A businessman has dragged the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, and another to the Fast Track High Court for contempt.
The applicant, Mr Jonas A. Kraku, is asking the court to imprison Mr Vanderpuije and the Head of the Hydrological Services
Department, Mr Wise Ametepe, for pulling down part of his storey building at South Odorkor in Accra. According to the applicant, whose application was filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr Bright Akwetey, the respondents acted in contempt of the court when they sent emissaries to pull down part of his building to put up a drainage facility at a time he was contesting the state on the same subject matter.
The applicant acquired a plot of land in 1983 to put up the said storey-building and in 1984, obtained a building permit from the AMA to eventually put up the building, which comprised four bedrooms, two living rooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, two toilets and a one-bedroom Boys Quarters in the 1990s. According to the applicant, there was no drainage system at the area and that prompted him to establish his own.
He said the residents in the area used portions of his property to put up drainage facilities, adding that “eventually, this unapproved “drainage” system created by the residents was adopted by the Town and Country Planning Department of the AMA and they gave approval to it in 2011, and they produced the site plan containing the unapproved “drainage system created by the residents in the community”.
Affidavit in Support
An affidavit in support of the applicant’s motion for contempt noted that “the population of the community began to increase dramatically with more buildings springing up without a drainage system to accommodate their effluence, and each new landlord created his own drain to carry effluence from their houses, to join or connect with the already self-created drainage system that ended up passing through the portion of the gutter I had allowed on my land.
The effluence going through that gutter I had allowed to be constructed through my house, increased in size and quantum as the years went by, and flood waters began to accumulate in the area. “That in view of the fact that the portion of the drain that goes through my house had not been ‘cemented’, the bigger volumes of household effluence began eating deeper and wider into my land.
“That the problem of the volume of household effluence going through my house was compounded by the construction of the Odorkor-Mallam road, which raised the gradient of that road above what earlier obtained when the community was first
established, so rainwater began creating floods in the area.
“The floods had to go through the same drainage system the residents had constructed, so an unpleasant situation developed where flood waters began creating havoc in the area. The need, therefore, arose for a bigger drainage system to deal with the floods.” It said more flooding consequently occasionally caused devastation in the area and quite
unsurprisingly, the residents in the area felt the need for bigger drains to convey the flood waters.
The affidavit averred that the AMA on visiting the area, decided that the plaintiff should give away a bigger portion of his land to convey the flood waters or lose his house for the flood waters. According to the applicant, he initiated an action at the High Court against the AMA, to stop them from widening the drain through his house and obtained an interlocutory injunction to restrain them from carrying out any further works in his house, because “I was only carrying out a social duty by permitting the residents to use part of my land to create the waterway through my land, but I was not on a waterway.”
The affidavit in support further said the Hydrological Services Department tried to create a wider drain through his house to convey flood waters from the other houses in the community, instead of averting their minds to creating a planned drainage system throughout the community. That action resulted in the applicant initiating an action at the High Court against the
Hydrological Services Department and the Attorney-General, to restrain the former from using his house as a “scape goat”,
when the Hydrological Department was the appropriate institution of state which had failed to construct the network of
drains in the area to convey the flood waters.
The applicant noted that during the pendency of this suit an Interlocutory Order of Injunction was issued against the Hydrological Services Department and the Attorney-General, to restrain them from interfering with his house in anyway, until the final determination of the suit. It said various consultations and informal discussions were carried out, in the line of government acquiring his house in conformity with the law, and paying compensation to him according to law.
The affidavit in support noted that on June 16, 2015 around 1:30 a.m., a contractor was contracted by the contemnors to demolish part of his house. According to the applicant, the contemnors were fully aware of the pendency of the suit and yet had taken steps to demolish his property. The applicant held that the behavior of the contemnors fell foul of the law and, therefore, the court must demonstrate its commitment to preserve and protect the rule of law by committing them to prison for showing contempt of the authority of the court.