Member of Parliament for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini

A member of the Lands and Natural Resources Committee in Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini has said that what government has done in respect of the Achimota Forest reserve raises questions of non-adherence to Article 20 of the 1992 Constitution.

Quoting clauses 5 and 6 of Article 20, Mr. Suhuyini said the Article stipulates that “when land is acquired for a specific purpose when government decides to change or abandon the reason for which the land was acquired, it automatically reverts to the owners of the land.”

This comes after an eight-paged document was widely circulated on social media, which purported to mean that the classification of the Achimota Forest Reserve has been lifted to pave way for a possible redevelopment for other purposes.

The Instrument gazetted on behalf of President Akufo-Addo by the Lands Minister Samuel Abdulai Jinapor stipulated that effective May 1, 2022, the land on which the Forest is located shall cease to be a forest reserve, pursuant to Section 19 of the Forest Act, 1927 (CAP. 157).

The cessation, per that document, was to be effective on May 1, 2022.

Reacting to this, Mr. Suhuyini indicated that the Minority Group “are not in favour of whatever decision government may have regarding the decision to abandon the Forest as a National Reserve.”

Speaking in an interview on Joy FM’s NewsNight, the Tamale North MP explained that the reserve serves ecological purposes, therefore the Minority is “not convinced that it has outlived its usefulness.”

“We [Members of the Committee] are studying this move, it smacks on the surface, of an intention by government just to encroach and perhaps re-demarcate and sell to cronies like many other lands have suffered in the Greater Accra Region, especially,” he accused government.

He said that the Members of the Lands Committee “will hasten slowly and look at the laws that govern the use of this reserve and at the appropriate time, you will hear from us as Members of the Committee.”

He further said that for the time being, the members are primarily examining the problem and talking with other land specialists.

Meanwhile, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, has stated that the Achimota Forest Reserve has not been sold.

He says rumours suggesting the government has gazetted an Executive Instrument (E.I.) to approve the redesignation, sale or development of the land are fake and must be utterly disregarded.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr. Jinapor wrote that the “Achimota Forest has not and will not be sold.”