Soldiers stop estate developer’s project

•    The military and police personnel at the disputed land site.   inset: The  excavator brought to grade the land.  Photo: Victor Buxton

• The military and police personnel at the disputed land site. inset: The excavator brought to grade the land. Photo: Victor Buxton

There was near pandemonium at the weekend, when military personnel and staff of an estate development company, clashed over ownership of a land situated in East Legon Hills, near Burma Camp.

Charlesfely Limited, the estate development company, has acquired portions of land from the East Dadekoto-pon Development Trust. Its workers met fierce resistance on Saturday, from the military when they took an excavator there to prepare the land.

The military is, for the second time denying access to any potential developer of the area close to the 2,456.55 acres designated as a military security buffer zone, which is the subject of the controversy.

Although police officers from the East Legon Division were on site to ensure law and order, the soldiers came in their numbers and threatened to beat up excavator operators if they dared start work.

Journalists who rushed to the scene were molested by the soldiers as their phones and cameras were seized and pictures taken deleted.

Colonel P.K Apenkwa, Director of General Logistics of the Ghana Armed Forces, drove on to the site in a Nissan Pick-up with the registration number GS 2063-09, at 9:25 am and later called about 10 armed personnel to prevent the operators from working on the land.

Later, two other officers from the communications directorate arrived in an armoured vehicle and started taking photos and video footage.

After reading a document from the Attorney-General’s Department which cautioned the military not to trespass on the land, Colonel Apenkwa said: “I don’t take orders from the Attorney-General”.

After two hours of heated argument, managers of Charlesfely and the military agreed with the police to take the heavy duty equipment to the East Legon Police Station, but they were later taken to Property Fraud Office at the Police Headquarters.

A document intercepted by The Ghanaian Times indicated that the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General had cautioned the Ghana Armed Forces not to trespass on the land, in its quest to create a security buffer zone.

The document, signed by Dr. Dominic Akurutinga Ayine, Deputy Attorney-General, cautioned the military not to trespass on the land until it followed due process by acquiring the land from its owners and compensation paid.

In a letter addressed to the Attorney-General, dated July 22, 2014, Colonel Apenkwa indicated that the security buffer zone would require an area of 2,456.55 acres.

Also, in the said letter, the military admitted that though there had been an attempt in the past to acquire the land, the process had not been completed.

Moreover, the Attorney-General in a response to the letter from the Ghana Armed Forces, advised that it should, if it intended to proceed with the creation of the security buffer zone, commence the formal process through the Ministry of Defence for the compulsory acquisition of the 2,456.55 acres and pay prompt and adequate compensation to the current owners of the land.

It said until that is done, “the Ghana Armed Forces must not engage in acts of trespass to land by means of the use of force to seek to prevent the current owners from developing their lands”.

Similarly, in a recent high court ruling by Justice Oppong in the case, East Dadekotopon Development Trust vrs the Attorney-General, the court held that “it is the duty of the state to go ahead and acquire the land under the State Lands Act, as provided by law, and pay due compensation to the owners thereof. Until the state does that, it has no business to act in a manner inconsistent with plaintiff’s ownership of the land”.

However, managers of Charlesfely Limited claimed that their portion was 300 feet away from the buffer zone and did not pose any threats.

It is the contention of the military that there should be a clear demarcation of the security buffer zone between military installation and civilian developments.

By Malik Sullemana   

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