Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu & Belvy Ofori
Friday, May 30, 2014
It has emerged that owners of lands taken by the government to set up the Trade Fair site have not been paid compensation since the acquisition in the 1960s.
The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, Dr. Ebenezer Erasmus Okpoti Komey gave a mind-blowing testimony about how the facility has been under-utilized for years when he appeared at the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts.
The ‘Commission of Enquiry into the payment of Judgement Debt and Akin’ under C.I. 79 to investigate the frivolous and dubious payments of huge monies to undeserving individuals and companies, was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama after public uproar over the payments in what has now come to be termed as Judgement Debts (JD).
Notable among them were payments made to CP (€94 million) and the never-ending case of GH¢51.2million parted to the self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, both of which many believed were dubious and frivolous.
Dr. Okpoti Komey, who was in a wheelchair due to ill health, told Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau that the land had been valued and all that was needed was for the Ministry of Finance to approve and issue the cheques but it had never been done.
“The owners of the land have been pursuing us and that is why I am sick. Maybe when the government is able to pay them, I shall get well,” he said humorously.
He told the commission that in March 2006, the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission valued the property at GH¢23.1million and in 2010 it was re-valued at GH¢37million and added that since no compensation has been paid, they were unable to have what he called ‘lease head’.
He added that in November 2008, the Lands Commission directed that an area of 127.60 acres be allocated to the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited for lease for 50 years when it was restructured to become a limited liability company from an authority adding that “if the compensation is paid we will see our way forward.”
Justice Apau then required from him about the status of a recent announcement that some foreigners were coming to invest in the company, but Dr. Okpoti Komey replied “that was just political talk,” for which the Sole Commissioner also said “I like your frankness.”
The witness said that although the government turned the authority into a limited liability company, the initiative “exists only on paper” since the government over the years had neglected the facility.
He said since the government paid ¢280 million towards the organization of Indutech some years back, nothing substantial had come to them in terms of funds.
The CEO also said at one point a private company called African Lake entered to operate an amusement park but it never materialized even though the Lands Commission gave them a portion of the land which they did not even pay for.
A legal practitioner Samuel R. Brempong also testified and confirmed that his client Florence Tamakloe was paid ¢151 million as judgement debt following a fatal accident caused by a policeman.
Anthony K. Kokroko, a legal officer at the Ghana police Service, assisted by ASP Sheila Gyamfua Kessi also appeared and tendered in evidence documents indicating notices of intention to sue the police.
He said some of the cases were pending in court and could not explain further.