The Speaker of Parliament, has charged two Committees in Parliament, to investigate the circumstances under which the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), demolished houses at Adjei Kojo, a suburb in Tema.
Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho’s directive comes a day after the Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing has said, the TDC did nothing untoward in the demolition of houses at Adjei Kojo.
The Works and Housing Committee, the Constitutional and Legal Committee Chairman of the Lands and Forestry Committee, which has Alban Bagbin and E.T Mensah, have a month to provide the House with a report on how the victims acquired the land and why the houses were demolished several years after they were built.
Some residents of Adjei Kojo, now sleep in the open in tents provided by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), after their illegal structures were flattened by TDC.
The residents, some of whom had stayed at Adjei Kojo, for over a decade were deemed illegal settlers who encroached on the land.
The issue has become a subject of debate on the floor of Parliament with some members condemning the action by the TDC, who claim to be rightful owners of the land.
Irene Naa Toshie Addo, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tema West, in a statement claimed that over 500 houses in the area, were flattened in the demolition exercise carried out by the TDC and supervised by a combined team of police and military personnel, adding that over 2000 residents were rendered homeless as a result of the exercise.
This was in sharp contrast to TDC position that only 65 illegal structures were demolished.
According to her, the TDC were inhuman and even irresponsible in carrying out the demolition, because they had not undertaken the basic steps necessary before undertaking such a far reaching action.
She said, the TDC failed to acquire the necessary permit to undertake the demolition and also did not submit the necessary notifications before pulling down the structures.
Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Elton John Brobbey, reported that due to the sensitive nature of the matter the Speaker Doe Adjaho only allowed the leadership of the house to speak on the floor.
Some of them questioned how the victims acquired the land and the circumstances under which they built the houses on lands purported to be owned by the TDC. The Speaker subsequently directed Committees to look into the matter and report back to house within a month.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing had said that the TDC did nothing untoward in the demolition of houses at Adjei Kojo, adding, members had been quite indignant about the exercise but after a meeting with the TDC yesterday, it was of the view that the exercise was in order.
Daily Graphic report, last Wednesday captured the Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Francis Adu-Blay Koffie, as saying that the meeting with the TDC had enabled the members to ascertain the full facts and added that the Corporation had provided documentary proof of ownership of the land in question.
He said, the TDC handed over to the Committee, papers which pointed to the fact that the land had been acquired by the Government in 1952.
Also provided to the committee, he said, were copies of Legislative Instrument 1989, (LI1468) which empowered it to “construct roads, public buildings, markets; prepare and execute housing schemes; develop industrial and commercial sites; provide public utilities such as sewerages and street lights and carry on such other activities as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of its object.”
The LI, he added, empowered the TDC to carry out those activities on any of its lands.
Mr. Koffie, noted that from the documents presented to the committee, the encroachers had taken the matter to court and had lost at the High Court and the Appeal Court and added that since they (encroachers) had failed to provide any proof of ownership, members were of the view that the TDC was right in taking the action.
However, he said, some members were of the view that the action should have been carried out with a human face.
Mr. Koffie, who is the MP for Prestea/Huni Valley, explained that from documents provided, the residents and some individuals who claimed to be the chiefs of the area went to court in 2003 to claim ownership of the land but lost. In 2008, they lost an appeal and the court gave the TDC the authority to develop the land.
The Herald’s investigations into the demolishing exercise carried out by the TDC, had revealed inaccuracies in the claims of the so-called victims and politicians on the side of both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The Herald’s findings established that TDC had been in court battling encroachers on it land. In fact, The Herald had seen two court judgements from the Tema High Court presided by Her Lordship, Justice I.M. Heward-Mills and another from Court of Appeal presided by Justices Owusu, Anim and Kusi-Appiah.
The two judgements dated February 28, 2003 and January 17, 2008 respectively confirmed TDC’s ownership of the vast plot of land, describing the encroachment and sale to private individuals as fraudulent.
This paper’s findings, had exposed the incumbent MP for Tema West, Lawyer Naa Torshie Addo and the NDC man struggling to unseat her, Ofosu Ampofo, as supporting the wanton rape of state lands, armed attacked, development of slums and other criminal activities at Adjei Kojo, a suburb of Ashaiman near Tema.
It was also discovered that only 65 illegal structures were demolished and not 300 mansions or luxurious houses, as being churn out by the “victim-loving” media men and politicians.
Parts of the state-land in question, were sold by the heavily armed land guards, foreigners and private individuals, operating under the claim that they are descendents of a dead chief of Tema, Nii Oniku II.
The criminal activities of the armed land guards, led by one Solomon, who runs an area called, “Solomon City”, Nigeriens and individuals, have led to TDC losing a massive 905 acres originally designated as Tema Community 23 and Tema Community 24, respectively, the TDC. Presently has less than 10 acres of land left for its intended projects.
Indeed, a recent survey shockingly revealed that an occupied area of 905.82 acres, not a single person paid a pesewa to TDC for the acquisition. Currently TDC is selling its serviced plots for GH¢30, 000.
Over 300 nurses and other health workers, as well as, civil servants, have falling victim to the criminal activities of these fraudsters.
About ¢1.5 billion were collected from them by the fraudsters on the pretext of giving them plots, which turned out to be TDC lands. The Cooperation is trying to salvage the situation by offering them another land which must be paid for, but most of them have no money.
The demolished houses in question The Herald observed were mostly wooden structures with a lot of uncompleted houses, some of which were not even roofed at the time they were demolished.
Some of these illegal structures served as a den for criminals and foreigners, from whom weapons and ammunitions were retrieved by state Security Officers, during the demolishing exercise.
The demolishing exercise was not arbitrary. It was planned over three years, as much as three notices were served on the builders, owners and occupants of the wooden and uncompleted structures, before they were eventually razed down by the TDC and a taskforce, made up of military, police and personnel of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
The Herald’s information was that prior to the exercise, TDC had established a complaint desk, inviting legal tittles to the said lands from the occupants to submit their documents for verification, but nobody showed up.
Additionally, invitations from the National Security Secretariat to the so-called descendants of the late Nii Oniku II to submit their documents for confirmation also fell flat.
Head of Communications at TDC, Dorothy Asare-Kumah, had explained that the land guards and others claimants of the state land ignore court injunctions slapped on the both parties a started selling land to the private individuals to build houses.
She has told several radios stations in Accra that by the time the case was over, a massive 905 acres originally designated as Tema Community 23 and Tema Community had been encroached.