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Ghana: 115-Year-Old Woman In Prison   
 
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10-Feb-2010  
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A High Court in the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua, on January 27 this year sentenced a 115-year old woman into prison for contempt of court in a protracted litigation over inheritance of a family property dating back to 1945.

The woman Madam Abena Fatima (plaintiff), according to her son Kwame Asumeng, was jailed two months after the High Court and Appeals Court had ruled against her since 2002 to quit her father's house because the property in question had been entered in favour of her paternal family members.

Mr. Asumeng said that her mother had told the Koforidua High Court 'One' presided over by Justice Sorobawo, when she was summoned for her intransigent stance to heed to the court's decision to vacate the house. "She told the court that she had nowhere to live and moreover, the house she currently lives in belongs to her late father and was even prepared to go to prison in her defence," the son quoted her mother as saying.

He said her mother's remark and conduct were considered derogatory to the court and was consequently sentenced to two months imprisonment, saying "we did not have a counsel at court on that day to plead on her (old woman’s) behalf”.

A copy of the High court ruling on the case made available to The New Crusading Guide dated 24th January, 2002 and signed by his Lordship Justice K.A. Acquaye, noted that the Plaintiff Madam Abena Fatima and the defendants Kwasi Appiah Twum and Akua Aduako are all residents of Koforidua.

The plaintiff had pleaded in her statement to the court that her late father and mother jointly built house F.7 at Odwaa near Jackson Park in Koforidua. She said her father later incurred a debt and when his house was about to be sold in a public action her mother was able to raise a loan to pay off the debt prompting his father to expressed gratitude to his wife by arranging a meeting with his maternal family and gave a plot of land with cement blocks to them and the entire building to his wife and children.

The plaintiff named some of the witnesses present at the meeting and stated that they were all dead. She testified further that there was a document to proof her late father's decision but his customary successor after his (father’s) death, lured her mother and collected the document to used it to renovate the house which he had refused to return it ever since.

The plaintiff continued that her father’s successor (Kwasi Appiah Twum ) who was the first defendant in the case allocated a room to his elder brother and rented another room and a store room to tenants. She added that the piece of land and blocks that were bequeathed to her father's family had already been sold whilst the second defendant (Akua Aduako) had built a new room on a land attached to the house despite protests to insist that the house was a parting gift to her late mother and that the defendant cannot arbitrary succeed to it as their family property.

But the defendants who are both nephew and nice respectively to the Plaintiff's father denied any gift to the plaintiff mother. The first defendant in his counterclaim rejected the assertion by plaintiff that the house was a joint property of her mother and father, contending that it was a self acquired property of the plaintiff father.

The defendant testified that the plot on which the house in contention stands was a replacement to his family when a family house was demolished to pave way for the construction of the Koforidua Jackson's Park. He said when his uncle died his wife (plaintiff mother) informed him that the deceased was indebted to her 92 pounds (in those days) for which her husband had pledged the house to her in return.

According to the defendant he paid I02 pounds including an interest of 10 pounds to the plaintiff's mother, and demanded that two of her children including the plaintiff be given two rooms in the house. The defendant also stated that he had been paying property rates in the name of his deceased uncle and exhibited to the court evidence of some receipts to that effect. He denied the existence of any deed of gift and explained in addition that the land that was attached to the house was sold purposely to raise money to pay the claims by the plaintiff's mother.

The court in its ruling stated that the evidence on record to prove the disputed house as gift by the plaintiff's father to her mother and children was missing. The court rejected the evidence of the plaintiff because it failed to prove the essential ingredients of a valid customary gift and on the other hand, accepted defendant’s evidence to support their claims that they (defendants) had been in possession of the house since the death of the plaintiff's father in 1945.
 
 
Source: New Crusading Guide/Ghana
 
 

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