Court restrains James Town Chief from selling stool lands


An Accra High Court has restrained the Paramount Chief of James Town, Nii Kojo Ababio V, and his agents from further selling stool lands without the consent of members of the Traditional Council.

The Court, presided over by Justice Anthony J. Oppong, took the decision following a plea by five Principal Members of James Town Traditional Council to grant them an Interlocutory Injection to restrain their chief, agents, workmen and representatives from “alienating or disposing of land of James Town Stool”.

The Principal Members (Plaintiffs) are Nii Kwei Kuma IV, Nii Sackey Akumia VI, Nii Ade Nkpa VII, Nii Odarlai Bruce and Nuumo Borda III.

They told the court that the defendant (Nii Kojo Ababio V) in his capacity as occupant of the Stool of James Town has been alienating and otherwise disposing of the stool property without reference to them.

But chief known in private life as Ezekiel Quarmina Allotey Coffie, had told the Court through his lawyer, Adjei Lartey, denied the claims put forth by the five Principal Members.

The Court, having listened to both parties, in its ruling dated November 12, 2014, reasoned with the Plaintiffs and granted their wish.

“In the circumstances, on the balance of hardship if this application is refused and it turns out that defendant unilaterally has been in fact alienating James Town Stool, Plaintiffs will suffer extreme hardship. On the other hand, if the application is granted and it is established that defendant after all has not been alienating or selling James Town Stool land, he (the Respondent) stands to suffer nothing. This view coupled with the hallowed customary principle of law that an occupant of a stool cannot dispose or alienate stool property without the consent and concurrence of the principal elders gravilate towards looking at this application with favour. In the circumstances, the application is granted as prayed”, Justice Anthony J. Oppong noted in his ruling.

The court action embarked upon by the Principal Members of the area, according to one Nii Armah, Spokesperson for the youth of the areas, was provoked by the pleas of the youth who had threatened to go on rampage if the dissipating of the Traditional Council’s resources by the Chief were not immediately brought to a halt.

He said the area has since the 35 year reign of their Paramount Chief, seen little development, arguing that the situation was impacting negatively on their standard of living.

What was evident to see in the area, he alleged, was the fuelling of clan clashes, duplication of office of the traditional council among a host of others.

He said the youth were also not happy about the council of elders surrounding the 94 year old chief.

“He has put around him people that he can manipulate and cannot say a word when he does something wrong. Those around him do not have the capacity and are not eligible to be where they are”, noted Nii Armah.

What was more worrying, he said, was the arrogation of power of attorney by the Chief to his son-in-law to govern the area. According to him, such an act was illegal in its entirety.

They said it was heartbreaking that proceeds from the sale of stool lands along the beaches in the area had ended up in individual pockets to the detriment of the community.

In addition to that, 42 acres of land situated at Dunkona around the West Hills Shopping Mall belonging to the stool has also been sold with no trace of the revenue generated from the sale of the property.

Further to that he said the youth were alarmed that the abandoned Plaza Cinema which belonged to the community has also been sold to a private financial entity without recourse to the interest of the locals.

“This cinema could have been redeveloped into a community center to generate revenue to develop the area”, Nii Armah lamented.

 He bemoaned the situation where royals of the traditional council have been denied the right of being buried at the royal cemetery in the area by the Paramount Chief, preferring instead, his cohorts.

Nii Armah told newsmen in Accra yesterday that several pleas to the Paramount Chief to have the area at heart in all his doings have fallen on deaf ears, leaving them with no option than to turn to the Principal Members of the James Town Stool for redress.

Meanwhile, the Principal Members of Jamestown have warned that anybody who has acquired a land property around the West Hills Shopping Mall and belonging to the James Town Stool should stop developing it and contact the rightful owners before going ahead with the project.

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