Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority in Parliament has asked President Akufo-Addo to revoke Executive Instrument 144 which seeks to declassify some portions of the Achimota Forest Reserve.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu in a statement on Tuesday noted that Executive Instrument 144 is in breach of the provisions of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925).

He explained that per the Act, the regulation of land use and spatial planning in Ghana is not conferred on the President.

He contended that the President’s exercise of power for the issuance of the Executive Instrument 144 pursuant to section 19 of the Forest Act, 1927 (CAP. 157) is untenable as “Section 90(1) of Act 925 provides that: Where a provision of this Act is in conflict with any other enactment relating to land use, the provision of this Act shall prevail.”

“The Executive Instrument numbered 144, the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 issued “By Command of the President” and signed by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, claims to be made in exercise of the power conferred on the President by section 19 of the Forest Act, 1927 (CAP. 157). However, the current law regulating land use and spatial planning in Ghana is the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925). It is clear that Executive Instrument 144 is in breach of the provisions of Act 925,” portions of the statement read.

For this reason, the Minority wants the President “to do what is right and proper by respecting the provisions in the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925) and the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution of actually holding public lands on behalf of, and in trust for, the people of Ghana.”

“It would be in the President’s own interest and the interest of his Government simply to revoke the E.I. 144 instead of, once again, showing contempt for the laws of Ghana and the interest of the Ghanaian people,” the statement from Minority read.

The Caucus said Section 93(4) of Act 925 which relates to the change or use or re-zoning of a public space requires Parliament’s approval before such action. Thus, they believe once Parliament has not given approval to such action, government cannot declassify the Achimota Forest reserves land.

“Section 93(4) of Act 925 which relates to the change or use or re-zoning of a public space, states unequivocally that: “the change of use or re-zoning of a public space shall be subjected to approval by Parliament.

E.I 144 is in breach of Act 925 - Minority on declassification of Achimota Forest
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor

“Therefore, besides the role of the District Spatial Planning Committee, Parliamentary approval is, therefore, a requirement for the change of use or re-zoning of the Achimota Forest Reserve area. Section 96 of Act 925 requires that the re-zoning to be done before Government can convey the land to any person.”

Background

Last week, the President signed an Executive Instrument to declassify the Achimota Forest.

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.

However, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said the government is not selling the land.

According to him, plans are rather afoot to upgrade the Achimota Forest into a world-class asset.

Addressing the press on Tuesday, May 17, the sector Minister emphasised that widespread reports about the supposed sale of the Forest are false and baseless, as government has no such plans.

“The government intends to enrich the Achimota forest, revamp it and hopefully, in the not too distant future, transform it into the likes of High Park of London and Central Park of New York, where Ghanaians can go and enjoy the beauty of nature and forest reserve as it happens in other parts of the world”.