Former first lady and founder of the National Democratic Party, Nana Konadu, was last Friday dealt a heavy blow following a ruling by an Accra High Court (Commercial Division) reinstating Caridem Development Company Limited and its directors as managers of the 31st December Women’ Movement properties.
Nana Konadu was dragged to court by some aggrieved members of the 31st December Women’s Movement led by former Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, Madam Sherry Ayittey.
Mrs. Rawlings and her “company” were drag to court by some disgruntled members of the once vibrant and effective non-governmental organizations in Ghana over the management of properties belonging to the 31st December Women’s Movement and Caridem.
Konadu is alleged to have set up a new company to push out Caridem Development Company Limited and had also sold and rented out some properties of Caridem for the benefit of the new company.
The 31st December Women’s Movement was established in 1982 under the aegis of Nana Konadu by the women’s wing of the Provisional National Defense Council as an NGO devoted to the emancipation of women in the country in the field of social, economic, cultural and political development.
Led by its former treasurer, Madam Sherry Ayittey, the displeased members of the 31st December Women’s Movement some of who were purportedly ousted from the Movement by the group’s founding President, Nana Konadu, and by extension; from its affiliate commercial concerns went to court to seek redress.
The court after hearing all arguments, last Friday entered judgment in favour of Madam Sherry Ayittey and her colleagues, reinstating Caridem and its Directors as part of the rightful mangers of the movement’s properties.
Madam Sherry Ayittey, a once trusted confidant of Nana Konadu, was allegedly relieve of her post as treasurer of the movement in 2011 for endorsing then President John Mills ahead of the National Democratic Congress’ Sunyani Congress to elect flag bearer for the 2012 elections.
In May 1993, the 31st December Women’s Movement under the leadership of its President, Nana Konadu, took a decision to diversify its operations by way of looking for other sources of funding leading to incorporation of Caridem Development Company Limited.
Caridem Development Company Limited then became the “commercial wing” of the 31st Decmebr Women’s Movement that engaged in profitable commercial activities to raise funds in support of the running of the movement.
In an interview with the Africa Week Magazine in 2006 on why Caridem was incorporated, Nana Koandu explained “sometime in May 1993, we realized as an NGO that our usual sources of financing, being contributions from members and donations from other sources could no longer sustain our activities.
We incorporated Caridem as a commercial wing to raise money for the NGO”.
The company was used to acquire many landed properties, including the Nsawam Cannery; a bricks factory near Pambrose in Accra; an array of Ghana National Trading Company (GNTC) properties, including its headquarters at Accra; a Cocoa Processing Factory at Kpone, off the Tema-Aflao highway, as well as a bakery at Labadi in Accra and the 31st December Movement Schools dotted across the country among others.
Though, most of these state owned properties were acquired by Caridem Development Company Limited through the 31st December Women’s Movement under the PNDC/NDC policy on divestiture of some state enterprise, Nana Konadu, over the years; controlled the properties after successfully chasing out other influential members from the movement.
She is said to have assumed full control of the movement’s properties and now determine what and how the companies are to be run, how its proceeds are used and who is hired to work for the companies.
The process leading to the acquisition of some of these properties became a subject of marathon litigation started by the Kufuor government which nearly landed her (Konadu) in jail. In most of these cases, Nana Konadu was charged with theft, fraud and conspiracy to defraud.
In 2008, she was saved from spending time in jail following the NDC’s victory in that year’s election which forced then sitting President Kufuor to instruct the Attorney General to discontinue the case against her.
She was standing trial together with four others for allegedly misappropriating public funds and property during the late 1990s.
Nana Konadu has variously come under attack for her role in acquiring state properties using Caridem Development Company Limited. She has for some time now been battling with residents in four communities in the Naswam Adoagdjiri constituency whose lands were confiscated by the state and later leased to her.
According to the Mawerehene of Adoagyiri, Otuosiriboe Safo Kankam the lands was confiscated under an executive instrument EI 31 (77) and were later leased on October 4, 2013 for 50 years to Caridem Development Company.
He said the lands were leased at a total cost of GH¢3,850, with an average of less than GH¢5.00 per acre. He said Mrs Rawlings was given the option to extend the lease at the end of the 50 years if the company so wished.
He argued that if the state which confiscated the lands in 1977 had no interest in the lands it ought to have returned to them the rightful owners, which is the traditional council.
This was followed up with a petition by MP for the area, Frank Annor Dompreh to then President John Mahama to return the 600 acre land to its rightful owners.
“Tension is brewing between these suburbs and Caridem and government is aware of this. The residents believe they have a right to their lands and that they are being treated unfairly by government because there have been similar cases where the lands were returned to their rightful owners,” Mr Dompreh said.
Nana Konadu is also in court with one Dr. Albert Owusu Barnafo over the ownership of shares in Ghana Rubber Estates Limited. Owners of properties that were sold to her in controversial transactions are also pressing for their properties to be returned to them.