It has emerged that, the traditional ruler who allegedly bribed the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah to obtain a favourable judgment from the Supreme Court, is pursuing the mobile phone giant Vodafone for a whopping US$16 million as damages.
The amount is for trespassing on a 8.242-acre land at Gomoa Afransi in the Central Region acquired by Vodafone in the 1950s. The company was then known as Ghana Telecom and was 100percent owned by the state.
Documents obtained by The Herald, has revealed that on October 6, 1969, Ghana Telecom paid a full amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis in full discharge of the land in accordance with the State Land Act 1962(Act 125), however, a Swedro High Court judgment dated May 10, 2017, is asking the company to once again pay the Odikro of Gomoa Afransi, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, another compensation to the tune of USD16, 009,920.00.
The case is in connection with the microwave station situated at Gomoa Afransi. Gomoa Afransi is a town under Gomoa Ajumako Traditional Area.
In and around 1960, the then Ghana Telecom, acquired a piece and parcel of land situated at Gomoa Afransi to mount their microwave station. It was during the time of Nana Obrenu Gurah II, the then Odikro of Gomoa Afransi.
According to a document from the Land Valuation Board dated 2003, on October 6, 1969, Ghana Telecom paid a full amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis in full discharge of the land in accordance with the State Land Act 1962( Act 125).
This was after some elders of Gomoa Afransi in 2003, demanded that compensation be paid by Ghana Telecom again on the site.
On February 3, 2004, Ghana Telecom responded that compensation had already been paid in full in 1969, and attached documents and receipts for their perusal, and that was the end of the case until Ghana Telecom became Vodafone around 2008, and Ogyeedom became the Odikro of Gomoa Afransi in 2006.
Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, took Ghana Telecom to Swedru High Court to claim a compensation of $16million for the use of the site since its acquisition in 1950.
Having pushed back the elders of Afransi in 2003, the suspicion is that Vodafone did not take the matter seriously leading to an award made against them and an order to pay an initial amount of $5 million of the compensation demand before they could proceed on the case.
Vodafone appealed, but the Appeal Court confirmed the decision of the High Court, demanding Vodafone to pay the $5 million before they could proceed further.
Vodafone paid the said $5 million to Ogyeedom and appealed against the decision at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, has since granted Vodafone leave to adduce fresh evidence, because they now have the document that confirms that the compensation had long been paid to his predecessor in 1969.
52-yeaars on, the matter is still pending in the Supreme Court of Ghana, following the controversies.
The Herald has landed a dossier on the case, including documents dating back to December 1, 2003, which have revealed the traditional ruler at the center of the case, might indeed be using the Court to further his questionable interest, that is seeking to collect an amount of money as compensation from Ghana Telecom on a land for which compensation had been paid to another person as far back as October 6, 1969.
The December 1, 2003 letter, authored by the Land Valuation Board is addressed to Company Solicitor Ghana Telecom, HQ Telecom House Accra-North and entitled “Re: Gomoa Afransie – Site for Ghana Telecom Relay Station ”.
It revealed that one Nana Obranu Gurah II, was paid a total amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis (Nc850, 00) as compensation on the said land on October 6, 1969.
The document mentioned one A-G Sam, as having witnessed the receipt of the money 52 years ago.
It is unclear, if these documents have been made available to the Courts and what weight has been put on it. Again, Ghana Telecom, has since 2008, become Vodafone after the latter acquired 70percent of the company from the Kufuor-government at a cost of US$900 million and a total enterprise value of approximately US$1.3 billion. It is therefore unclear who is paying these compensations.
The Herald, has seen a photocopy of the receipt confirming the payment made to the said Nana Obranu Gurah II, which leaves many within his traditional area as to what Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, is in Supreme Court demanding from the Ghana Telecommunication.
There are claims that Ghana Telecom per the ongoing process, has already paid some US$5 million to Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, whose locality in 2019, was elevated to a Paramountcy by the Akufo-Addo government through the instrumentality of then Chieftaincy Minister, Kofi Dzamesi, despite protest from the National House of Chiefs. Some chiefs in Gomoa, had also protested at the elevation of the Afransie to paramountcy.
The Land Valuation Board document signed for one K Bentsi-Enchill, identified an Executive-Secretary bears the heading: “Re: Gomoa Afransie-Site For Ghana Telecom Relay Station”, and it said “this is to acknowledge your letter of even reference dated October 13, 2003 on the above subject matter and to furnish you the understated details in response to your request”.
It said that “the subject site’s acquisition was effected by the state lands (Swedru Microwave Station) instrument, 1969- E.I. 86/69. Only one claimant, in the person of Nana Obranu Gurah II, submitted a claim for compensation within the statutory period of three months, as at then, specified under the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125)”.
According to the letter, “a total compensation amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis (N¢850.00) was paid, received and receipted for by the said Nana Obranu Gurah II on 6th October 1969. A-G Sam witnessed the receipt. A photocopy of the receipt is attached herewith”.
“Based on the facts as stated in the immediate past paragraph, the Board considers the issue of compensation claims and payment relating to this acquisition as fully finalized and closed. The Board therefore finds your assertion “that as at present there are two rival claimants for compensation in respect of the above – named site” rather intriguing and confirms its knowledge of only the above cited claim, subsequently processed and paid”.
“It must be emphasize that under Section 4(1) of the operative law, State Lands Act, 1962(Act 125) “Any person claiming a right and having interest in any land subject to an instrument made under Section 1 of this Act …. shall within three months from the date of the publication of the instrument ……… submit in writing to the Minister,
(a) Particulars of his claim or interest
(b) The manner in which his claim or interest has been affected by the instrument,
(c) The extent of any damage done.
(d) The amount of the compensation claimed and the basis for the calculation of the compensation.”
The onus therefore always rests with the person claiming to have an interest or right in a land to make a claim for compensation and establish his or her title. If the person overlooks or fails to establish his or her title, for any reason as at the time of the instrument’s publication, and compensation is eventually paid to another person who on the face of the documents he/she holds, is judged to have title of the land, the second claimant has to follow the compensation into the hands of the first claimant upon asserting his/her superior title later”.
The letter ended by saying that “it is anticipated that the above information fully satisfies your request for evidence and further addresses the implications thereof but do not hesitate to call back on any queries you may have”.
On receipt of the Land Valuation document, one Oystein Bjorge in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer, wrote to one Abusuatsir Nana Segu of House number 512, Etsifi Street, Agona Abodom – Central Region, saying “on the strength of the above revelation we are unable to pay compensation to you as demanded and we consider this matter as closed”.
Oystein Bjorge’s letter dated February 3, 2004 and entitled: “Payment of Compensation – Re: Gomoa Afransie-Site For Ghana Telecom Relay Station” reads “We refer to your letter on the above subject demanding compensation for the use of the above site by Ghana Telecom”.
“We have attached hereof, a self-explanatory letter from the Land Valuation Board, Accra. Indicating that compensation for the use of the said land, had long been paid to one Nana Obranu Gurah II of Afransie and the same was witnessed by A-G Sam on 6th October 1969”.
Interestingly, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI’s attempt to get more money as compensation on the land, has led the eruption of scandal which the Chief Justice is alleged by his onetime friend and lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa, to have demanded US$ 5 million bribe to give a favourable judgment, a claim he has since denied.
The Chief Justice, has since denied the claim and shockingly petitioned the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe the bribery allegation made against him by his onetime friend and lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa, and leaving many especially, those in the legal fraternity finding it difficult to appreciate the fact that Justice Anim Yeboah is choosing how and who probes him.
The bribery allegations were contained in Lawyer Afrifa’s response to a petition filed against him by Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI at the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council (GLC).
Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, dragged Mr Afrifa to the GLC, alleging that he collected $100,000 from him with a promise to help get a favourable judgment in the case.
The Herald’s findings are that Accra-based lawyer, Ace Annan Ankomah, had represented Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd in the case at the Supreme Court, while Akoto Ampaw, who was mentioned by Lawyer Afrifa, as having been recommended by the Chief Justice as his replacement, represented Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI.
Ogyeedom Atta IV, had asked the GLC to order Mr Afrifa to refund the $100,000, saying the lawyer failed to deliver on his promise to get him a favourable court decision.
But in a response dated July 8, Mr Afrifa, denied the claims of Ogyeedom Kwesi Atta VI, further alleging that he was asked to refund GHc300,000 in legal fees to enable his client to raise a $5million bribe to be paid to the Chief Justice to get a favourable decision in the legal dispute.
Lawyer Afrifa, made two interesting, but damning allegations against the Chief Justice, who was not mentioned in Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta’s petition to the GLC.
Lawyer Afrifa, had said that his client told him he was able to negotiate with Chief Justice Anim Yeboah to accept a US$5 million bribe for him to win the case at the Supreme Court and that he had already paid US$500,000 to the Chief Justice.