A high court in Accra has confirmed Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited as the legal owners of land measuring 2,911.53 acres situated at Katamanso in the Greater Accra Region.
His Lordship Jerome Noble-Nkrumah, who presided over the court on May 6, 2020, delivered a judgment in which he stated that, “The court finds that the plaintiff, Nii Adjetey Obuor Buor II of Teshie, has failed to satisfy the court on all his claims against the defendants, including Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited.”
In view of this, the judge dismissed the case on grounds that the plaintiff’s action failed in its entirety. “A claim for declaration of title or order for injunction must always fail if the plaintiff fails to establish positively the identity of the land he claims,” the judge said.
The court awarded a cost of GH¢20,000 against Nii Adjetey Obuor Buor II of Teshie in favour of Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited.
Nii Adjetey Obuor Buor II, who is claiming ownership of the land covering 1,640 acres, sued Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited, the Nungua Stool and 14 other defendants at the high court.
The plaintiff, as part of his reliefs, asked the high court to make an order directed at Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited to pay compensation for the area utilised to the family of Nii Adjetey Obour Buor.
Additionally, he also wanted the court to order the 16 defendants, including Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited, to release the remaining tract of land not utilised to the family of Nii Adjetey Obour Buor.
Nii Buor II also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants, their agents and assigns or privies from entering or developing or conveying any portions of the land or further doing anything on the land that is likely to be an encumbrance or inconsistent with the allodial ownership of the land.
The plaintiff, Nii Buor II, described himself as Gbeyeomli Mantse and a direct descendant of Numo Adjetey Obuor Buor, the founder of Gbeyeomli village and its surrounding villages. In support of his claim against Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited and other defendants, Nii Adjetey Obuor Buor II said his ancestors discovered the land at the centre of the litigation through hunting, long before the Katamanso war and was the first to build a cottage on that tract of land.
According to him, Gbeyeomli was founded contemporaneously with Oyarifa and Ashaley Botwe. The plaintiff further stated that Gbeyeomli land forms part of the larger Numo Nmashie lands as confirmed in a judgment obtained by Numo Nmashie family in Civil Appeal No. 49/80.
The case of Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited
Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate traced its roots of title to a grant of the land by the Nungua Stool on October 8, 1970 to the then Black Watch Cattle Breeding Farms. This grant was for farming purposes and the land was 4,244.25 acres.
According to Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate, on January 18, 1974, Black Watch Cattle Breeding Farms assigned its interest in the entire land to Agri-Cattle Limited, with the consent and concurrence of the Nungua Stool.
The defendants stated that the land in question was also registered at the Lands Commission and, subsequently, the Nungua Stool granted a change in use of the land from farming to real estate development to Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate. The company said that at this point, it then changed its name to Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited on June 13, 2005 and same was duly registered at Registrar-General’s Department.
Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited, which was the fourth defendant, stated that following a compulsory acquisition of a portion of its land by the Government of Ghana on May 27, 1992 for State Housing Project, its land size reduced from 4,244.25 acres to 2,911.53 acres at the time it acquired its Land Title Certificate No. TD0513 in 1996.
Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate further told the court that it has been in undisbursed possession and occupation of the land granted to them by the Nungua Stool since 1974 and has built several houses and amusement park on the said land.
Apart from the lease agreements and Land Title Certificate, among other documents which Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate tendered as evidence of acts and events of living memory by undisturbed possession and occupation on its land, it also tendered in support of its claim, three high court judgments which all confirmed Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate as the legal owner of the land it occupies.
The cases are Suit No. AL/83/2007 Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited vrs Lands Commission, & Anor, Suit No. BL 313/05; John Armah & Ashaley Botwe Family vrs Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited and Suit No. FAL 363/13; the Numo Nmashie Families of Teshie/La represented by Daniel Nii Adzete Adzei and Nii Nmai Kodzo vrs Benjamin Quarshie Mensah, Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate, and the Nungua Stool.
Nungua Stool also confirmed that they had granted the land to Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate Limited since 1974.
The court’s decision
The court, in evaluating the evidence of the parties to arrive at its final decision, said that in the composite plan ordered by the court, the size of the land shown by the plaintiff to the surveyor in its site plan is even much bigger than the land shown by the plaintiff’s own site plan.
Nii Buor II called a witness who claimed to be an administrative head of Numo Nmashie family, a retired officer of the erstwhile Ghana Airways Corporation, but the witness could not describe the land in contention.
With regard to the case Numo Nmashie & Ashiyie families of Teshie/La filed against Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate, the court found that the Numo Nmashie family failed to establish its title to the land in question by acquisition, identity and possession or its right to possession, amongst others.
The court then entered judgment in favour of Agri-Cattle Lakeside Estate on its counter claim. The high court, in its final decision, said “it was trite principle of law that he who asserts must prove and must win on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence”.