Ameoda vs. Pordier & Ameoda v. Forzi & Others (Consolidated)  GLR 479
The plaintiff-appellant, Ameoda, instituted individual actions against the respondents, Pordier and Forzi, to recover possession of lands he claims to be his family property. The suits were consolidated. According to the appellant, his ancestors gave land to the ancestors of the respondents to rear cattle, and it was agreed that they would give a cow to his ancestors as consideration for being allowed to use the land. The cows were not given, and the appellant sought to enforce the agreement against the respondents.
The respondents, however, contended that such an agreement could not have been made because the lands in question belonged to the Ningo Stool and not the appellant’s family. They further contended that their ancestors occupied the lands as subjects of the stool.
As the title to the land became an issue, the Ningo Stool, represented by the Paramount Chief Nene Aguda, was made a party to the suit to establish if the stool owned the lands claimed by the appellant to be his family lands.
At the trial court, Ollennu J. concluded that "All lands in Ningo are Ningo stool lands" and "that the land now in dispute is definitely part of Ningo stool land". The plaintiff-appellant appealed on the grounds that the judgement was against the weight of the evidence.
Whether all Ningo lands are stool lands or Ningo lands are owned by various Ningo families?
Arguments of the Appellant:
Ningo lands are owned by various Ningo families, not the stool. The lands in the present case are owned by the appellant’s family.
In the present case, it is difficult to weigh the evidence as it was only provided by the appellant and none was provided by the paramount chief of Ningo. Their lordships then examined the validity of various reasons, which led the trial judge to conclude that Ningo lands belonged to the Ningo stool.
First, Ollennu J (correctly) stated that per Ohimen v. Adjei (1957) 2 W.A.L.R. 275 , a stool may acquire land upon "discovery of unoccupied land by hunters or pioneers of a stool and settlement thereon by the stool and its subjects." In the present case, however, there is no evidence to show that Ningo was discovered by the hunters of a stool and that subjects of that stool thereafter settled on that land and thereby stamped it with the character of stool land.
Second, Ollennu J. believed that the protection offered by the chief of Ningo over the lands in Ningo meant the Ningo stool had an interest in those lands. Apaloo J.A., however, believes that a chief to whom allegiance is owed is ordinarily expected to marshal his subjects to protect their lands. When a chief does this, it does not necessarily mean the stool has a beneficial interest in the land.
Third, Ollennu J. recounted that at one point, the government was about to acquire part of Ningo land, and the grant was made by the Ningo stool and not by the families. Apaloo J.A., however, clarified that the grant was made with the consent and concurrence of the heads of the various families.
One of the pieces of evidence submitted by the appellant that properly establishes that the Ningo stool is not the owner of Ningo lands was the letter written by Mantse Dzanma to the Secretary for Native Affairs. Per Apaloo J.A.,
It cannot be supposed that the first headchief of Ningo was unaware that all Ningo lands belong to himself qua chief. Yet he was seeking authority to take from the owners land which by his description must be vacant land. It seems to me to offend against reason for a chief to wish to buy or lend from others what belongs to himself. Common sense strongly suggests that the chief of Ningo wrote in that manner, because he well knew that those lands belong to persons other than his stool.
In addition, studies conducted by Messrs. Pogucki and Jackson on areas that included Ningo concluded that the stool has no proprietary interest in the land within its territories.
Given that the lands in Ningo do not belong to the Stool, and "since it is a principle of customary law that every inch of land in this country is owned by a stool, tribe, family, or individual", the evidence submitted by the appellant must be examined to determine if his family owns the land. The evidence submitted by the appellant convinces the court that the land is owned by his family, and the trial judge should have accordingly held in his favour.
Having declared that the appellant’s family owned the lands in dispute, their lordships, turning to the respondents, noted that the respondents’ ancestors were granted permission by the appellant’s to use the land, and
By virtue of the permission which was granted to the respondents’ predecessors, the latter and after them, their successors, were entitled to live on the Akwaaba and Tekpanya lands as long as they continued to acknowledge the title of the appellant’s family. Should they at any time dispute it, the appellant’s family will be within their customary rights to revoke their licences and eject them. In the event of their continuing to remain on the land after the revocation of their licences, they would become, in the eyes of customary law, trespassers, and would be liable in damages at the suit of the appellant’s family:
In the present case, the respondents, as licensees of the appellant, have disputed the title of the appellant’s family to the land, and he is accordingly justified in ejecting them from the land.
1. The allodial interest in a land can be owned by the stool, tribe, family, or individual.
2. In the present case, the families own allodial interests in lands in Ningo.
3. When a licensee denies the title of his licensor, the licensor is entitled to eject him.
4. A stool may only have a jurisdictional interest in land within its territory, while sub-communities, families, or individuals own the proprietary interest in those lands.