Civil Society Organisation (CSO), OccupyGhana, has demanded the suspension of the operation of Executive Instrument (E.I) 144 by government.

In a letter dated May 23, 2022, the CSO said, “We write to demand that you revoke or suspend the operation of the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (EI 144) and the Forests (Achimota Firewood Plantation Forest Reserve) (Amendment) Instrument, 2022 (EI 154) forthwith.”

OccupyGhana added that “Instead, we demand a full public inquiry under Chapter 23 of the Constitution into the matter of the Achimota Forest Reserve.”

OccupyGhana calls for suspension of reclassification of Achimota Forest Reserve
Achimota forest. Photo: Edem Srem

“The purpose of the inquiries would be to reverse any illegal acts perpetrated, and improper gains made, by government officials under the guise of returning lands,” the CSO explained.

OccupyGhana also referenced a letter addressed to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor dated May 18, 2022 in which it expressed, “vehement disagreement with the alleged plans to return substantial portions of the Achimota Forest Reserve to its former owners.”

OccupyGhana alleged that since sending that letter to the Minister, “we have had further cause to believe that this state of affairs is worse and much wider than is apparent. We are also concerned that there might have been serious instances of conflict of interest and conflict of duty involving government officials and other government actors, concerning those lands.”

OccupyGhana calls for suspension of reclassification of Achimota Forest Reserve

The group also called on government to institute an inquiry into all alleged return of government lands to former owners that have occurred under the Fourth Republic.

It would be recalled that 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”.