Chiefs and people of Danfa, Amrahia and Kweiman in the greater Accra region have expressed their displeasure about the conduct of the deputy minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, who on Wednesday 25th of August led a team of Police officers and some land guards, with one Clement Gyato as leader and demolished few structures on a land released to them by the government.
They described his action on that fateful day as an act of erroneously using state powers to suppress owners of the 40% of the dairy farms land duly released by the state, and to aid in expropriating it for onward sharing with people with vested interest, hence, his unnecessary interference.
Information available to this paper indicates that parts of the land released have allegedly been shared among staff of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Lands Commission, Ministry of Works and Housing and the former caretaker of government lands, Clement Gyato, (Ayonk Holdings), including some staff of the defunct farm.
The manager of the defunct dairy farms, Mr. Seth Frimpong, did confirm that indeed, there were some forms of sharing, while referring to himself as one of the beneficiaries, and that, the portion the land owners are presently developing was the portion shared. He has also mentioned the above named institutions as beneficiaries.
He made this disclosure when the Greater Accra regional police command invited Chiefs and elders of Danfa, Amrahia and Kweiman for questioning about the happenings at Dairy farms, after some faceless state appointees had reported them (the custodians of the dairy farms land) for developing a portion that has been released to the various families that own the dairy farms land.
The deputy minister’s inordinate action depicts what this paper describes as illegal land grabbing and the making of an authoritarian populist regime that uses state powers to suppress the poor and forcibly take what belongs to them.
One thing that the present regime failed to understand is that, Corruption in land-related matters is often an indication of the breakdown of a country’s overall governance because land is the most important livelihood asset for the majority of the Ghanaian people and an important factor of production and acceleration of development of the have-not; hence any government that deprives these vulnerable people of gaining access to their lands bequeathed to them by their ancestors cannot be seen as caring enough.
Recent findings by experts show that there is a very strong connection between levels of corruption in the land sector and overall public sector corruption in the country. If a deputy minister can have enough bravado to deliver a hefty slap on the face of the president and his vice by going contrary to their directives, then, Ghana is drifting off its safest zone to only God knows where.
Mr. President, your chances of doing right to the people of Ghana in providing a safe environment where Ghanaians can do business and foreign investors can see Ghana as an attractive destination, is being undermined by callous group of selfish state appointees and their collaborators.
Credible information available to The Citizen Newspaper indicates plans are being hatched to shortchange Chiefs and elders of Amrahia, Kweiman and Danfa of the portion of the dairy farms land released to them by the state last year 27th of November; and the deputy minister’s action last Wednesday is not far from what we have gathered.
For the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources to describe development on that stretch of land as encroachment is an insult to the President who deemed it fit to release it to the rightful owners; and an insult to the Vice President who officially announced the release and its ratio at a durbar at Danfa, one of the communities that benefited from the release.
It’s an insult to all party gurus present, including the then sector minister, Asomah Cheremeh because the impression being created by Benito Owusu- Bio is that there was nothing like that when in actual fact, land owners were given a release letter and composite plan.
According to the chiefs, they are not against the ratio government released to them but rather the decision of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to secede a portion of the released land to compensate Clement Gyato’s Ayonk Holdings for previously taking care of government lands across the Country. They ask: why should our own portion of the land be used to pay an individual or organization government engaged to render services?
They have also accused Clement Gyato of conniving with some government appointees to sell their land at the Kweiman stretch of the farm to individuals.
It is rather unfortunate that at this material moment that Ghana touts itself of basking in the rule of law and good governance, we have to get to a point where government, and its appointees rather disregard law and order and natural justice.