OccupyGhana asserts that the government should retain the remaining Achimota land, preserve a portion of it as a green belt, and use the remainder in the national interest.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the organization stated that it has closely watched the public discourse surrounding the topic of reclassifying portions of land bought in the 1920s and designated as the Achimota Forest Reserve.
“The history of the government’s ownership of forcibly confiscated properties is unremarkable. The 2015 Report of the Sole Commissioner on Judgment Debts reveals how the government was defrauded into paying compensation on such lands when none was owed. “The overall management of these lands has been haphazard and disorganized, record-keeping has been largely (and sometimes intentionally) sloppy, and the 2015 Report of the Sole Commissioner on Judgment Debts reveals how the government has been defrauded into paying compensation on such lands when none was owed
According to OccupyGhana, there is evidence that some of these lands, under the pretense of being returned to their original owners, have ended up in the hands of government and party leaders. These circumstances combine to make Ghanaians exceedingly skeptical of any government-related land transaction, and with good reason.”
“We notice that article 20 of the Constitution stipulates that the original proprietors of compulsorily acquired lands should have the first opportunity to acquire them when they are no longer needed for their original purpose.
“We are also aware that the Supreme Court has ruled that this provision does not apply to lands forcibly taken prior to the implementation of the current Constitution. Therefore, article 20 does not apply to the Achimota properties, and the government is under no legal obligation to restore these or any other property or to permit the original owners to exercise a first choice to acquire.”
The Group emphasized that the government should only give portions of the land to the original owners that pertain to the September 2013 contract and “keep the remaining land for other pertinent national objectives.”
OccupyGhana argued that further land distribution to the original owners is not in the national interest.
It would be a “very wrong signal and a serious abdication” of the government’s duty to the majority of Ghanaians to give the idea that it has no interest in holding and managing land in the national interest.
“Therefore, we encourage the government to reconsider this situation and freeze the size of the lands to be returned at the size specified in the 2013 99-year Lease Agreements inked with the original landowners, and no more.
“Government should then return to the Ghanaian people, on whose behalf it controls the property, with a clear development plan that takes into account and includes the land’s original forestry purpose as well as other current uses,” OccupyGhana stated.
The Group wants the government to postpone any scheduled returns of compulsorily acquired lands, emphasizing that the government cannot return compulsorily acquired state lands given that the Health Minister has indicated that the Agenda 111 Health Project has been halted due to land litigation issues.
“We also take this opportunity to encourage the government to halt all planned returns of lands gained by force.” Ghana cannot and should not return any compulsorily acquired lands or state lands, and there appears to be a serious disconnect in government policy that returns lands for free at a time when the Health Minister has announced that the Agenda 111 Health Project has been halted due to land litigation issues, according to portions of the statement.
The Group urged the government to perform an audit of all lands in its hands and issue a report that outlines a national strategy for utilizing these areas for national development.
“Furthermore, we ask the government, if it has not already done so, to perform and publish an audit of all lands it owns and come up with a clear national strategy on how those lands are or will be used to fulfill our national development goals” stated by OccupyGhana
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