SSNIT entangled in $5.4m land deal gone bad

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) is locked in a legal battle to retrieve an amount of $5,450,000.00 it invested in a land deal that has gone bad.

SSNIT is the government agency entrusted with workers’ pension.

SSNIT had purchased the land from Premier Portfolio Limited (PPL).

According to court sources, SSNIT paid for the 1.52-acre land, but couldn’t possess it, because the land was later plotted for and transferred to its original owner after court actions. The land is now held by Mr. Ernest Nunoo, an estate developer, since December 2016.

SSNIT’s main source of income is the social security contributions of Ghanaian workers.

Even though the management of SSNIT claim they did due diligence in the purchase of the parcel of land before making payment to the directors of PPL, the Trust is in court seeking to recover the money in the failed transaction.

SSNIT’s court action is against PPL and its directors as well as shareholders, House of Duffour Assets (HODA), Lands Commission (LC), and others. 

Meanwhile, SSNIT appears to be facing a double agony, as Mr. Nunoo had earlier taken the organisation to court, together with the LC and PPL over the same land.

Even though the management of SSNIT claim they did due diligence in the purchase of the parcel of land before making payment to the directors of PPL, the Trust is in court seeking to recover the money in the failed transaction.

At the initiation of the legal tussle, SSNIT couldn’t serve the defendants. After several failed attempts to serve the directors and shareholders of PPL with the court summons, SSNIT decided to do a substituted service, which was published in the Daily Graphic of Thursday, February 9, 2023. However, apart from the LC and its assigns who have been present at the court since then, the others from PPL are yet to make an appearance in court.

In January 2016, SSNIT and PPL signed the Deed of Assignment on the land in contention that turned out to belong to someone else.

Interestingly, the Deed of Assignment for the transaction has March 3, 2016 as the date it took effect, but the stamp from the GM Investment & Dev. Division of SSNIT has January 25, 2016. It was signed and sealed by Ernest Thompson, Director-General of SSNIT and witnessed by Peter Hayibor, its General Counsel.

The Deed signed by SSNIT.
The Deed signed by SSNIT.

“Search conducted at the Lands Commission dated January 2016, indicates that the last transaction on the said land was a transfer from the government of Ghana to PPL per lease dated June 12, 2014.” This was the response SSNIT gave when its attention was drawn to the fact that at the time SSNIT was purchasing the land, its search at the LC showed that there was a noted proposal in favour of Mr. Ernest & Mrs. Mavis Nunoo, and yet SSNIT went ahead to procure the land.

Also, when this reporter tried to verify whether SSNIT went through the Land Valuation Board to ascertain the actual price for the land, the response was: “SSNIT requested the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited to conduct a valuation of the land, and that, the outcome of the valuation survey was communicated to Management.”

According to them, the report stated that it was reasonable to adopt $4,000,000.00 per acre, an indication that, SSNIT actually did a good job by purchasing the 1.52-acre-land at $5,450,000.00.

It will be recalled that Ernest Nunoo, the owner of the land had indicated that the LC allegedly sold/transferred it to PPL without his knowledge and consent – and went ahead to sue the LC in court for the latter’s failure to grant lease and for that matter, plot the land adjacent to the SSNIT Guest House opposite the Police Headquarters and obtained judgement in his favour.

This reporter on December 5, 2016 reported that the litigated land, which was wrongly transferred by officials of the LC to PPL, also exchanged ownership from the latter to SSNIT and the move created tension between SSNIT and Mr. Nunoo, who legally acquired the land from the Osu Stool.

Following the publication that the LC had wrongly sold/transferred the land belonging to the estate developer to PPL without his knowledge and consent, the LC then plotted the said land in contention for Mr. Nunoo in December 2016.

After the land was plotted for Mr. Nunoo, SSNIT decided to battle it out with PPL and its associated directors in court to reclaim the money it had paid – eight years ago.

A page of the Deed signed by SSNIT that shows the amount of money paid for the land.
The document that indicates the deal on the land between the Osu Stool and Mr Ernest Nunoo.

Mr. Nunoo who acquired the lease from the Osu Stool on October 12, 2004, presented the land documents for registration at the LC, and the Commission accepted the document and started the registration process by indicating in the data that Mr. Nunoo was registering the land, yet without any notice to him, the LC went ahead and leased the land to PPL.

Even though, it has been shown after investigations that PPL acquired the land from the State on June 12, 2014 the deal documents were stamped with No. LVD 12649A in 2011 and a land title certificate dated January 6, 2015.

Efforts to trace the location of PPL or contact its listed directors was unsuccessful. The only contact number on the registration of the PPL belongs to the Managing Partner of an audit firm, Eddie Nikoi Accounting Consultancy, who denied any knowledge of PPL.

Meanwhile, a search at the LC showed that despite the fact that Mr. Nunoo’s lease was dated on October 6, 2008, the Commission went ahead to lease it again to PPL for 50 years, commencing on January 1, 2014, and it was based on that action that PPL also transferred the said land to SSNIT with the consent of the then Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission, after SSNIT had paid $5.45 million.

Additionally, it emerged that PPL did not pay capital gains tax on the transaction, and further checks at the Legon branch of the Ghana Revenue Authority at the time, where PPL was registered, showed that PPL was registered in 2011, and that for all this time, no tax records on PPL existed.

By Innocent Samuel Appiah

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