing

But Prof. Okai said the rest of the land was vested in the New Juaben Municipal and the Akwapim North District assemblies and that the Koforidua Polytechnic had formally written to those assemblies to exclude the polytechnic from paying compensation.

But Mr Justice Apau countered that, saying assemblies did not own land and, therefore, it would be prudent for the school to deal with the individuals or families behind the land to ensure that no descendants of those concerned would raise any issue against the state.

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