The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio has strongly condemned encroachment activities on a government-owned land at Mphuasem, a suburb of Accra and declared government’s determination to win back the acres of land.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, July, 12, 2022, Mr Owusu-Bio said government is concerned with the encroachment on state lands and has embarked on mission to avert the illegality.
He defended the demolition of some walls and temporal structures on a parcel of land at Mphehuasem, stressing that the Ministry’s contractor had the legitimacy to protect the said lands from encroachment.
“In recent times, there have been disturbances at Mphehuasem relating to government’s attempt to recover state lands which have been encroached upon by unauthorised persons. It must be stated that the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), section 236 frowns on encroachment on state lands and criminalises such acts.
“The Lands Commission as the managers of public/state lands under the 1992 constitution under section 258 is performing its statutory functions to recover the encroached state lands,” he said.
He further disclosed that, government is aware of the activities of encroachers and has established a Public Lands Protection Team to regularly survey and monitor public lands to ensure that they are free from encroachment.
The team, according to Mr Owusu-Bio is composed of a representative of the MLNR, a representative of Lands Commission, a representative of National Security, two representatives from Ghana Police Service, one of whom should be from the Property Fraud Unit, a representative of Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority, a representative from the Attorney General’s Department, a representative from AYNOK Holdings and a representative of the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council.
Speaking at the same press briefing, the Executive-Secretary of Lands Commission, Mr. Ebenezer Kobina Dadson sought to clear all doubts and mischief surrounding the public-owned land at Mphehuasem following a clash between students of Ideal College and some men suspected to be contractor protecting the said land.
Mr. Ebenezer Kobina Dadson espoused that the land in question is a public land which has been encroached upon by Ideal College and others.
Mr Dadson explained that the Commission has in various ways informed the encroachers which include Ideal College and the University Professional Studies, Accra as well as other religious institutions on its plans to regularize the “illegal” structures where possible and to reclaim others.
Touching on the specific case of the Ideal College, Mr Dadson stated that the owner of Ideal College is laying claim to some 20plots of land some of which he has sold to third parties on the blind side of the commission.
Dealing with the demolishing exercises, Mr Dadson insisted that the Commission through its contractor acted within the confines of the law as notices were served prior to the exercise.
He maintained that it has become necessary for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to take firm steps towards retrieving all state lands which have been encroached on by persons, organization and institutions.
“The Commission has given several notices since 2010 to persons engaged in these encroachments including Ideal College, the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) hostel and several churches. The last being a Press Release on 16th April, 2022 and Public Notice of demolition posted within the area in April, 2022.
“By letter dated 12th April, 2022, the Ghana Police Service has been engaged to provide security to the Commission’s Contractor in protecting the land. The same letter was copied to the Greater Accra Regional Police Command, the East Legon Police Command and the Legon Police Command.
“To ensure developments are done in accordance with the approved local plan, the Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission would regularize the interests of UPSA in the hostel and other educational institutions. In the case of Ideal College, the Proprietor, Dr Joseph Kobina Essibu had been advised to formerly apply for regularization on two separate parcels of land within the enclave. It is noteworthy that engagement with Dr Essibu dates back to 2018.”
He said that the Commission will use the law and join forces with the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council in protecting the land.
“The Commission is acting under Section 236 of the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) to recover these lands. This impunity of occupation of state lands must be mitigated.
“The Lands Commission released a press statement on 21st April 2022 debunking the claim of ownership by the Mpehuasem Mantse, Nii Torgbor Obodai Ampao VI on 16th April 2022”, he concluded.