OccupyGhana, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has written to the Lands Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor to stop the release of public lands and render account to Ghanaians.

The CSO, in a release dated May 31, stated that “We submit that, as fiduciaries of public lands, both you [Lands Minister] and the Lands Commission cannot take actions that jeopardise the trust imposed on you by the Constitution.”

“You certainly have no power to dispose of our lands FOR NOTHING and FOREVER, and without due account to the citizens of Ghana. Certainly, you, as Minister, cannot engage in the direct management of public lands, as your role is limited to making the binding written general policy directions to the Lands Commission,” OccupyGhana added.

In this regard, OccupyGhana “challenged the Government to publish its policy governing these land releases, justifying why it is disposing of the citizens’ allodial title FOR NOTHING and FOREVER, showing all the relevant factors and considerations that informed such a policy.”

“Then the citizens of Ghana, on whose behalf those lands are held in trust, can participate in the ensuing debate and make their voices heard, to ensure that the trustees and managers (as fiduciaries) do not have an unbridled power on how to handle that trust property. Your duty as constitutionally composed fiduciaries demands that you act in the best interest of Ghanaians.

“You therefore have to explain to us how these land releases that deprive the citizens of their allodial title to the lands FOR NOTHING and FOREVER, is in our best interest. Your added constitutional duty to be accountable requires and expects you to justify your actions and decisions to those to whom you owe that duty, the people,” parts of the release indicated.

OccupyGhana further noted that: “Sir, we firmly believe that the land releases are illegal and unconstitutional, and we call upon the Government to immediately reverse such releases and make room for a national debate on this matter. Simply put, you are not allowed to arbitrarily dispose of the family silver and heirlooms without accounting to us, the true owners.”

According to the Organisation, in its earlier letter dated May 18, 2022 titled “OccupyGhana Disagrees With any Further Release of Achimota Lands” it stated that it was not in the national interest to release any lands to the original owners while urging the government to freeze all planned releases of public lands and audit all lands that it holds and come up with a clear national strategy on the use to which those lands are being or will be put, to serve our national developmental goals.

The group observed that the Land Ministry in a press statement dated May 24, 2022 announced an “audit of the Achimota Forest Reserve lands.”

They added that “We however responded on the same date to state that the audit should cover all public lands released since 7 January 1993, together with a Chapter 23 Commission of Inquiry into all cases of land releases since that date.”

“While waiting to hear from you on this, we have seen correspondence that shows that the Government is engaged in even more release of lands, this time in Kumasi. Hence the need to restate our vehement disagreement with these land releases,” OccupyGhana stated.