OCCUPYGHANA DEMANDS COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO RETURN OF STATE LANDS

25 May 2022

OCCUPYGHANA PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA DEMANDS COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO RETURN OF STATE LANDS

We have seen the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources’ press statement dated 24 May 2022 and titled “Achimota Forest Matters,” in which he sets out a brief but informative history of the Achimota Forest Reserve and the various attempts to return lands that were validly acquired by the state almost a century ago, to “preacquisition owners.” We appreciate the Minister’s indication that “the Ministry intends to initiate a process of an independent audit on the specific issue of the acreage de-gazetted and will act accordingly in the public interest, should that become necessary.”

However, because this is a grave “matter of public interest,” we do not think that the “independent audit” and its stated remit will suffice. Evidence abounds on how some of these lands have ended up in the hands of government officials and their privies. It even appears that some of these officials-beneficiaries were involved in the processes leading to the alleged return of lands. In the face of such apparent conflict of interest and conflict of duty as are outlawed by article 284 of the Constitution, we are not certain that a mere “independent audit” would suffice.

We think that, in accordance with article 278 of the Constitution, the President should be satisfied, or the Council of State should advise, or Parliament should request, that a Commission of Inquiry be appointed. The people of Ghana need to be informed of ALL return of state lands to “preacquisition owners” since the Fourth Republican Constitution came into being on 7 January 1993. There is no better way of doing this than by establishing a Commission of Inquiry appointed under Chapter 23 of the Constitution, with “the powers, rights and privileges of the High Court or a Justice of the High Court at a trial” specified in article 279.

Thus, while we appreciate and commend the Minister’s attempt to uncover the truth through the intended “independent audit,” we think that the President should set up the Chapter 23 Commission of Inquiry, failing which we expect Parliament to unanimously resolve, or the Council of State to advise, that a Commission be appointed. The Minister’s audit may constitute evidence to be provided to the Commission.

Always in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana