The Minority in Parliament has demanded that the Lands and Natural Resources Minister should appear before the House to answer questions on the controversies surrounding the alleged sale of portions of the Achimota Forest lands.

Ranking Member on the Lands Committee in Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini told JoyNews’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Kwesi Parker-Wilson, that the Committee would probe the many controversies surrounding the Achimota Forest when the Committee resumes sitting.

According to him, the Committee among many other things would want to know why the government took a decision to revoke Section 19 of Cap 157 of the Forestry Act.

“Parliament cannot be disinterested and when we resume as a Committee, we will want to probe into this one. The Minister claims they are doing an investigation…..it is the reason why the Minister has to appear before the Committee with the Forestry Commission to answer some questions. What even went into the President’s decision to revoke section 19 of Cap 157 of the Forestry Act to re-classify the forest?” he told Kwesi Parker-Wilson.

The Legislator is of the view that government must re-gazette the Executive Instrument 144 to assure Ghanaians of its commitment to preserve the Achimota Forest.

“The first thing they must do is to re-gazette the E.I 144 that is the first important step to assuring all of us that the government is really committed to preserving the Achimota Forest,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Lands Minister has directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to take appropriate actions over claims that the late former CEO of the Forestry Commission owns portions of lands at the Achimota Forest and Sakumono Ramsar Site.

Samuel Abdulai Jinapor said the two entities should consider any alleged ownership of lands at the said sites by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John, as void.

Lands Minister, Forestry Commission must appear before Parliament over Achimota Forest controversy – Alhassan Suhuyini
Lands Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor

“For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged Will.

“These lands, the subject matter of the alleged Will, shall remain public lands, whether or not it falls within the de-gazetted lands pursuant to E.I. 144,” the Damongo Member of Parliament stated in a statement issued on Tuesday.

He added: “Further checks at the Lands and the Forestry Commissions – the repositories of the records of the lands in question – show no record of ownership of lands at the Achimota Forest or the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.”

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.

Lands Minister, Forestry Commission must appear before Parliament over Achimota Forest controversy – Alhassan Suhuyini
Achimota Forest Reserve

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”.

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