Health & Lifestyle
Macho men’ are preventing me from accessing my land
Dear Mirror Lawyer, My grandmother in her will gave her two acres of land located at Kwamoso in the Eastern Region to me.
I registered the land at the Lands Commission in Koforidua and therefore the title is in my name.
I was out of the country for about three years and upon my return I decided to farm on my land. However, to my surprise, when I visited the land I was greeted by some workers who were developing the land.
Upon making enquiries, I was informed that an estate developer had decided to build an estate on the land. I am very surprised because I have no idea of any such person.
On my last visit, some “macho men” prevented me from entering the land. In fact, they beat me severely. I want to start planting my mangoes during the next planting season. I am afraid to go back there because they may even kill me. What legal action can I take? –
Kwadwo Baah, Abomoso, Anyinam.
Dear Kwadwo, The 1992 Constitution guarantees a person’s right to own land and take any steps to protect his ownership and encroachment on the land.
As such once the title of the land is vested in you, the law gives you the right to use reasonable force to prevent trespassers from denying you the right of inheritance from your grandmother.
You could, however, be denied your ownership of the land if you abandoned the land for more than twelve years and a trespasser takes possession of your land.
By Section 12 of the new Lands’ Act, a person who either personally or through another, unlawfully uses force to prevent a person with an interest in the land from accessing that land commits an offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment of five to 15 years. Further, under Section 7 of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999), a person who directly or indirectly facilitates, organises, or promotes the organisation of land guards, for the purposes of protecting or guarding land or property, whether belonging to that person or any other person commits a criminal offence and is liable to be convicted to serve a term of imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years without the option of a fine.
Therefore, you can report the incident to the police who would initiate the prosecution of the estate developer.
Generally, an individual has the capacity to sue in order to protect his interest in land. The exception is where that individual is a “person with disability.”
In law, a person with a disability is either an infant or a person of unsound mind. Such a person must sue through a guardian.
Therefore, you can also institute an action seeking for a declaration of title to the land, and also for a perpetual injunction restraining the estate developer or anyone claiming through him from accessing the land.
You may also want to seek damages from the estate developer for trespassing on your land.