NST Loses Another Court Case

Daily Graphic
Accra, Ghana 
Tuesday, May 23, 2000 

Disputed land at Sowutuom: 
Court rules in favour of Madam Quartey 

By Paul Awortwi-Mensah 

An Accra Circuit Court has ruled that Madam Bentice Oyoe Quartey is the rightful owner of a piece of land situated at Sowutuom on which a church with its roots in Japan, Nichiren Shoshu, has constructed its temple. The court also granted a perpetual injunction against the defendants, restraining them from having anything to do with that piece of land or any part of it. 

The court , presided over by Mr. Justice Victor D. Ofoe, a High Court Judge who sat as an additional Circuit Court Judge, also awarded $1 million damages against the defendants for trespassing on Madam Oyoe's land. It also awarded cost of $1 million against the defendants. 

The court gave the judgement in the case in which Madam Oyoe had filed a writ praying the court to declare her as the rightful owner of the land at Sowutuom where the defendants are putting up a temple. 

She also sought damages for trespass and demanded perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents or assignees from further trespassing on the said piece of land. 

The defendants are Mr. Tony Enniful, one Mr. Darko, and the Nichiren Shoshu Temple of Ghana. 

In her statement of claim, Madam Oyoe stated that in April 1983 she entered into agreement with the Abbeyman family at Abbeyman for the lease of the family land at Abbeyman (also known as Sowutuom), which the family readily granted. 

She said in 1997, she noticed that Mr. Ennninful and Mr. Darko had trespassed on the land. She said she subsequently invited them to the Amanaman District Assembly and then to the police for the peaceful resolution of the dispute but the defendants continued to trespass by building on the land. 

In their statement of defence, the defendants denied Madam Oyoe's claim of title to the land and contended that the land was leased to the second defendants' church on May 1, 1995, adding that their lease document to the land executed by the rightful owners of the Abbeyman lands, the queenmother (matriarch) of Abbeyman, has been deposited with Lands Commission for processing. 

They continued that the queenmother had denied the sale of any land to Madam Oyoe but rather admitted giving Madama Oyoe but rather admitted giving Madam Oyoe a parcel of land, and because she did not perform the necessary customary rites, the land was taken away from her. 

In its ruling the court said all the witnesses called in the case affirmed that the land which is in dispute was leased to Madam Oyoe. It said when the defendants called their leasor, Naa Dede Akarbi, the queenmother of Abbyman, she told the court that when she was enstooled, the plaintiff came to her complaining that two plots of land she had acquired from her (queenmother's) predecessor had been taken away from her and asked for replacement. 

According to the queenmother's evidence, the replacement was done but because Madam Oyoe did not perform the necessary customary rites, she repossessed those plots. 

The court said the queenmother did not dispute that Madam Oyoe was granted plots of land by her predecessor but admitted that when she was granting the plots to Mr. Darko, she did not know those plots had already been given out. 

As to the authority to sell land at Abbeyman, the queenmother said she was enstooled together with Mr. S. O. Lanmptey and it is only the two of them who have authority to sell Abbeyman Stool land. She said they operated as joint grantors initiality. 

In respect of the grant to Mr. Darko, the queenmother said that land was not jointly granted because she was not on speaking terms with Mr. Lanmptey at the time of the lease, adding that at a certain point each of them was selling land without consulting the other. 

The defendants in their case claimed that the land was acquired by Madam Oyoe through deceitful means and therefore the grant should be declared null and void. 

The court, at the end of it all, said it finds Madam Oyoe's claim of title to the land genuine because it was supported by documents which clearly expressed a simple and straightforward transfer of lease of plots to her, adding that neither the defendants nor their witnesses were able to prove that the plots did not belong to her. 

It said the defendants also admitted that when they started developing the land, Madam Oyoe confronted them and asked them to stop work since they were trespassing on her land but they refused and the matter was taken to the Amasaman District Assembly. 

The court said it does not find any rule of equity that can be invoked in favour of the defendants and therefore granted Madam Oyoe her claim that the said plots of land rightly belong to her. 

The Ghananian Times
Tuesday, May 23, 2000 

Nichiren Shoshu loses land case 

By N. Norman Cooper 

An Accra Circuit Court yesterday declared Madam Beatrice Oye Quartey, a trader, as the owner of the land on which the Japanese religious sect, Nichiren Shoshu, has built its temple at Sowutuom, a suburb of Accra. 

The Circuit Court ruled that Tonny Enninful, and M. Darko, the defendants, and their supporters trespassed on Madam Oyoe Quartey's land of about five plots and went ahead to built the temple for Nichiren Shoshu, the religious sect with its origins in Japan. 

Consequently, the court, presided over by Mr. Justice V. D. Ofoe, a High Court Judge sitting as an additional circuit judge, awarded $1 million, as damages for trespass against the religious sect for denying Madam Quartey the right to her land where the Nichiren Shoshu temple was built, despite her confrontation with the defendants before they started the project. 

The court also granted Madam Oyoe-Quartey $1.5 million as cost to the defendants. 

In addition, it granted an order by the plaintiff, for perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from having anything to do with the parcel of land belonging to Madam Oyoe Quartey or any part thereof. The defendants have already completed the temple. 

Mr. Justice Ofoe dismissed a counter claim by the defendants that the plaintiff acquired the parcel of land through fraudulent means. 

Madam Oyoe Quartey on January 20, 1999, filed a writ at an Accra High Court seeking a declaration of title to the land at Sowutuom in the Ca District, where the defendants were building a temple. 

Plaintiff also sought an order for perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, the Nichiren Shoshu sect, their agents and assignees from further trespassing on the said parcel of land. She also prayed the court to award damages against the defendants for trespassing on her property. 

It was the case of Plaintiff that in April 1983, she centered into an agreement with the Abbeyman family of Abbeyman at Sowutuom for a lease of the family land for which the formal lease was made in her favour. 

It was her case further that she properly acquired the land from the Abbeyman family and performed all necessary rites before it was handed over to her, after the family demarcated the plots. In 1993, she noticed that Tonny, Darko, and their agents had trespassed on the land. 

She challenged them and invited the defendants to prove their case before the Ga District Assembly (GDA) and the police. The defendants failed to prove their case and the matter was sent to court. 

In his ruling, Mr. Justice Ofoe said the evidence was clear that the defendants were confronted by the plaintiffs when they started constructing. "They ignored her and went ahead and completed the Temple for Nichiren shoshu which is the co-defendant in the case." The defendants were absent from court.