The Judiciary and the Lands Commission need to have a common ground in dealing with public interest matters concerning land, says Alhaji Sulemana Mahama, Chief Lands Officer.
“The judiciary occupies a very unique position to influence the direction for rational land administration in Ghana,” he stressed.
Alhaji Mahama was addressing a sensitisation workshop for judges, lawyers and key actors in land administration in the Volta region in Ho.
He was speaking on “the impact of judicial decisions on the work of the Lands Commission”.
“When judgments go against us it is not wrong for us to draw the attention of the judiciary to this for public interest purposes,” Alhaji Mahama said.
He observed that some judicial decisions regarding land tend to weaken customary control of land and promote mass invasion of public lands and give rise to disharmony in land use and planning.
Alhaji Mahama said “uncertainty and insecurity persist after those judgments as people resort to “self help to protect lands.”
He however said judges could not be blamed for their decisions because they were based on evidence adduced before them.
Alhaji Mahama said people tend to sue the State on the “blind side in order to get default judgment”.
But he said the “great influence and potential of the judiciary is urgently needed to create an enabling environment for stakeholders in land in the country”.
Alhaji Mahama said the way out of the difficulties arising out of some decisions on land must include reviewing and streamlining those conclusions.
He also expressed the need for the nation to ensure certainty of the law and identify other potential interests through public notification and notification of land agencies of land related judgments with copies.
Other recommendations are the exercise of circumspection in the issuance of mandamus, continuous capacity building, maintenance of high level of professionalism and discipline while court certified “cadastral” plans must be integral part of judgments in land cases.
Some High Court Judges who attended the workshop observed that in many cases the Lands Commission failed to make appearance to help judges to adjudicate cases.
They said some of the problems concerning lands emanate from the Lands Commission and political pronouncements.
Togbe Kasa Chief of Ho-Ahoe suggested the need for the Lands Commission to contact families who share land boundaries with those who submit plans to the Commission to work on.
Government should also furnish families whose lands it has acquired through Executive Instruments (E.I).
The workshop also focused on procedures of land registration at the Lands Commission, the role of Land Valuation Division in efficient land Administration and the role of survey and mapping division in efficient land administration.