*On demolition of Bulgarian Embassy
Story: Reuben SACKEY
The Minority in Parliament has asked for the full report on the demolition of Bulgarian Embassy in Accra.
According to the Minority the government wanted to shield state officials who were involved in the demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy.
A statement issued and signed by North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP) who is also Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa on Tuesday May 17, 2022 reacting to the report issued by the Sole Inquirer who was commissioned to look into the matter, said apart from confirming that the Bulgarian Embassy was illegally demolished under their watch, the government’s statement was a preposterous attempt to shield state officials who had done great damage to the country’s image in the comity of nations.
The report recommended the sanctioning of the private developer, Jojo Hagan, who allegedly carried out the destruction of the Embassy’s building.
In the view of the Inquirer, the developer did not “follow due process” in the demolition.
Portions of his report said “Mr. Jojo Hagan should be sanctioned for not following due process in the eviction of the alleged trespassers and the demolition of the building and should be made to compensate the Bulgarian Embassy.”
It is recalled that following the demolition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration distanced itself from the development.
A Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, said at a press conference that “Government has got no hand in whatever the developer is doing.”
“The Ministry wishes to seize this opportunity to set the records straight on the property in question and the circumstances of the demolition.
“The Bulgarian Embassy leased the subject property from the late Theophilus Kofi Leighton in 1st February 1979, which lease was extended from 1983 for fifty (50) years for which an amount of One Million Old Ghana Cedis was paid by the Embassy with the option of renewal for another fifty (50) years. The lease expires in 2033.
“Upon the demise of the landlord, the Administrator of the Estate of the late Kofi Leighton attempted to forcefully repossess the property over alleged non-payment of rent arrears by the Bulgaria Embassy notwithstanding the latter’s full payment for the lease to the late Leighton.
“Mindful of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 concerning host states’ obligation to the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions, the Ministry summoned the parties to a meeting for an amicable settlement of the matter.
“Dissatisfied with the conciliatory approach of the Ministry at resolving the issue, the Administrator of the Estate of the late Leighton went to the High Court with a writ for declaration of title to the property housing the Bulgarian Embassy; payment of accumulated rent arrears; and order for ejection and recovery of possession of the property. Part of those reliefs was granted by the High Court. However, upon appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court’s decision.
“The case traveled all the way to the Supreme Court. In its judgment, the Apex Court reaffirmed the holdings of the Appeal Court, dated 21st July 2011, which overturned the decision of the High Court and affirmed the right of the Bulgarian Embassy in the leased property.
“The above judgment of the Supreme Court notwithstanding, the Successor of the late Leighton sold the leased property to a private developer, who later encroached on it. “Still committed to its obligations under public international law, the Ministry, upon being informed of the encroachment of the Bulgarian Embassy, invited the parties and their lawyers to a series of meetings in January this year which were aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
“At those meetings, the Ministry referred the trespasser to the ruling of the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the right of the Embassy in the unexpired residue of its lease. The parties were also encouraged to reach a mutually agreed settlement on the reimbursement of the amount of the residue of lease due to the Bulgarian Mission.
“The Ministry has also formally notified the Minister for Justice and Attorney General to take appropriate action on the encroachment on the subject property.”
The Minroty’s statement reacting to the report said “The Lands and Natural Resources Minister’s statement on the infamous Bulgarian Embassy demolishing, regrettably, has all the qualities of a farcical cover-up and whitewash which confirms the suspicion we have always had based on government’s opaque conduct in this sordid affair of monumental international embarrassment.
“Apart from confirming that the Bulgarian Embassy was illegally demolished under their watch, the government’s statement is a preposterous attempt to shield state officials who have done great damage to our country’s image in the comity of nations.”