Government has dissociated itself from the demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the action was executed by a private developer.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the Deputy Minister, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, stated that “government has got no hand in whatever the developer is doing.”
On Tuesday, North Tongu MP accused some personnel from the Cantonments Police Station, which he described as deviants were responsible for perpetrating the act.
The MP made this known on his Facebook page on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, adding that the Honorary Consul, Nicolaas C.M. van Staalduinen was also assaulted in his effort to restrain them.
Experts have opined that the operation constitutes a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
But the Foreign Affairs Ministry insisted that all processes so far to secure the parcel of land for the foreign mission have proven futile.
The Embassy is said to have leased the property from the late Theophilus Kofi Leighton in February 1, 1979 and subsequently extended for 50 more years from 1983 during which the embassy paid 1 million old Cedis with the option of renewal for another 50 years.
The lease expires in 2033, per the Ministry’s statement.
Providing clarity on the matter, Mr Apramtwum-Sarpong explained that “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.”
It has been a subject of litigation in which the Supreme Court ruled against Kofi Leighton. However, his successor, despite the decision is said to have sold the lease to the private developer.
But the Ministry said the private developer is yet to heed calls from authorities to stop building on the land.
He added that the Ministry has invited the Attorney-General to take action on the development and prevent any encroachment.
“The Ministry has also formally notified the Minister for Justice and Attorney General to take appropriate action on the encroachment on the subject property,” Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong added.
Find below the full statement from the ministry
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE DEMOLITION OF THE BULGARIAN EMBASSY
The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has been drawn to an issue that appeared on social media on 16th March, 2022 regarding the demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra.
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, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court’s decision upon appeal.
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.
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