The Supreme Court presided over by the learned Justice Pwamang in the morning of Wednesday 29th of November, 2023 expressed its displeasure against the action of the Lands Commission, unnamed persons at the Office of the President and lawyers of Lands Commission and the Apostolic Church represented by Martin Kpebu for flagrant disrespect of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Bench was visibly angry for the disrespect to its decision on a land situate at Sakaman by virtue of the Lands Commission executing a transaction with the Apostolic Church of Ghana concerning the same land despite a Supreme Court judgment settling rightful ownership of the land on one Mohammed Odartey Lamptey.
In a hearing of an application filed by Nartey Tetteh, lawyer for the plaintiff and judgment creditor in the suit titled Mohammed Odartey Lamptey v Lands Commission and 2 Others numbered J8/132/23, Justice Lovelace-Johnson did not mince words when she said the conduct of Martin Kpebu was in sharp contrast to the principles he preaches when he sits on T.V. Her words came after the bench struggled to accept suggestions from lawyer of the Lands Commission who told the court that attempts by the Lands Commission to allocate another land to the said Mohammed Odartey Lamptey in place of that settled on him by the Supreme Court were unsuccessful and thus wanted more time to reach an agreement with the judgment creditor.
The Supreme Court offered Counsel for the Lands Commission the opportunity to explain why the Court should not commit officers of the Lands Commission to contempt and sentenced to prison for their action which in the view of the Bench amounted to a gross act of contempt.
In his usual deep and authoritative voice, Justice Amadu Tanko said the judgment creditor, Mohammed Lamptey had been rendered helpless despite the decision of the Supreme Court that he is the rightful owner of a land at Sakaman he acquired from the Lands Commission in 2000 which he earmarked for a fuel station but was encroached upon and developed by the Apostolic Church.
In attempts at solving the matter and aiding negotiations between the parties for a land in lieu of that situate at Sakaman and in the possession of the Apostolic Church, the Bench recommended monetary payments to Mr. Lamptey by the Lands Commission.
In the middle of Mr. Nartey’s address to the Supreme Court upon an invitation for his reaction to contempt proceedings suo motu by the court, Justice Amadu shot at him with an advice to report lawyers for the respondents especially Martin Kpebu, Counsel for the Apostolic Church, to the Bar Association for condoning contempt of the Supreme Court. Justice Amadu said owing to his popularity in the media, he will be compelled to lead his clients to do the right thing. Justice Amadu Tanko also made it known to the lands commission that the matter posed great embarrassment to the government and thus, it was in the interest of the state to have the matter resolved.
Mohammed Odartey Lamptey acquired the land in contention from the Lands Commission in 2000. The land was originally demarcated for a cemetary but later on changed for other purposes. Mr. Lamptey acquired the land for the operation of a fuel station. He developed the land in pursuance of this objective after the purchase of the land.
The land forms part of Gbawe family lands which was customarily given to Mohammed by the rightful persons of the family. A part of the family despite the transfer to Mohammed of an interest on the land, sold same land to the Apostolic Church who are respondents in the suit. The Church entered the land and developed same and are presently in possession of the land.
Odartey Lamptey took the matter to the High Court but lost. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the High Court and same was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Subsequent to the decision of the Supreme Court and with communication from the Jubilee house, a transaction was made by the Lands Commission with Apostolic Church transferring same land to the Church.
Faced with challenges executing the judgment of the Supreme Court Mr. Lamptey through his lawyer, Nartey Tetteh, applied to the Supreme Court for directions and contempt. Today’s hearing was on the application for directions. The Supreme Court is yet to hear the contempt application filed by lawyer for Mr. Lamptey but has raised the issue of contempt in the application for directions.