Court dismisses OSP’s application to freeze St John’s assets

An application by the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) to freeze assets of the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, has been dismissed by the Accra High Court. 

The OSP froze the assets of Mr Afriyie, who until his death was the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, in order to conduct investigation into the circumstances that led to his acquisition of state lands.

(SP), Mr Kissi Agyebeng 

Mr Afriyie, who’s Will became a topical issue early this year, shared his property including land at the Achimota Forest, which acquisition was criticised by some members of the public. 

The OSP is mandated under Section 38 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act , Act 959, to freeze assets if he holds the view that it is necessary for investigations.

 The OSP is required to apply to a court within fourteen days for a confirmation of the freezing order.

But, the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe took the view that the OSP ought to have filed the process under Section 54 of the Act.

In a statement issued on May 26, this year, the OSP indicated that the investigation would deal with suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of alleged improper and unlawful acquisition of state property at the Achimota Forest enclave and the Ramsar catchment at Sakumono, in Accra, by the late Sir John.

Mr Kissi Agyebeng, the Special Prosecutor, directed the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to fully cooperate with the OSP in the investigations.

The Achimota Forest has been in the news for some time now, following an announcement by the government of the declassification of the peripherals, in order to return them to their original owners, the Owoo Family.

Many civil society organisations (CSOs) and individuals have spoken against the government’s actions, with some alleging that the move would affect the ecological integrity of the forest.

Many also fear the declassified lands would only end up being distributed among government functionaries, claims which the government has denied.

Corruption Watch Ghana, a coalition of anti-corruption civil society organisations, including the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), the Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) and the Multimedia platforms, Joy FM and Adom FM,  petitioned the Special Prosecutor to investigate the acquisition of state lands in the Achimota Forest and the Ramsar area in Sakumono by three companies and two individuals contained in the Last Will and Testament of Sir John.

The companies are Jakaypros Limited, Fasoh Limited and DML Limited, while the individuals are Charles Owusu and Sir John.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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