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Nana Hyeaman II v. Osei and Another
[1982-83] 1 GLR 495
High Court, Sekondi, Twumasi, J.
April 6, 1981

Ruling on preliminary objection raised by the defendants regarding the capacity of the plaintiff, a stool occupant, to institute an action challenging teh validity fo a purported concession affecting his land.

The preliminary question that erupted in this proceeding is whether the plaintiff, who is the divisional chief o fGwira Bnso in the Gwira Traditional Area, has capacity to institute an action for the cancellation and setting aside of a timber lease of a piece or parcel of land attached to his stool. Counsel fo rthe defendants and co-defendants submitted that there is no such capacity and referred to the Concessions Act, 1962 (Act 124) in substantiation of their submission, particularly section 16 thereof. The answer to the question threfore requires the interpretation of section 16 of Act 124 which provides:

``16. (1) All lands referred to in subseection (2) or subsection (4) of section 4 of the Forests Ordinace (Cap. 157) and which have been constituted or proposed to be constituted as forest reserves under that ORdinace and all ladns deemed to be constituted as forest reeserves under subsection (7) of this section are hereby vested in the President in trust for the stools concerned:

[497] Provided that all rights, customary or otherwise, in such lands validly existing immediately before the commencement of this Act shall continue on and after such comm3encement subject to this Act and any other enactment fo rthe time being in force.

(2) All lands which in the future shall be proposeed to be constituted as forest reserves under the Forests Ordinace (Cap. 157) shall become vested in the President in trust for the stools concerened with effect from teh date of the publication of the notice relating to such land and prescribed under section 5 (1) of that Ordinacne.

(3) Any land, other than land referred to in the preceding subsectoins, subject to the Administration of Lands Act, 1962 and in respect of which reights have been granted with respect to timber or trees under any concession and in force immediately befor ethe commencement of this Act are vested in teh PResident in trust for the stools concerned, subject to the terms of the concession, this Act and any other enactment for the time being in force.

(4) All rights with respect to timber or trees on any land other than land specified in the prceeding subsections of this section are vested in the President in trust for th esools concerned.

(5) It shall be lawful for the President to execute any deed or do any act as trustee in respect of lands or rights referred to in this section.

(6) Any revenue from lands or rights vested in teh President under this section or derived under subsection (11) shall be collected, paid in and disbursed as provided by teh Administration o fLands Act, 1962.''

As seems clear from their plausible submissions, counsel for the defendant and co-defendants wer apparently influenced in their view by the magic works ``vested in the President in tust fofr the stools concerned'' used in the section and were thus induced to opine that the Act had in effect taken away the tradition-clothed powers of our chiefs over stool lands. They submitted in concert that only the President could institute proceedings, as trustee, on behalf of the stools concerned. that there has been in the pre- and immediate post-independence decades, a sustained legislative incursion into the traditional powers of our chifes over their stool lands needs hardly be over-emphasised. The policy rationalel assignable to the piecemeal legislative nibbling of the authority of our chiefs ahs been the compelling need to ensure efficient administration of stool lands for the public benefit because land ahs ever been and still is the fulcrum to our economic survival. IT seems therefor enecessary to thorw a searchlight on the amplituted of the relevant statues and caase law in order [498] properly to appriase thei impact and effect on teh traditional authority of our stools.

First in the series was the local Government Ordinance, Cap. 64 (1951 Rev.), ss. 72 and 75 of which vested the management of stool lands in the urban or local councsil and insisted upon teh concurrence of these councils in teh disposal of stool lands. In Ofori Attah II v. Mensah (1957) 3 W.A.L.R. 32 at pp. 34-35, Ollenu J. (as he then was) said:

``In my opinion the powers of management of stoollands given to local giovernment bodies by statue

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Josh DuBois 2004-12-01