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Regional News of Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Source: Today Newspaper

Bortianor Land: Court rules in favour of Alrotech

An Accra Fast Track High Court has declared estate developer, Alrotech Company Limited the legitimate owner of 13,959.68 acres of lands situated at Dunkona New Bortianor in the Ga South Municipality of the Greater Accra region.

Presiding Judge, His Lordship, Mr. Justice N.M.C. Abodakpi, consequently declared the Bortianor land as stool land belonging to the Nii Kwei Arku Stool, advising the kingmakers and elders of Bortianor Royal Stool at James Town in Accra to stop the habit of claiming the ownership of the said land.

The judge went on to stress that the land in contention does not belong to the indigenes of Bortianor anymore.

The ruling for now closes the chapter on the protracted land dispute which started in the Fast Track High Court in Accra in 2007 between the plaintiff, Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo, and the acting Bortianor Mantse, Nii Akotey, together with five others as defendants.

In early 2007, Head of family of Nii Kwei Arku and Custodian of Bortianor Lands, Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo, on behalf of the family, dragged Nii Akortey IV, Alrotech Limited Frank Buah, Agya Arzah Buah, Frank Consortium Limited and Fraaka Estate Limited to Fast Track High Court over the sale of the land.

His contention was that in 1978, by Statutory Declaration with registration No. 5/19/78, Nii Kwei Arku I, the then Bortianor Mantse, registered Bortianor Stool Lands under Statutory declaration Act 1971.

In his statement of claim filed, the plaintiff stated that Nii Akotey IV styled himself as the acting Mantse and Dzasetse of Bortianor and sold off the Bortianor family lands to Alrotech Company Limited and other individual organisations without the consent of Bortianor Royal Stool.

Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo averred that Nii Akotey IV also carved out the large portions of Bortianor Family land which he has been transferring without authority, based upon fraudulent documents he made and issued to the Alrotech Company Limited.

But, Justice Abodakpi in his judgment, declared the land as Bortianor Stool Land and not family land which can validly be alienated by the occupant of the stool together with his elders and councillors.

Mr. Justice Abodakpi noted in his ruling that on the aggregate of evidence adduced by Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo (plaintiff) and the acting Bortianor Mantse, Nii Akotey IV, and Alrotech Company Limited on the traditional history of Bortianor, especially the family ties that were disclosed, showed that they have all agreed that they are close relatives, with Nii Kwei Arku I, as their ancestor who had first settled on Bortianor land of the Ga State.

That being the case Bortianor, according to Mr. Justice Abodakpi, could be described as rural-James Town (Ngleshie) under the James Town Paramountcy in the Ga State.

“Again, the way the family line had been traced, Ofoli Soloh We and Solo We are the two major clans, and from these clans are many families that undisputedly trace their root to Nii Kwei Arku I in legal historical antecedent, Nii Kwei Arku as a lineage could be described as the maximal family, and the other families mentioned could be described as sub-lineages and division or immediate families," the judge said.

Given the facts of the case, Justice Abodakpi asserted that "the Nii Kwei Arku family is juristic person, a legal entity that could sue and be sued."

And in Nii Kwei Arku l, he said resided the dual capacity of head of family and the head of the Nii Kwei Arku Stool.

This, according to him, reflected in the statutory declaration with registration No.5/1978 which is at the root of all the long standing suit involving the lands at Bortianor township and its environs for determination, adding that Nii Akotey IV hold the title of Acting Bortianor Mantse and Dzaasetse of Bortianor Royal Stool dated 1995, saying that dual capacity being put in Nii Akotey IV has been found.

However, Mr. Justice Abodakpi stated that Bortianor land is not a stool land as defined and described by 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana as stated supra, due to mistake in the citation by the indigenes of the Bortianor land, Nii Kwei Arku family.

He went on to explain that Nii Kwei Arku I, had dual capacity encapsulated in one juristic person, namely the stool, adding therefore that neither, the stool nor family, as found in the suit of Bortianor land case should independently alienate Bortianor land.

He indicated that the issues on which the Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo (plaintiff) carries the burden of proof has been determined by the findings made on the issue of estoppel (long overdue) by conduct, the findings are against the Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo (plaintiff) that he has as a corollary failed to establish these issues stated above.

Justice Abodakpi clearly spelt out that Alrotech Company Limited was not set up by the acting Bortianor Mantse, Nii Akotey IV known in private life as Mr. William Erikson Mensah alone.

He explained that the company (Alrotech Company Limited) as a legal entity was lawfully incorporated as a distinct entity separate from Nii Akotey IV for this reason, and other findings made supra, Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo has failed to prove fraud in the management of the Alrotech Company Limited.

On these grounds Mr. Justice Abodakpi declared in his judgment that "Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo action is dismissed."

"In respect of Nii Akotey's counter-claim, I hold that he Nii Akotey IV entitled to the declaration that Bortianor land is vested in the Bortianor Stool," he said in his judgment.

Justice Abodakpi noted that Nii Akotey IV is also entitled to the declaration that the land granted by Nii Akotey IV as the acting Bortianor Mantse with the consent and concurrence of the principal elders of the Bortianor Stool to the Alrotech Company Limited, Frank Buah, Agya Arzah Buah, Frank Consortium and Fraaka Estate Limited are valid grants, stressing that Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo cannot validly transfer interest in Bortianor land.

Justice Abodakpi, had, on April 30, 2013, granted perpetual injunction to restrain the plaintiff, one Nii Ofoli Kwei Quarcoo, from interfering in any way with the land after awarding costs of GH¢50,000 in favour of the defendants, which included Alrotech Company Limited and the acting Bortianor Mantse, Nii Akotey IV.