The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) on Thursday criticised the Lands Commission on the issue of appropriation of government bungalows and lands saying it appeared it had bowed to the “illegal land grab”.
In a statement issued in Accra, it recalled that at its press conference on October 8, 2010, it stated that since the business of government was not coming to an end anytime soon, government would still need land for building schools, hospitals, office, recreational facilities and many more.
The CJA also stated that even if the government no longer had use of those bungalows and lands, it was required to give the first option of purchase to the original owners as stipulated in the 1992 Constitution.
“We are concerned that the Lands Commission appears to have given in to the illegal land grab without considering the legal, political and social implications and how they will resonate with the people of Ghana, including the original owners of the land,” the CJA said.
The statement noted that the Lands Commission, through its press statement attempted to “mislead the public” with the claim that lands sold under the so-called “Redevelopment Schemes” were sold at open market prices.
“The truth is that 88 plots of land were sold under protocol arrangements, with premiums ranging between GH¢6,000 and GH¢8,000 per plot.”
It said the same was the case under the in-famous “In-filling schemes” under which plots around government bungalows were carved and shared among the elite members and supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“All these lands are located in prime areas of Ridge, Cantonments and Airport Residential Area, where the market price for a plot of land averages at more than GH¢500,000.
“The deception by the Lands Commission becomes clearer when they admit that they shared the lands at the site of the former International Students Hostel at GH¢15,000 per plot.”
The CJA said the Lands Commission’s admission that under the Kufuor administration, lands originally zoned for civic/cultural use were re-zoned at will, reinforced its demand for an independent public enquiry to lay bare the facts for Ghanaians to understand what really happened and for the necessary lessons to be learnt.
“It is unacceptable for the Lands Commission to condone the land-grab with their lame excuse that once the wrong has already been committed, it should be allowed to stand.”
The CJA said it was concerned about an emerging trend whereby politicians, who were elected into office to serve the people of the country, and to look after state properties were carving out state properties and distributing them among themselves.
“They grab state cars, bungalows, lands and furniture. It is becoming clear that the greed of our politicians knows no bounds. This dangerous trend has serious implication for the peace and security of this country.”
The CJA said it was in view of this that on October 18, 2010, it formally wrote to the President to request for an independent enquiry into the land grab.
“Up till now, the President has not responded to our petition. We are of the view that the statement of the Lands Commission does not address our original concerns. We therefore call on the people of Ghana to remain steadfast in the campaign to reverse the looting of government lands and bungalows,” it said.