Counsel for former President John Dramani Mahama, Mr Tony Lithur, has sued a Commissioner of Police (COP) for trespassing on his land with the aid of armed policemen.
Mr Lithur and another, Mr Addo Allotey, filed the suit at the High Court on March 31, 2017, asking the court to perpetually restrain Mr J. Oppong-Boanuh, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration, from trespassing on his land.
They are also asking the court to declare Mr Lithur as the title holder of the land situated behind the Trade Fair Centre in La, Accra. Mr Lithur wants the court to also award damages for trespass, as well as award costs in his favour.
Mr Allotey sold the land to Mr Lithur in 2015. According to Mr Lithur, Oppong-Boanuh forcibly entered onto his land, which he (Mr Lithur) had title to, with the aid of armed policemen and was earnestly developing the land, despite a directive from the La Police which directed both Mr Lithur and Mr Boanuh to produce documents on the land in dispute.
COP Oppong-Boanuh reacts
In a reaction, Mr Oppong-Boanuh has declared that he will use all legal means at his disposal to protect the land, which he rightfully acquired, reports Kwame Asare Boadu
According to him, he acquired the land from the rightful owners, the Tawiah Tsinaitse Family and would not allow anyone to illegally take it from him.
He told the Daily Graphic that on his return from peacekeeping operations in The Sudan in 2012, he found to his amazement that someone was constructing a wall around the land, while a wooden structure had also been erected on it.
Days later, he said he returned to the land to find a building foundation being raised on it.
Mr Oppong-Boanuh said Mr Allotey lodged a complaint against him with the police “and I responded to police invitation to assist in investigations”.
He stated that the land in question did not form part of the East Dadekotopon Development Trust. He said about two weeks ago, he had information that some blocks he had packed
on the land were being destroyed by some people and so he called the nearest police patrol team to go and salvage the situation.
“When we went there, Mr Lithur was there, claiming that he was the owner of the land and not the lawyer for the man who was litigating with me,” he said.
Mr Oppong-Boanuh stated that as the rightful owner of the land, he was ready to battle those who were wrongfully claiming ownership of his land.
Promotion and violent conduct
A statement of claim filed on Mr Lithur’s behalf by a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, noted that the defendant sent armed policemen to heckle and threaten Mr Lithur when he went to the land in dispute to stop workers from further developing it.
It said the “violent conduct” of the defendant coincided with his recent promotion in the Ghana Police Service to the post of Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration
“It is clear that the defendant intends to continue to forcibly trespass on the first plaintiff’s property and go so far as use state resources and uniformed policemen to protect his claim to the property,” it noted.
Abuse of Power
The statement accused the defendant of forcibly commencing construction activities on the land without recourse to due process and or regard to the rule of law.
According to the plaintiffs, Mr Oppong-Boanuh would continue with his unlawful acts unless restrained by the court.
Narrating incidents leading to the filing of the suit, the statement of claim noted that Mr Allotey was, as of 2014, the owner of the land when Mr Boanuh attempted to forcibly take possession of it.
Mr Lithur was then the lawyer for Mr Allotey and was, accordingly, instructed to write a petition concerning Mr Oppong-Boanuh’s behaviour.
According to the statement of claim, Mr Oppong-Boanuh stopped moves to forcibly take over the land until after the change in government in December 2016.
“On March 22, 2017, the first plaintiff received a call that the defendant had, after a lull of nearly three years, violently trespassed onto the property once again. When first plaintiff visited the property, he observed that defendant’s agents had unlawfully broken down the gate and a portion of the concrete fence wall and deposited concrete blocks and a trip of gravels on the property,” it pointed out.
It said Mr Lithur lodged a complaint with the Tsaado Police, but that did not deter the defendant, who later defied a directive from the police asking them to produce documents covering the land.
According to the plaintiffs, the defendant was using armed men to guard the disputed land and was currently developing the land.
The statement of claim said Mr Lithur’s attempts to stop Mr Oppong-Boanuh’s agents from further developing his land had landed in near fatality, as armed men had, on different occasions, either heckled him or attempted to hurt him.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs have filed an application for interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendant from further encroaching on the land until the final determination of the case.
Hearing of the interlocutory injunction will take place at the High Court in Accra today