IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
TAMALE - A.D 2017
GUO-NAA SANYE, MUO-NAA KAWMINE-NYE AND KANTEI MAALO-DUONG - (Plaintiffs/Appellants)
ASUMA GEWURA, SUMAILA ABAKORO, JEBUNI BADDUO, GUO-NAA MEBO AND MWINI MAHAMA - (Defendants/Respondents)
DATE: 18TH JULY, 2017
CIVIL APPEAL NO: H1/1/2017
JUDGES: DENNIS ADJEI JA (PRESIDING), AVRIL LOVELACE-JOHNSON JA, BARBARA ACKAH-YENSU (MS) JA
IBRAHIM MAHAMA FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS
ROCKSON AKUGRE FOR DEFENDANTS/RESPONDENTS
BARBARA ACKAH-YENSU (Ms) JA
This is an appeal against the judgment of the High Court, Wa delivered on 3rd May 2016. The Plaintiffs/Appellants (referred to hereafter as the Appellants), pray this Court to reverse the judgment of the trial Court.
These are the matters that have given rise to the instant appeal.
The Appellants commenced an action on 29th October 2013 against Respondents claiming inter alia a declaration of title to the disputed lands; injunction to restrain the Respondents from the said land, and also; an order for recovery of all lands Respondents had granted to Developers. The Appellants brought the action on their own behalf and on behalf of Guo Skin. The supporting facts of the Appellants claim was that their ancestor, Dakpang, was the first to settle on the land, and also became the first Chief of Guo land.
The Respondents vehemently opposed the action denying the title of the Appellants to the land and challenged the capacity of the Appellants to bring the action. They made a counterclaim inter alia for a declaration of title to the lands which they referred to as Guo Katume family land; perpetual injunction, and; recovery of possession. The supporting facts of the Respondents are that their “ancestor who was a hunter by name Tokpara was the first settler on the land”. When the ancestor of the Appellants came to the land, Tokpara gave the administration of the land or chieftaincy to Dakpangu whilst retaining his control of the land through the performance of rituals.
The Appellants referred to themselves as the royals whilst the Respondents referred to themselves as the Tindaamba or first settlers. Hence, this case is a conflict between two sections of the same community called Guo.
At the end of the trial, the learned trial Judge held as follows:
“Exhibits 1 and 2 being instruments affecting have all been stamped and registered and have therefore passed the statutory test. I think I can conveniently rely on them as indications of the fact that the defendants are allodial owners of Guo land by reason of being the first settlers and that under the prevailing customary law and usages, title to Guo land is vested in the defendants’ Katumi family or clan. And I so find and hold………….
To this end, the Plaintiff’s claims against the Defendants fail……
I think with the exception of the claim for damages, there is overwhelming evidence to grant the other reliefs. Consequently, the defendants succeed in their counter-claim for declaration of title to and recovery of possession of Guo-Katumi land and perpetual injunction. These reliefs are therefore granted”.
It is against this judgment that the present appeal has been brought. The Appellants filed ten (10) grounds of appeal which we set out in extenso:
“That the learned judge made a grave error of law when he held that in spite of statutory law that grants the 1st Plaintiff Guo-Na, the occupant of Guo Skin capacity to sue for his skin land, he must also prove that custom clothes him the right to sue the Defendants for his skin land.
The learned judge made an error of law when he implicitly held that the right of an occupant of stool/skin to sue for stool/skin land [CI47 2004 Order 4 Rule (9)] is applicable only to some occupants of Stools/Skins but not applicable to all occupants of Stools/Skins.
Article 257(4) of the Constitution of Ghana and other laws of Ghana having declared the land in dispute skin land and vested it in the appropriate skin which is Guo Skin, the trial judge was in error of law when he gave judgment in favour of the Defendants who claimed the said land as family land.
The learned judge erred in law when he resurrected Angu v Attah  which is long dead and buried by section 55 of the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459) which he failed to comply with and wrongly took the evidence of DW2 to replace the provision of Section 55 (5) of the Courts Act (Act 459).
The learned judge was wrong in law and fact when he failed to consider the written submission of the lawyer for the Plaintiffs that the court should give judgment to the Plaintiffs for the failure of the defendants to traverse the Plaintiffs claim and he also erred in law and fact when he did not examine and assess the evidence of the parties, particularly their evidence of root of title and yet he dismissed the claims of Plaintiffs and gave judgment to the Defendants for their counterclaim which in the first place is not justifiable and in the second place does not comply with the principles and rules governing a counterclaim for a declaration of title to land.
The learned Judge is wrong when he held that both parties are ad idem on the identity of the land in issue when there was no evidence at the trial that Guo land which the Plaintiffs claim is the same as Guo-Katume land which the Defendants claim.
The learned Judge erred in law when he relied on preposterous and unreliable evidence of DW 2 who was economical with the truth and highly evasive of questions put to him and held that some royals of Dakpanyiri namely Dontanga, Passe, Kong, Duose own land while other royals of Dakpanyiri namely Guo are not land owners when all members of Dakpanyiri are royals and are occupying land acquired by Dakpang their common ancestor.
The learned judge having found that the evidence of DW2 is impeccable and heavily relied on it he erred in law when he granted Guo land to the Defendants who are not members of Dakpanyiri and in spite of the fact that Dw2 told the Court that Guo land belongs to Dakpanyiri.
The admission by the 2nd Defendant that the word ‘tindana’ does not mean owner of land is too categorical to be open to any interpretation by the trial judge. Consequently, the learned trial judge erred in law when he held that ‘tindanas’ and not royals are the owners of Guo land.
The judgment of the High Court is perversed and is against overwhelming weight of evidence and law adduced or presented at the trial by Plaintiffs/Appellants and the Defendants/Respondents”
The Respondents were given the opportunity to contest the appeal but they did not file their written submissions in response to the Appellants’. The Respondents by Rule 20 (8) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 1997, C.I.19 cannot be heard except as to the question of costs. Nonetheless since, an appeal is by way of a rehearing, and raises matters of law and facts, it is for this Court to decide from the Record of Appeal whether or not to allow the appeal having regard to the evidence on the record. Submissions from Counsel for the parties only assist the Court in this regard. There is therefore no other disadvantage to the Respondent other than that stated in the said rule 20 (8) of C.I.19.
We will now look at the grounds of appeal filed by the Appellant. Regarding grounds 5 and 7, we find that the wording of these grounds offend Rule 8 (5) of the Court of Appeal Rules, C.1.19. The rule requires that a ground of appeal shall be concise and shall not be argumentative nor narrative. It reads as follows:
“8(5) the grounds of appeal shall set out concisely and under distinct heads the grounds upon which the appellant intends to rely at the hearing of the appeal without any argument or narrative and shall be numbered consecutively.”
In our view, the said grounds 5 and 7 are argumentative and/or narrative. We shall therefore strike them out as inadmissible and unarguable.
Now to the rest of the grounds. Grounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 essentially fault the trial Judge for finding that the fact that 1st Plaintiff was the Guo-Naa did not necessarily clothe him with capacity to sue to recover Guo lands. The Appellant is essentially complaining in grounds 6, 8, 9 and 10 that the judgment is wrong and is against overwhelming weight of evidence adduced at the trial and the law. We will conveniently consider grounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 together as, in our opinion, they are inextricably linked; a finding on one will have bearing on the other. This will become more apparent as we go on.
We will therefore consider this appeal under the omnibus ground of appeal; that the judgment is against the weight of evidence. In so doing we are mindful of the fact that the grounds of appeal filed by the Appellants cover both issues of law and fact. Contrary to the decision in Brown vrs Quarshigah [2003-2004] SCGLR 930, in which case the Supreme Court held that a person who intends to rely on the omnibus ground should not be permitted to argue points of law, the apex Court in the case of Attorney General vrs Faroe Atlantic Co. Ltd [2005-2006] SCGLR 271 held that the omnibus ground of appeal is not limited to exclusive issues of fact. The Court speaking through Georgina Wood JSC (as she then was) at page 308 held thus:
“But, in my opinion, the argument that this Constitutional issue and for that matter a legal issue cannot be addressed under an omnibus ground is untenable. It seems to me that in strictness, this common ground of appeal is one of law, for in essence, what it means, inter alia is that having regard to the facts available, the conclusion reached, which invariably is the legal result drawn from the concluded facts is incorrect. The general ground of appeal is therefore not limited exclusively to issues of fact. Legal issues are within its purview”.
The trial Judge in concluding his Judgment stated that “in the end, I have no hesitation to conclude that the defendants have successfully challenged the plaintiffs’ capacity to take out the present action against them. Consequently, I hereby find and hold that the plaintiffs do not have to the requisite capacity as Royals of Guo to institute an action against the Katume Clan/family of Guo who are the Tindaanas in respect of Guo lands”. And as he rightly opined: “This really ought to end the matter as far as the Plaintiffs’ claims are concerned”. He nonetheless continued “to go on further and consider the other reliefs in addition to the defendants’ counter-claim”.
In our view, it was unnecessary for the learned trial Judge to have gone on further to consider the other reliefs after making the determination that the Plaintiffs did not have the requisite capacity to institute the action. He ought to have just considered the Respondents counter claim.
As aforesaid, Counsel for the Appellants contends that the trial Judge erred when he held that the Appellants had no capacity to sue on behalf of Guo Skin lands. Counsel submitted that the right to litigate on behalf of skin/stool lands is vested absolutely in chiefs and therefore as the Chief of Guo, 1st Plaintiff had the capacity to sue contrary to the finding made by the trial Judge. Counsel relied on Order 4 Rule 9 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) rules (C.I.47) and made reference to the case of Bukuruwa Stool vrs Kumawu Stool  1 GLR 353. Counsel thus argued that the authorities do not support the view of the trial Court. In addition to these authorities, he made reference to Article 267 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. That, even if there was Wala custom which conflicts with the rights of a chief to sue as stated in Order 4 Rule 9 of C.I.47 and Article 267 (1), that custom must make way for the said authorities.
Article 267 (1) of the Constitution provides thus: “All Stool lands in Ghana shall vest in the appropriate stool on behalf of, and in trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage”. Order 4 R.9(1) of C.I.47 also states that “the occupant of stool or skin or where the stool or skin is vacant, the regent or caretaker of that stool or skin may sue and be sued on behalf of or as representing the stool or skin”.
From the above provisions, where it is proven that the land belongs to a whole community, the chiefs, as representatives of the people, are the proper persons to sue on behalf of the people regarding the land. Where the land belongs to the stool, the chiefs are the proper persons to sue on behalf of the stool. Article 267 (1) talks about stool lands being vested in the appropriate stool in accordance with the customary law and usage. It presupposes therefore that where it is proven by custom or otherwise that land, although being used for the benefit of a whole community belongs to a family or clan or an individual, the chief of that community would not be the proper person to litigate on that land because it is not stool land. The answer to the question whether the Appellants have capacity to sue to recover Guo Skin lands will therefore hinge on whether the lands in dispute are Guo-Skin lands or the lands belong to individual clans or families.
In the case Yorkwa vrs Duah [1992-93] GBR 278 the Court of Appeal opined thus: “The defendant’s denial of the plaintiff’s capacity to sue or capacity in which defendant is sued would throw the burden of proof of capacity onto the plaintiff. The issue of capacity so arising may be determined before or at the trial, and in any case before the merits”.
The Respondents in their defence challenged the capacity of the Appellants to institute the action because they (the Appellants) were not vested with the Guo lands. The Respondents contended that the proper persons to bring such an action were the Dorimon Naa, the Paramount Chief of Dorimon Traditional Area; Pembu, the eldest Prince of Guo, and; the Dong-yong of Dontanga. The burden therefore fell on the Appellants to prove that they were indeed clothed with capacity to sue on behalf of Guo lands.
Counsel for the Appellants argued in his written submissions that Section 31 of the Administration of Lands Act 1962 (Act 123) provided a definition of Stool lands and argued that Act 123 had declared all lands in the Northern and Upper Regions Skin lands except lands that were vested in the President. He argued further that Executive Instrument 1963 (E.I.332) declared all lands in the Wa Local Council as skin land and by extension Guo lands which were located in the Wa Area are skin lands. The Guo lands therefore are vested in the 1st Appellant who is the Chief of Guo. Furthermore, before the enactment of Executive Instrument, 1963 (E.I.87) Stool Lands (Upper Region) Instrument, 1963, came into being, land in the Northern part of Ghana was owned by two groups of people, the skins on one part and individuals and companies on the other; who got their grant from the government. With the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution lands which were vested in the Government became vested in the appropriate skin or individuals and companies who owned the land before they were vested in the Government.
Counsel argued further that Article 567 (4) of the Constitution states that all lands in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana which were vested in the Government of Ghana as public lands ceased to be vested in the Government when the 1992 Constitution came into effect. Those lands were to belong to the appropriate skin or the owner of the land before vesting.
By Clauses (3) and (4) of Article 267 of the 1992 Constitution all lands in the Northern parts of Ghana which were vested in the Government of Ghana before the coming into force of the Constitution are not public lands and those lands upon the coming into force of the Constitution would then be vested in the previous owners of the land before being vested.
So the question which arises is; who were the original owners of the land in dispute; the skin or individuals? According to the Appellants, several hundred years ago, their ancestors acquired a piece of land commonly known as and called Guo-Skin land as the first settlers. Their ancestor who first settled on the land was called Dakpanu. They averred in their pleadings that a Report of a Committee on Ownership of Lands and the Position of Tenants in the Northern and Upper Regions confirmed that the Waala Traditional Area, allodial ownership of land is vested in the Chief (Naa) who holds it in trust for the people. However, even though Plaintiffs indicated they were going to rely on this document, they did not tender it in evidence at the trial.
The Respondents, on the other hand, contended that it was their ancestor by named Tikpara/Tokpara, a hunter, who first settled on the disputed land. From the evidence (page 247 of ROA) the name of the ancestor was really Tikpara. Tokpara, the name of a mountain, is the place where he settled. Respondents contended further that the Appellant’s ancestor, Dakpanu came and met Tikpara on the land; that, he was already in control of the land. Tikpara being the original owner of the land gave the administration of the land or chieftaincy to Dakpanu whilst retaining his control over the land through the performance of rituals. The Respondents also contended that their title to the land was confirmed by the Waa Traditional Council when the then Wa-Naa Momori Bondiri I gave them judgment after Nakore people had summoned them before the Wa-Naa. After this incident, the Respondents took an action against the Nakore people in the Circuit Court, Wa over the land.
Both Parties relied on traditional evidence to prove ownership of the land in dispute. It is trite learning that traditional evidence is resorted to when parties in a suit give conflicting historical accounts of events that relate to ownership of land, possession, occupation etc. These narratives are usually done by people who were not present when the events happened but have acquired knowledge through oral history. This in effect makes traditional evidence hearsay evidence, but it is admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule. See Section 28 and 129 of the Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323).
In evaluating traditional evidence, certain principles have been adopted by the courts to aid in the assessment of rival claims. In the case of Adjeibi Kojo vrs Bonsie  3 WALR 257, the Privy Council per Lord Denning held that:
“The most satisfactory method of testing traditional history is by examining it in the light of such more recent facts as can be established by evidence in order to establish which of two conflicting statements of tradition is more probably correct. Where there is a conflict of traditional history one side or other must be mistaken, yet both may be honest in their beliefs, for honest mistakes may occur in the course of transmission of the traditions down the generations. In such circumstances, and particularly where Native Courts below have differed, and Appeal Court must review the evidence and draw their own inferences from the established facts: demeanour of the witnesses before the trial court is little guide to the truth”.
This principle has been applied in our courts in numerous cases. So in Hilodjie vrs George and Anor [2005-2006] SCGLR 974, the apex court held that “clearly discernible principle, where there is conflict of traditional history is that the most satisfactory contemporary facts that a court should look for are undisputed acts of overt ownership or possession exercised over the disputed matter….”
Likewise, in Adwubeng vrs Domfeh [1996-97] SCGLR 660, it was held that: “In the circumstances, the resolution of the traditional evidence did not depend on the acceptance or rejection of the entire history of a party as done by the trial judge, but on the determination of which of the ancestors was first to settle at Duasi. In such a situation where it was difficult to make such a finding, the recommended approach was to have recourse to facts in recent years as established by the evidence. Thus a party could still succeed in an action for declaration of title even if his traditional evidence was rejected. In the instant case, not only did the boundary owners testify in support of the boundary the plaintiff identified, but they further testified to the plaintiff’s ownership of the disputed land. However, the defendant called no boundary owner or any witness to testify to his alleged ownership of the land in dispute. Accordingly, the plaintiff was entitled to judgment”.
In assessing rival traditional evidence, what is important therefore is to find out which of the rival versions is authenticated by acts and events within living memory, especially where such acts and events are acts of possession and ownership and title to the subject matter of the claim. For, what raises a presumption of ownership in favour of a party is not the coherence of his traditional evidence but acts of possession and ownership that he exercises over the subject-matter.
The presumption of title raised by possession and ownership now appears as Section 48 of the evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323), which:
“48(1) The things which a person possesses are presumed to be owned by him.
(2) A person who exercises acts of ownership over property is presumed to be the owner of it”.
In Majalogbe vrs Larbi  GLR 190 at 191, the Court held that:
“The plaintiff’s proof of his mere possession of land is sufficient for him to maintain trespass against anyone who cannot show a better title”.
Thus, if the occupier’s possession is disturbed by trespass or nuisance, for example, he can sue on the strength of his possession alone and he does not even have to prove his title.
The Courts have therefore held variously that recent acts of ownership and possession take precedence over mere traditional evidence. So, from the evidence on record, which of the two Parties herein have exercised recent acts of ownership over the land?
The 1st Appellant narrated their version of the history of his ancestors. No evidence was led to show recent acts of ownership. He established that the land in dispute was bounded by Zini, Aise, Dong-Tanga, Nakore and Sambo, but the Appellants did not call any of these boundary owners to buttress their claim of ownership. The 2nd Appellant also repeated the narration of events given by the 1st Appellant. The Appellants thus relied exclusively on their traditional evidence.
The Respondents, on the other hand, in addition to the traditional evidence adduced, gave evidence of recent acts of ownership and possession of the disputed land. The 1st Respondent testified that they had given out land to the University of Cape-Coast and the Wa Municipal Assembly, and that they shared the proceeds with Appellants because they are the royals.
The Paramount Chief of Dorimon Traditional Area, the Dorimon-Naa, was called as a witness by the Defendants (DW2). It is instructive to note that the Dorimon-Naa and the Appellants hail from the same family. The 1st Appellant confirmed this in his evidence; he said Dorimon-Naa was his father’s son. 1st Respondent also confirmed this under cross-examination. The Dorimon-Naa, despite being a member of Appellants’ family, testified in favour of the Respondents nonetheless. In other words DW2 testified against his own interest. In our view, his motivation for testifying in this case was most likely was to enable the Court arrive at the truth.
On page 310 of the ROA he said “I was enskinned in 1990. I was informed by my elders that the Dorimon lands, trees, human being etc belong to me. The Defendants belong to the land-owning Tindaanas. The Plaintiffs are royals. They do not own the land”.
He testified further thus: “We have two types of Tindaamas. One owns land whereas the other does not at Dorimon Traditional Area. The Tinadaamas who do not own land usually assist the Tindaamas who own the land in some traditional activities such as pacification of the earth goddess and sacrifices. This does not make them landowners. The land owning Tindaamas own the land. They settled all others on the land such as the Tindaanas who do not own the land”. [page 310 of ROA].
He also testified that he made a request to the Respondents to sell some of the lands and purchase a motor bike for the 1st Appellant. This piece of evidence corroborated evidence adduced by the Respondent that when they sold some of the land they gave the 1st Appellant money to buy a motor bike. The witness also confirmed that he was aware the Respondents had sold portions of the land to the University of Cape Coast and the University had presented cola to him.
In our opinion therefore, the Respondents satisfied the principles laid down in Adjeibi Kojo vrs Bonsie (supra). They were able to prove recent acts of possession and ownership. These sales of portions of the land in dispute is sufficient act of possession and ownership, unless the Appellant proved a better title.
The trial Judge wrong however, and would we be wrong therefore if we relied on the evidence of DW2 in arriving at a conclusion, as submitted by Counsel for the Appellants? It is the argument of Counsel for the Appellants that the learned trial Judge erred in law because he resurrected Angu vrs. Attah P. C. 43 which is long dead and buried by Section 55 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459) which he failed to comply with and wrongly took the evidence of DW2 to replace the said provision.
He stated thus:
“I find his evidence to be impeccable and relevant on the issue. His position as Dorimon Naa (Paramount Chief) is no mean a position in our social settings and he was very emphatic with his evidence. There is no argument that DW2 is a Paramount Chief. Throughout the entire proceedings the plaintiff conceded that he had passed the test of nomination, selection, election and enskinment as the Doriman-Naa in accordance with the relevant customary law and usages pertaining to the Doriman Traditional Area under which is Guo. Consequently, as the Doriman-Naa, there is no dispute that he is the epitome and embodiment of the customary law and usages in the area.”
Counsel’s argument is that DW2 was not called as an expert witness by the Court, rather he was called by the Respondents to give evidence on their behalf and as such he was not a competent neutral person to give evidence to prove the existence of Guo custom.
What Counsel was referring to is that about a hundred years ago it was the law of the Gold Coast that a party in civil litigation who relied on customary law must first plead it and prove it as a fact before he could succeed. Courts were obliged to comply with the decision of the Privy Council in Angu vrs Attah where it was held that;
“(A rule of customary) has to be proved in the first instance by calling witnesses acquainted with the native customs until the particular customs have by frequent proof in the courts, become so notorious that the courts will take judicial notice of them.”
With the enactment of the Courts Act of 1960 (C. A. 9), however, there was a departure from the said decision. Instead of regarding customary law as a fact to be proved by a litigant who relied on it, customary law was accepted as law. This provision has been repeated in Section 55 of the new Courts Act of 1993 (Act 459).
Counsel submitted therefore that in the instant case, the trial Judge was required, if there was a question of customary law before him, to treat it first as a question of law not a question of fact. And then if he had any doubt about the existence or content of the rule of customary law, he had to adjourn the hearing of the case to invite competent witnesses to testify as to the customary law. Counsel also submitted that the trial Judge was required under the said provisions of the Courts Act to refer any customary law of which he was in doubt to either the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs or Doriman Traditional Council to present him with a written opinion.
“It was clear from the language of Section 50 of the Courts Act 1971 (Act 372), that it was only in the circumstances as stated in Section 50 (2) that would become necessary; and since by Section 50 (1), the question as to the existence or content of any rule of customary law as one of law, the court was the final arbiter and was not bound to follow the expert opinion.” Section 50(2) of Act 372 is in pari material with Section 55(2) of Act 459.
The learned trial Judge indicated in his judgment (page 331 of ROA) that he was relying on Angu vrs Attah (supra) to ascertain the content of Guo customary law on land. The trial Judge nonetheless stated that “very often, we say that the law is in the bosom of the Judge and that customary law is no exception as contained in Section 55 of the Courts Act, 1963 (Act 459)”.
In as much as we agree with Counsel for the Appellants that the rule in Angu vrs Attah is no longer good law, we are of the opinion that the critical issue in this case was not “what the Wala custom regarding the capacity of a chief to sue for his skin land” as contended by Counsel in his written submissions, but whether or not the Guo-Naa had capacity to sell Guo lands. In this regard, the reliance of the trial Judge on the outmoded rule in Angu vrs Attah is of no moment, and no miscarriage of justice has been occasioned.
Counsel for the Appellants himself opined in his written submissions that “the only issue of customary rule raised at the trial of this case was whether performance of purification rites on land is a valid root of title under Ghanaian customary law… At the trial, there was no issue of customary law raised on the capacity of the Plaintiffs.
The issue was simply the capacity of the Plaintiffs to institute the action; and the Plaintiffs established their capacity under C.I.47 Order 4 rule 9 (1). Since there was no issue on the customary capacity of the Plaintiffs to institute the action the learned trial Judge erred in purporting to rely on that issue, which in fact is non-existent in Wala customary law”.
This should put the matter to rest.
The evidence of 1st Defendant (page 269 of ROA) is that “the Plaintiffs were not the first settlers on the land. They came to meet my ancestor already settled on the land. According to our history, the Plaintiff’s ancestor was running away from the chieftaincy dispute at Yendi. So he came to meet my ancestors on the land. Our ancestors settled him on the land and asked him to take care of the chieftaincy issues at the place, whereas our ancestors would become the Tindaamas”.
The Respondents therefore did not make any categorical statement that their ancestor relinquished the land to Plaintiff’s ancestor as is being urged by Counsel. As aforesaid, the Parties relied on traditional evidence to prove ownership. The Respondents exhibited lease agreements duly signed between their family and the University of Cape Coast and one with Wadih Tanios Ghanem. They also led evidence that they had leased portions of the land to the Wa Municipal Assembly and upon request by the Dorimon-Naa had used some of the proceeds of the sale to purchase a bike for the 1st Appellant so he could use it to attend Council meetings. The Dorimon-Naa did not ask the Appellants to sell portions of the land but rather asked the Respondents to do so. Both the 1st Respondent and the Dorimon-Naa testified that after selling the land, Respondents purchased bikes for the 1st Appellant and the Siriyi-Naa. It is our view as aforesaid, that these definitely are recent acts of ownership and possession which were rightly relied on by the learned trial Judge to arrive at the conclusion that the Respondents were the rightful owners of the land in dispute.
Having already found that Guo lands belong to the family of the Respondents, we find that Guo lands which belonged to the Respondents before they were vested in the Government would now vest in the Respondents. Indeed, a careful reading of E.I.87 shows that it refers to stool (Skin lands). It presupposes therefore that there were lands in the Northern part of the country which were not stool lands but were still vested in the Government before the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution. The suggestion by the Appellants that no families or clans own land in the Northern and Upper Regions can therefore not be the correct position of the law.
In conclusion, we find that the trial Judge made no error when he held that the Appellants have no capacity to sue to recover Guo lands because Guo lands are not skin lands but belong to the Respondents as Tindaanas of Guo. In the circumstances the appeal fails and the Judgment of the trial Court dated 3rd May 2016 is hereby affirmed.