Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Attorney General has asked the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to stay off lands belonging to developers at East Dadekotopon in La, Accra because the military has not lawfully acquired the property.
The military has indicated its intention to create what it calls “security buffer zone” requiring an area of 2,456.55 acres or 994.15 hectares around Burma Camp but they faced fierce resistance from the owners of the land led by the East Dadekotopon Development Trust who have gone ahead to sell the lands to private developers with land titles.
The land owners have not been at peace as the military in Rambo style led by a certain One Star General has been terrorizing them, regularly pulling down their houses.
But the deputy attorney General says it was unacceptable and nothing short of lawlessness.
The A-G came to the conclusion after the government set up a joint team to investigate whether or not the military had the authority to create the buffer zone using the lands in contention, especially when they were not part of the acquired lands for military installations.
The government’s team was led by Deputy Attorney General, Dr Dominic Ayine with Major General B.G. Saagbul, Commanders B.F. Asante and S.W. Anim, Colonel M.K. Gyekye-Asante, Lt. Col. P.K. Apenkwa and Mr. N.A. Ayamdoo as members while representatives of the East Dadekotopon Development Trust were Kojo Graham (lawyer), E. Odoi-Yemo (Chairman of the Trust), Ebenezer Lassey-Quaye and Joeph Adjei (both trustees) and L.S.N. Akuetteh (lawyer).
After series of meetings the Deputy AG wrote in a letter to both parties “It was abundantly evident from the negotiations and from all the documentation made available for that purpose that the Ghana Armed Forces have not disputed the fact that the land, the subject-matter of the negotiations belongs to the East Dadekotopon Development Trust”.
“Indeed, the Ghana Armed Forces in the letter of July 8, 2014, the Ghana Armed Forces admitted that though there had been an attempt in the past to acquire the land, the process of acquisition was not completed,” he added.
High Court Decision
The minister said when the trust sued the government through the AG over the land, the court was “very categorical” that it was the duty of the state to go ahead and acquire the said land under the State Lands Act as provided by law and pay due compensation to the owners and until that was done the military had no business to act in the manner inconsistent with the plaintiff’s ownership of the land.
Dr. Ayine said the A-G takes took the view that the East Dadekotopon Development Trust “has a constitutionally protected right to compensation for the proposed taking of its land for the security buffer zone,” adding “even without a High Court decision, the Ghana Armed Forces could not proceed to use the land without following due process of law and paying compensation.”
He also said that the High Court decision had been overturned on appeal by the defendant saying “until that is done, it is binding on the government and for that matter the military and must of necessity be respected,” and added “any attempt to enforce the creation of a security buffer zone outside of the framework of law is unconstitutional.”
The AG said if the military intended to proceed with the creation of a security buffer zone they should commence the formal process through the Ministry of Defence for the compulsory acquisition and pay prompt and adequate compensation to the owners of the land saying “as was evident from the negotiations, there is no dispute respecting the legitimate security and, for that matter, public purpose to which the land with be put.”
He said until that was done, the military “must not engage in acts of trespass to the land or by means of the use of force to seek to prevent the current land owners from developing their lands.”
Complaint Of Harassment
On April 2, 2015, land owners of the area in contention held a news conference and alleged acts of intimidation and illegal destruction of property carried out by persons claiming to act for the Ghana Armed Forces.
They claimed the military through the media had also justified the demolition of their property on the land but insisted that the claim by the military of the ownership of the land was not correct.
“For any land to become public land, including land acquired for use by the military, it must have been properly acquired by the State in keeping with the constitution and relevant laws,” the land owners had insisted.