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NewsLands Commission worker testifies against McDan, other in East Legon land ownership...

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Lands Commission worker testifies against McDan, other in East Legon land ownership case

A dispute over land ownership in East Legon took centre stage as a representative from the Lands Commission testified in a case where business mogul Dr. Daniel McKorley, CEO of McDan Group, and another individual were sued for alleged trespassing on the contested property.

The plaintiff, Magnus A. L. De Souza, has filed a lawsuit against Joseph Nii Mensah Ashong and Dr. McKorley for allegedly encroaching on his land.

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During the proceedings, Nii Akwei Bruce-Thompson, counsel for the plaintiff, questioned the witness from the Lands Commission about the ownership of the land in question.

The witness, Jacqueline Osarfo Dikoh, a Senior Lands Administration Officer representing the Executive Secretary of the Commission, confirmed that Magnus A. L. De Souza is indeed the rightful owner of the land.

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To support her testimony, Dikoh presented documents indicating that the government had granted a lease to Prof. David Kpapko Acquaye on March 25, 1977. Subsequently, Prof. Acquaye assigned his interests to Magnus A. L. De Souza through a Deed of Assignment dated November 8, 1995.

Dikoh submitted relevant documents to the court, including the Deed of Assignment from the Government of Ghana to Prof. David Kpakpo Acquaye, the Deed of Assignment from Prof. Acquaye to Mr. Magnus A. L. De Souza, and correspondence between the plaintiff’s lawyer and the Lands Commission confirming the validity of the plaintiff’s ownership.

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Additionally, Dikoh confirmed that Mr. De Souza had fulfilled all financial obligations related to the land, including stamp duty and ground rent, up to 2024.

Further clarifying the land’s history, Dikoh explained that the British Colonial Government had acquired the land in 1944 for airport expansion.

The lease was later sold to Prof. Acquaye, who subsequently sold it to Mr. De Souza, establishing Mr. De Souza’s rightful ownership.

Justice Rita Abena Abrokwa Doko instructed that photocopies of the submitted documents be provided to the court and served to the defendants’ lawyer. The case was adjourned until March 4, 2024, for cross-examination.

Background


Mr. De Souza initiated legal action against Joseph Nii Mensah Ashong and Daniel McKorley, alleging trespassing on his land, with the first hearing held on July 31, 2017.

Subsequently, on February 13, 2020, De Souza’s legal representative filed a motion for an interlocutory injunction. Justice Doko granted the injunction on the same day, ordering the defendants and any associated parties to refrain from interfering with De Souza’s land until the conclusion of the case.

In his defence, Ashong disputed De Souza’s claim, asserting that his late father acquired the land from the Nii Odoi Atsem family of La in 1974 and immediately took possession. Ashong argued that De Souza, being a non-Ghanaian, unlawfully held an interest in the land for over 50 years, contravening Act 1036 of the Land Act, 2020, and the 1992 Constitution.

However, during cross-examination in July 2023, De Souza countered these claims, demonstrating that his lease had not expired. Additionally, Ashong claimed to have commenced construction on the land in 2000 but later demolished it to start afresh with financial backing from his partner.

He maintained that the land was legitimately granted to McDan by his family, the Nii Odoi Atsem family of La and Okponglo, as evidenced in his statement to the police.

“Neither the plaintiff nor his grantor has possessed the land in dispute or entered or done anything on the disputed land for these years that they claim to have acquired the land. If the plaintiff or his grantor did have any interest in the disputed land, that cannot be the reality now, as for the past 10 years they have not developed or exercised any act of possession on the land, he added.

The Lands Commission witness, however, gave evidence that in their files, Mr. De Souza is the registered owner of the land.

The case has been adjourned to March 4, 2024.

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