There can be no justification for the Lands Commission to procure the services of a private entity to protect and reclaim state lands, a former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini has said.
In his view, a private entity contracted to perform that function raises questions about the existence of the Lands Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources which have been mandated by the Constitution to reclaim encroached public lands.
Speaking on Ghana Tonight how on TV3 Tuesday, July 18, the former Tamale Central lawmaker said “we have state institutions, public lands are managed by the Lands Commission and if anybody encroaches on public lands it is the duty of the Lands Commission to recover the land.
“They do that by either going to court or using self-help. The state institutions that help the Lands Commission to reclaim the government lands are the police and the military so it is definitely weird for the Ministry of Lands and Naureral to say that it is permissible for the Lands Commission to hire a private individual to protect public lands. Then I ask, what then will the lands commission be doing?”
He added “For me, it is strange that the Lands Commission or the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources could say that it is within the legitimate authority to hire private persons to protect public lands. It questions the very basis of the existence of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Commission set up under the constitution to protect public lands.”
His comments came after the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources dismissed reports that a land guard has been contracted to protect state lands.
A statement issued by the Ministry said “The Ministry would like to set the records straight that government and for that matter, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources do not contract the services of land guards in its operations.
“However, the Ministry through its agency Lands Commission legally engaged the services of Aynok Holding Limited, a registered Limited liability company to assist in reclaiming encroached government lands. The engagement has been in effect since 2012.
“We wish to state categorically that government and by extension, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources employs a legal process to reclaim all encroached state lands,” the Ministry said in a statement.
On Monday, July 17, the Member of Parliament for Tamale North Alhassn Suhuyini said that the Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Professor Patrick Agbesinyale has revealed that a land guard has been contracted to protect state lands.
Suhiyini said this came to light during an engagement that the Lands and Forestry Committee of Parliament had with the Ministry.
Speaking to journalists in Parliament on Monday, July 17, he raised concerns against dealing with a person whose activities have been outlawed.
He also said the Committee is requesting to know the terms and conditions of the said contract.
“In our engagement, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources the Chief Director revealed, shockingly, that the Ministry has resorted to engaging a land guard to retrieve and protect government lands.
“Mind you, these are lands that are held on behalf of the people of Ghana and vested in the President to protect it. I am sure that the framers of the Constitution are aware that the president is the Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and he is seized with the capacity to ensure that these lands are protected for our common use, that is why the lands are vested in the president, and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is the Ministry tasked with the responsibility of overseeing these lands.
“So for the Ministry to tell us the lack of capacity of the state to protect these lands that are put in trust but to resort to the services of people whose activities have been outlawed for the protection of these lands came to us as a surprise.
“We have therefore demanded from the Ministry the terms and conditions of that unholy relationship between the Ministry and this land guard and his institution. We cannot pass laws that we do not intend to keep.”