The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources led by its under pressure head, Samuel Abu Jinapor, might be clutching onto the Will of the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, alias “Sir John”, to divert attention from the sharing of the 361.50 acres of the Achimota Forest lands, having been cited for omitting some vital information in the result from the probe into the Will.
Yesterday, Mr Jinapor announced that the beneficiaries of Sir John’s Will, which is subject for court litigation, do not have access to the Achimota Forest and Ramsar site lands captured in the said document.
Interestingly, but just like the deceased who omitted some vital information, the minister also failed to give details on the names of three companies; Jakaypro Limited, Fasoh Limited and DML Limited in whose names the deceased had hidden his share of the controversial Achimota Forest Lands.
The late former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) not did not mention that the lands were registered in his name, hence the Lands Commission which was the ministry’s first point of call and perhaps the only one, will not have details of the lands as existing in his name as the minister’s press statement sought to portray yesterday.
Mr Jinapor’s statement announcing the outcome of investigations into the ownership of portions of the Achimota Forest land exactly 24-hours after the Will went viral on social media, did not mention anything about the three companies; their ownership structure, shareholders, directors, addresses, nature of business among others leaving more questions than answers.
The tiny detail provided by the deceased, suggested that other owners of Jakaypro Limited, Fasoh Limited and DML Limited, might have also benefited from the Achimota forest reserve.
Although, the government claimed to have given out the prime forest land to the Owoo family of Osu-Accra, reports are that it the land has rather been shared among government appointees, family members of President Nana Akufo-Addo, his friends and cronies including businessmen and ruling party financiers.
Aside the politicians, which include some members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), The Herald, has also picked up reports about one Nana Yaw Boahene, said to be an Accra-based businessman and owner of IBISTEK, who has been linked to 20 acres of the Achimota Forest Land.
He is also mentioned as the owners of Aikan Capital Limited, a financier of the governing NPP, and said to be a front for the Owoo family.
There are claims that he had advanced some huge sums of money to the family and had been waiting to take over the land when released to the Owoo Family.
Nana Yaw Boahene, is said to be using one Yaw Oheneba Otchere as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aikan Capital Limited for the US$1.2 billion ecotourism project in the Achimota Forest in partnership with the Forestry Commission. The project started during the tenure of Samuel Afari Dartey.
Additional information available to The Herald is that, Nana Yaw Boahene, is also the owner of the US$16 million Weddi Africa Tomato Processing Factory and Agro Farms at Domfete near Berekum in the Bono region.
President Akufo-Addo inaugurated that facility in August last year as part of government’s One-District One-Factory initiative with funding from Eximbank Ghana.
Interestingly, the current CEO of the Forestry Commission, John McDonald Allotey and his Human Resources Manager, Anne Brown, witnessed the Will of their late boss, Sir John, meaning they are aware that he had yanked a huge plot to himself.
The Will partly read: “I give my land situated at the Achimota Forest in the name of Jakaypro Limited and measuring 5.541 acres to the following persons forever.
Yaw Amoateng Afriyie – One (1) acre, Eva Akua Afriyie – One (1) acre, Ivy Akua Afriyie – One (1) acre, Elizabeth Asare Boateng (aka Mother) One (1) acre, Michael Owusu – 1.541 acres
It continued: “I give my land also situated at the Achimota Forest in the name of Fasoh Limited and measuring 0.987acres to my nephews Michael Owusu, Yaw Boadu, and Kwabena Amoateng forever”, adding “I jointly own a piece of land at Achimota Forest with Charles Owusu. Upon my demise, my portion of the said land should be given to Ruth Korkor Odonkor.”
“I give my portion of land that I jointly own at the Achimota Forest in the name of DML Limited to Elizabeth Asare Boateng who at the of making this will is domiciled in the USA forever.
The revelations have further heightened public outrage about how Ghanaian politicians are abusing their offices to take state resources including the Achimota forest lands.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said that preliminary inquiries reveal that the alleged Will is a subject of litigation/contestation in the courts.
He said, however, that his checks at the Lands and the Forestry Commissions show no record of ownership of Lands at, the Achimota Forest or the Sakumono Ramsar Site, by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
“That said, given the totality of the circumstances of the said allegations, I, as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, have directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to deem any ownership of lands, both, in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie as void and are to take the appropriate actions accordingly.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged Will. These lands, the subject matter of the alleged Will, shall remain Public Lands, whether or not it falls within the de-gazetted lands pursuant to E.I 144.”
The statement had said that “the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources refers to its Press Statement dated 22nd May, 2022 in which the Ministry committed to inquire into the allegations relating to the acquisition of parcels of lands at the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late former Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John).
“Preliminary inquiries reveal that the alleged Will in question is a subject matter of litigation/contestation in the courts.
“Further checks at the Lands and the Forestry Commissions, the repositories of the records of the lands in question, show no record of ownership of Lands at, the Achimota Forest or the Sakumono Ramsar Site, by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
“That said, given the totality of the circumstances of the said allegations, I, as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, have directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to deem any ownership of lands, both, in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie as void and are to take the appropriate actions accordingly.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged Will. These lands, the subject matter of the alleged Will, shall remain Public Lands, whether or not it falls within the de-gazetted lands pursuant to E.I 144.
“Government will act on any improper acquisition of any Public Lands, regardless of how it was procured, whether now or in the past, and the Achimota Forest Lands will not be an exception.
There are reports that the 361 acres of Forest Reserve land have been reclassified for redevelopment and use, but only 120 acres are to be given to the Owoo family.
This leaves over 240 acres that are being sold to cronies and relatives of the current administration through the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, who when the matter broke out, claimed the 92-year-old Forest is not for sale and has not been sold.
Currently, the Achimota Forest Reserve boasts of approximately 5.23km² of land according to the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas DOPA under the European Union Commission and when the Achimota Forest was gazetted in 1930 by Ghana’s Colonial authorities as a reserve, it had a total size of 494.95 hectares.
Section 19 of the Forestry Act 1927, grants the President of Ghana the right to de-designate a land classified as a Forest Reserve for any other use he/she considers fit.
Interestingly, aside Mike Hammah, the former Member of Parliament(MP) for Tamale Central, Innusa Fuseini, and Nii Osah Mills, who served under John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama as Ministers of Lands and Forestry, many other ministers, have remained silent on the matter.
While, Mike Hammah, talked about receiving the petition from the Owoo family to have the land returned to them, and that he set up a committee chaired by Mr Samuel Afari Dartey to hear them, Innusa Fuseini, said the family was not entitled to a plot of land since their forebears were paid a mouthwatering compensation on the land of 4000 pound sterling today’s 1.2 million pounds.
John Peter Amewu and Kweku Asoma Kyeremeh who left the lands ministry to Mr Jinapor, have not said anything about the land, although they had been mentioned as having worked on the petition.
Mr Afari Dartey, Nana Yaw Boahene and Yaw Oheneba Otchere, are also yet to talk about the matter, although they are reported to have played some key roles.
Meanwhile, reports are that, the government might soon appoint a Supreme Court judge to delve into the Achimota Land grab.
Interestingly, there are reports that some Supreme Court judges, have been compromised by the government with state lands and bungalows sold to them cheaply.