Ghana, Saudi In Diplomatic Spat

A diplomatic spat between Ghana and Saudi Arabia has been triggered by the demolition of a property in possession of the oil rich country’s mission in Osu, Accra.

Following the development, the Attorney General’s Department has initiated a suit to put on hold the default judgment in favour of the Osu Mankralo who went to court on the issue.

A justice of the High Court, Mrs Rebecca Sittie,in her order for interlocutory injunction dated 16th September, 2014 referred to the affidavit of Georgina Mensa-Bonsu of the Attorney- General’s Chambers, Accra, in support of the exparte motion for the order that the defendant, Nii Ako Nortei, ‘by himself, his agents, workmen, assigns, security officers or whosoever are restrained from entering or dealing with the property, the subject of dispute.’

The order holds until the final determination of the suit instituted by the Attorney General’s Department in respect of the Saudi Embassy property in Osu, Accra.

A statement of claim by the Attorney General’s Department notes that the action is being taken on behalf of the Republic of Ghana, which, it went on, holds reversionary interest in the subject matter and on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia, holder of the leasehold interest on the land in contention.

The Attorney General’s Department in presenting its case referred to a document dated 1st November, 1962 made between Michael Daniel Bassil acting through his attorney, Mrs Charlotte Bassil on one part and the Government of Saudi Arabia acting per

the Charge d’Affaires of the embassy in respect of the land in contention.

The Saudi government took possession and put up structures using same as the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the statement went on, adding that various constitutions which came into effect, especially the 1992 Constitution, reduced the interest of Saudi Arabia to fifty years commencing 22nd August, 1969 ‘with the reversion in the President on behalf of and in trust for the people of Ghana.’

Considering the commercial nature of the area, the statement went on, the embassy moved its consular services from the premises with the intention of upgrading the property on the land for use by the Commercial Attache.

The defendant, the Osu Mankralo, is said to have obtained a default judgment in his favour on the grounds that the property had been abandoned and being an allodial owner, is entitled to its repossession.

Continuing, the plaintiff maintains that ‘none of the defendants in the said action had any proprietary or possessory interest in the land and that the judgment was obtained by fraud.’

In their explanation of the fraud, plaintiffs pointed out that ‘the court was misrepresented that the defendants were the proper persons to be sued and indicating that the plaintiff would direct service of the writ in the said suit when the said defendants were nowhere to be found.’

That the Government of Saudi Arabia or its Embassy was not joined to the suit, although there was a Saudi Arabian Embassy name plate and flag on the premises showing that it was owned by and in the possession of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ghana, suggests fraud, the statement went on.

The plaintiff explained that the Government of Saudi Arabia or its Embassy had not abandoned the premises in question because, as it points out, ‘its flag and sign-plate have always been on the premises, its air conditioners, water tank and generator have always been on the land and it has kept security guards on the land until they were recently driven away.’

BY A.R. Gomda

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