The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has refuted claims made by a former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini, that the John Agyekum Kufour government agreed to lease a total of 193 acres of land to the Owoo Family.
The claims by Mr. Inusah follow details provided by the current Minister of Lands and Natural Resources on the history of the changes in the acreage of the Achimota forest which was de-gazetted by the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (E.I. 144).
In his statement on May 24, 2022, the Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Damongo Constituency, said in 2008, the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines entered into an agreement with the Owoo Family where the Government agreed to grant the Owoo Family a lease over 90 acres of the Achimota Forest.
However, it was increased to 118.023 acres in 2011 by a committee chaired by the then Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Samuel Afari-Dartey. The change was accepted by the Government and in 2013, former President Mahama gave Executive Approval for 118.023 acres to be granted to the Family.
In a rejoinder issued on Wednesday by the former Minister, who is also the former Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Mr. Inusah Fuseini said, President Kufour’s administration agreed to grant the Owoo Family 193 acres and not 90 acres. He said this has been corroborated by Mr. Kwame Gyan who was the legal consultant to the Ministry at the time and who witnessed the Agreement.
However, a copy of the Agreement sighted shows that while the Agreement was indeed witnessed by Mr. Kwame Gyan, the Agreement was for Government to grant the Owoo Family only 90 acres and not 193 acres as alluded to in Mr. Inusah Fuseini’s rejoinder.
Paragraph 9 of the Agreement on page 2 says that “All that piece and parcel of land particularly described in the Schedule hereto and measuring approximately 193.02 Acres and edged Yellow on the attached plan shall remain State Land free from all encumbrances.”
The Lands Ministry averred that it is perhaps this clause of the Agreement, together with the Schedule, that has misled some to think that the Agreement was to grant 193 acres to the Family. “But that clause only says the 193 acres described in the Schedule shall remain a state land” the government noted, adding that the clause which deals with the agreement to grant portions to the Owoo Family is clause 11 which states as follows:
“The First Party [the Government] shall grant to the Second Party [the Owoo Family] a leasehold interest for 99 years at peppercorn rent over a portion of the land referred to in paragraph 9 above provided always that the total area to be leased shall not exceed 90 Acres.”
The Ministry therefore noted by this clause, what Government committed to do was to grant a lease over 90 acres of the entire 193 acres that was under contention, to the Owoo Family, and that it is confirmed at page 6 of the Afari-Dartey Committee’s Report.
The Committee however recommended 118.023 acres and justified it at page 8 paragraph 2 as follows: “Although the peripheral sections put together may be more than the previous grant, the Committee is of the view that this is a fair compromise to make up for the loss of the prime areas to the Eco-Park Project.”
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