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Bad court judgments said to fuel land disputes in Ghana

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Land disputes are part of the social tensions in Ghana. They constitute a major part of the causes of violence, communal clashes and a major loss of time and resources. It has also led to the phenomena known as ‘land guards’.

Land guards are usually armed gangs who are paid by interested parties in a land dispute to protect their land and in some cases attack and eject occupants of lands believed by some claimants to have been wrongfully acquired.

A new study however is throwing light on the cause of increasing and often violent land disputes in Ghana. A Daily Graphic report of Wednesday November 17, 2010 says bad court judgments are fueling land disputes in the country.

The report indicated that records available at the Lands Commission and other research conducted on land in Ghana show that bad court judgments delivered in some land cases have accentuated land conflicts in many areas.

It said the administrative mechanisms for registering such judgments tended to be fraught with challenges as a result of the open-ended descriptions of the lands in question, prerecorded transactions in favour of other owners who were not parties to the disputes, non-scientific plans attached to judgments among others.

Mr. Sulemana Mahama, the Chief Lands Officer at the Lands Commission was cited in the report as saying that  problems associated with land included delays in dispensing cases, compulsory acquisition and national development agenda.

He also added that some impact of judicial decisions, weakened customary control of land, opportunistic land sales and mass invasion of public land are all part of the problem.

According to Mr. Mahama, recent statistics suggest that close to 73% of sector contribution of the GDP was from land-related productive activities, up to 80% of land holding was held in customary tenure, with agriculture accounting for more than 60% of employment.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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