Chiefs’ involvement in vested lands affecting government business – Lands Commission
Mr Benjamin Jojo Adu-Hanson, the Bono Regional Lands Officer, has expressed concern about the interference of chiefs in vested lands, which has become a hindrance to government’s operations because of frequent break out of land disputes.
According to him, the allocation of vested lands must be carried out by the Lands Commission in the best interest of the Government.
Mr Adu-Hanson who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani, mentioned issues like double/multiple land sales, land disputes and litigation that have been plaguing Sunyani and its surrounding areas as well as other jurisdictions nationwide in recent years, saying they should be addressed with urgency to promote government business.
He explained that Sunyani lands were considered vested lands, and according to the law, it was the President of the Republic who is responsible for managing all vested lands, as stated in Article 257 of the 1992 Constitution, but the “allodial owners being the chiefs, become the beneficial owners.”
Mr Adu-Hanson emphasized that anyone seeking land allocation in Sunyani must go through the Lands Commission, which had been the established practice for years and had successfully minimised litigation.
He however, expressed worry that in the past four to five years, the chiefs and the “usufruct families” had taken on the responsibilities of the Lands Commission, resulting to a surge in land disputes in Sunyani and its surrounding communities.
Mr Adu-Hanson stated that the entire Sunyani land was considered stool land, under the ownership of the traditional authority, saying the stool had subjects known as “usufruct families” who had been farming on the land for many years, protecting it on behalf of the stool.
However, he added that a worrying trend had emerged where chiefs had started selling those lands and consequently the usufruct families had also begun to sell the lands, resulting to double/multiple ownership claims and subsequent confusion and disputes.
Mr Adu-Hanson cited a situation where chiefs, usufruct families and the Lands Commission were all attempting to claim ownership of a piece of land, saying such situations arose because the land was not registered and documented by the Commission and was assumed to be vacant.
He, therefore, called for collaboration among the chiefs, the usufruct families and the Lands Commission to find mutually beneficial solutions to land allocation and management in the region.