5 July 2012

Ghana: Kumawu Drags Chiefs And Two Companies to Court Over Land

The people of Kumawu are feverishly taking steps to reclaim a vast portion of its land, of about 92,000 acres, purportedly sold out to two private plantation companies, namely African Plantation for Sustainable Development Ghana Limited, and the Afram Plantation Limited.

Citizens of the town, had per Opanin Osei Kofi and Opanin Yaw Barimah, sued four traditional rulers, Nana Pepra Kodua IV, Krontihene of Kumawu, Nana Serwa Amponsah, Kumawuhemaa, Agogo Stool through Nana Akuoko Sarpong, Agogohene and the Kwamang Stool, through Barima Ntori Abeyie Kumunipae, Kwamanghene, together with the two private plantations, occupying the disputed land.

According to the plaintiffs, in spite of the purported transfer of title, African Plantation for Sustainable Development -Ghana Limited, and the Afram Plantation Limited have trespassed on the land belonging to the people of Kumawu, to carry out survey inspection and other development activities on the land, and that the two companies are determined to complete their illegal transactions after billions of cedis have exchanged hands.

In a writ filed before the High Court, Land Division, the people of Kumawu are seeking a declaration of the court that the "area of land defined in the Abetifi Agreements of 1909 entered between the Colonial Administration in the Gold Coast Colony and the Chiefs of Kwahu, Kumawu and Agogo, and called the 'Kumawu Partial Reserve' is the exclusive property of Kumawu stool.

Plaintiffs are further requesting the court to declare the appropriate land boundary between Kumawu and Agogo as the legitimate property of the Kumawu stool. They are also seeking to recover possession of the said Kumawu stool lands, as well as damages for trespass, together with a restraining order against all the six defendants, their servant, agents and privies, from interfering in any manner with the possession and control of the Kumawu Stool lands.

According to the people of Kumawu, their traditional office holders have connived with the Stools of Agogo and Kwamang to unlawfully dispose of and lease large parcels of the Kumawu Stool lands to African Plantation for Sustainable Development Ghana Limited and the Afram Plantation Limited, which are limited liability companies incorporated under the laws of Ghana.

Plaintiffs are of the view that ownership of all the lands in Kumawu are exclusively vested in the Kumawu stool and that no traditional authority is a superior owner of the land, intimating that the disputed land has strategic significance for the people of Kumawu, since "the Samanfo had much labour in acquiring" the land

It is also the contention of the plaintiff that since the disputed land serves as a source and drainage area of the main rivers that join the Mid-Volta Northern part of the Akosombo Dam, its transfer to private and foreign occupation will seriously affect national asset like the Akosombo Dam.

Plaintiffs also argued that selling out the lands to private individuals will affect the acquired rights of the inhabitants, settler farmers and fishermen as stool lands will cease to be held in trust of the people by Paramount stools.

This, the people of Kumawu noted, would impoverish and collapse the stool, being the authority of traditional ruler, who holds the land in trust of the people.

They, therefore, denied the assertion that the three stools of Kumawu, Kwamang and Agogo held the Ataada Finam's conquered lands as their common property, noting "each of these stools in course of time appropriated a definite area to itself and settled thereon, which in essence is 'partition by conduct" as a result of which Kumawu became the allodia owner in possession of the disputed land.

To the plaintiffs, the Krontihene of Kumawu, Nana Pepra Kodua IV and Nana Serwaa Amponsah, Kumawuhemaa, deliberately ignored the "partition by conduct" agreement, and prepared to allow the Agogo Stool to freely and wrongfully lease out 597,312 acres of the disputed lands to African Plantation for Sustainable Development Ghana Limited huge consideration.

Plaintiffs also noted that the Agogo Stool purportedly agreed to lease out 338,044 acres of the disputed land to Afram Plantation Limited, an area that falls within the lands already leased out to Africa Plantation for Sustainable Development Ghana Limited by the Agogo stool.

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