The government has halted the development of infrastructure on the 0.523-acre land in dispute between the Bulgarian Embassy in Ghana and some private individuals, according to a communique issued by Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor.
The decision was arrived at after an inquiry by Mr. Justice Kwasi Anto Ofori-Atta found out that the land which was being developed was acquired fraudulently.
According to Mr. Abu Jinapor who is Lands and Natural Resources Minister, one Mr. Jojo Hagan who took over as the executor of the Will of the original lessee obtained judgement for the eviction of the Bulgarians and “caused the demolition of the property without following due process.”
Meanwhile, there are three court cases involving ownership of the land pending before the High Court, Accra with suit numbers G1/10088/2021, PA1335/2017 and GJ/0503/2022.
The Bulgarian Embassy, per the findings of the sole inquirer, was entitled to the piece of land in question for a period of 50 years. This was due to an agreement the embassy had signed with the original lessee, Mr. Theophilus Kofi Leighton.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs examining the agreement between the two parties, concluded that the sublease was actually 54 years because Mr. Leighton had earlier leased it to the Embassy for four years. Thus, the Ministry declared the agreement null and void.
“Bulgaria’s Land Title Certificate No. GA 6454 was eventually cancelled. However, records from the Public and Vested Lands Management Division still indicates that there is a subsisting interest in favour of the Bulgarian Embassy.
“In the meantime, Mr. Leighton had assigned the unexpired term of his leasehold interest in the property to Mr. Joseph Ernest Kwabena Ansah…”
Later, the Ministry reversed its decision based on the advice of the Attorney General and wrote to Mr. Leighton about the reversal.
Mr. Leighton fought for the cancelation of the land title certificate for the Embassy the second time while he also fought for the cancellation of the title certificate for Mr. Ansah on grounds that the latter had not paid the full consideration for the assignment.
“It was found out that Mr. Leighton had acted fraudulently by getting the Land Registration Division of the Lands Commission to cancel the Bulgarians interest by attaching the Judgment dated 24th September, 2002 against Mr. Ansah to the particulars of the Bulgarian Embassy for cancellation.”
It was along the line Mr. Jojo Hagan took over as the executor of the Will of Mr. Leighton and pursued the case at the court and obtained judgement to evict the occupants whom he described as “trespassers” and an order to “demolish the property which he described as unfit for human habitation”.
“After the demolition, Mr. Jojo Hagan went ahead and assigned the disputed plot of land (0.523 acre) for the unexpired residue of Mr. Leighton lease to Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah on 11th December, 2018. Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah (the Assignee) subsequently registered the Assignment at the Lands Commission and obtained planning and development permits; reference No. C795/20 for the proposed development.”
Based on the findings, the inquirer therefore recommended the sanctioning of Mr. Jojo Hagan for not following due process in the eviction of the alleged trespassers and demolition of the building and should be made to compensate the Bulgarian Embassy.
“Since the title to the land has not been determined by the Courts, it is advised that Government should intervene in finding an amicable solution to this matter.”
The Ministry has therefore taken steps to ensure that consent granted and registration of the interest of Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah are withdrawn, and further development of the land is halted pending the outcome of the court cases.