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Regional News of Friday, 31 October 2014

Source: GNA

Sole Commissioner worried by false claims

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Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt has stated that most of the site plans and maps submitted by Volta Basin claimants to the Lands Commission for compensation from the state did not have merit. Mr. Justice Yaw Apau said evidence available to the Commission showed that those maps were drawn in 2003 and 2004, whereas these areas got inundated in 1965 following the construction of the Akosombo Dam.

“Some of the maps have no date. How could they have surveyed and mapped out these areas which are now under water,” Mr. Justice Apau said at the Commission’s sitting in Accra, during which the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission Dr. Wilfred Kwabena Anim-Odamey appeared to testify.

Cabinet, in July 2008, approved a consolidated amount of compensation totaling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso,Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas and about 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.

The Sole Commissioner questioned Dr. Anim-Odamey whether he was aware that Kojo Abban and Co-presented a map for Makango in the Northern Region, but the map was showing flooded areas in the Volta Region around the Peki area.

Dr. Anim-Odamey said as at the time of approval of the payment for the compensations, he was not in office as the Executive Secretary, he however, explained that it could be due to an oversight on the part of the staff of the Lands Commission.

He said the evaluation report on the Commission’s work on the Volta Basin Flooded Areas was damaging to it (Lands Commission) both locally and internationally, however Mr. Justice Apau assured him that the Commission was not relying on the evaluation report alone, that was why they were inviting the Lands Commission’s officials and the beneficiaries to enable them come out with a very fair report on the situation.

Also at the Commission's sitting in the matter of Victoria Addy and others versus the Attorney General (AG) and Sabat Motors were Mrs. Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, Chief State Attorney at the AG's Department and Mr. Kweku Yiamoah Pentsil, a legal practitioner and former Counsel for Victoria Addy and co.

Mrs. Afriyie-Ansah recounted that default judgment was entered on January 27, 2007, but notice to set aside the default judgement was brought up by the AG’s Department on July 30, 2007.

She said the last time the case was called was on December 17, 2007, but the petitioners and the counsel failed to turn-up and sitting was adjourned to 2008.

Mr. Pentsil said the matter at hand was the property of the late husband of his client and her children; that was then being used by RT Briscoe, which was confiscated by the state, adding that the state was pursuing RT Briscoe and not the premises in which they were operating.

He said the Divestiture Implementation Committee later sold the property out to Sabat Motors, hence the legal action by the family to reclaim their property.

He said although he and his former client had parted company, he was at the Commission to set the record straight since he was involved in the legal process.

He explained that his former client was bereaved, and therefore, could not make it to the Commission.

Mr. Pentsil said although the 2007 default judgement was set aside, his former clients had received their property back, but as to how they got it he (Pentsil) could not tell.

At this point, Mr. Justice Apau produced a letter dated September 18, 2014, from the solicitor of Victoria Addy and others threatening to take legal action against Sabat Motors if they do not vacate the premises.

To this Mr. Pentsil replied that he was not in the known, and that the new counsel should have come to him adding he was elated to appear before the Commission, and suggested to the Commission to recommend to the AG’s Department to seek an out of court settlement, once they are aware that the state would loss a civil suit.

He said this would help prevent the case from dragging on in court for years with the interest going up, which would result in huge judgment debt against the state.

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