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Sir John owns no land in Achimota Forest, Ramsar Site - Jinapor

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
Samuel A. Jinapor — Minister of Lands and Natural Resources
Samuel A. Jinapor — Minister of Lands and Natural Resources

Records at the Lands Commission and the Forestry Commission (FC) show that the late Chief Executive of the FC, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie popularly known as Sir John, owns no land at the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has said.

However, given what is contained in the alleged Will of Sir John, with regards to the ownership of parcel of lands in the two areas, the sector Minister, Samuel A. Jinapor, said any such ownership should be deemed null and void.

This was contained in a statement issued by the ministry today titled: “Re-Achimota Forest/Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie’s Alleged Last Will and Testament”.

Signed by Mr Jinapor, the statement was in furtherance to a press statement by the ministry dated May 22, 2022, in which the ministry committed to inquire into allegations relating to the acquisition of parcels of lands in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late head of the Forestry Commission.

Inside the Will

The Will states in part: “I give my land situated at the Achimota Forest in the name of Jakaypro Limited and measuring 5.541 acres to the following persons forever: Yaw Amoateng Afriyie, One (1) acre; Eva Akua Afriyie, One (1) acre; Ivy Akua Afriyie, 0ne (1) acre; Elizabeth Asare Boateng (aka Mother), One (1) acre; Michael Owusu, 1.541 acres.”

It adds: “I give my land also situated at the Achimota Forest in the name of Fasoh Limited and measuring 0.987acres to my nephews Michael Owusu, Yaw Boadu and Kwabena Amoateng, forever.”

Furthermore, the document states: “I jointly own a piece of land at Achimota Forest with Charles Owusu. Upon my demise, my portion of the said land should be given to Ruth Korkor Odonkor.”

Again it states: “I give my portion of land that is jointly owned at the Achimota Forest in the name of DML Limited to Elizabeth Asare Boateng who at the time of making this will is domiciled in the USA forever.”

Sir John’s Will further indicated that he owned a 5.07-acre land at the Ramsar area at Sakumono in Accra, and went ahead to name the beneficiaries.

“I give my land situate at the Ramsar area at Sakumono in the Greater Accra Region and measuring 5.07 acres to my sisters Abena Saah and her children, Comfort Amoateng and her children, Abena Konadu and Juliet Akua Arko and her children on equal share basis forever.”

Rejection

Nevertheless, the ministry’s statement rejected any such ownership in the Will, which itself is a subject of litigation in court.

“That said, given the totality of the circumstances of the said allegations, I, as the minister for Lands and Natural Resources, I have directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to deem any ownership of lands, both in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie as void and are to take the appropriate actions accordingly,” the statement said.

It added: “For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged will.”

The statement insisted that the lands in question were state lands and would remain so.

“These lands, the subject matter of the alleged will, shall remain public lands, whether or not it falls within the de-gazetted lands pursuant to EI 144,” the statement said.

It added that the government would act on any improper acquisition of any public lands, regardless of how it was procured, whether now or in the past, and the Achimota Forest lands would not be an exception.

OccupyGhana demands revocation

One of the groups that had joined the debate is OccupyGhana, which called on the President to establish a commission of inquiry into the return of state lands to "pre-acquisition owners" since the Fourth Republican Constitution came into being on January 7, 1993.

That, it said, would help resolve all issues surrounding the Achimota Forest Reserve which had become a subject of public debate in recent times.