A Ghanaian has dragged the Lands Commission to court for allocating 4.368 acres of public land to former President Jerry John Rawlings for personal use.
On May 3, 2016, the Lands Commission, acting on the instruction of then President John Mahama, allocated the land, situated along the Sekou Toure Street, Accra, to former President Rawlings in his personal name to be used for the Rawlings Foundation.
The plaintiff, Mr Jonathan Holm, a businessman, and resident of Osu, Accra, is arguing that by virtue of Article 20(5) and (6) of the 1992 Constitution, public lands acquired in the public interest are required to be used for public purposes that would inure to the benefit of Ghanaians generally and not for personal or selected, sectarian or esoteric purposes.
The plaintiff joined President Rawlings and the Lands Commission as defendants.
It is the case of the plaintiff that the Lands Commission acted contrary to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution.
Mr Holm stated that per the constitution, if land compulsorily acquired for a stated public purpose for which it was compulsorily acquired or that it is no longer required for the public purpose for which it was initially acquired, the owner of the land immediately preceding the compulsory acquisition should be given the first option to re-acquire the land for which reason the land owner would be made to refund the compensation paid for same or be made to pay for the value of the land.
Since the land in dispute forms part of Osu Stool lands, the Stool, the plaintiff held was required by the constitution to be given the first option to re-acquire the land when the government decided that it no longer required the land for the stated public purpose.
In the writ, filed by his counsel, Mr Bright O. Akwetey of Akwetey and Associates, the plaintiff averred that the Rawlings Foundation was not a public purpose or a project in the public interest and could not be established on the land in dispute.
He said on May 9, 2016, former President Rawlings in a letter addressed to then President Mahama requested the Lands Commission to allocate additional land close to the 4.368 acres and measuring approximately 50 per cent of the allocated land to the portion already allocated to him so as to have enough space for parking for staff and visitors.
This, the plaintiff noted was not right and as such, the court should stop the allocation as the reason for the request for additional land was for a project that is not in the public interest.
According to the plaintiff, the 4.368 public land already allocated to former President had state bungalows built on the land with occupants and that all the owner needed to do was to give the occupants three months prior notice to vacate the land for construction works to begin.
Mr Holm wanted an order by the court declaring the land in dispute as land compulsorily acquired in the public interest for public purposes.
He prayed the state that by the Constitution of Ghana as well as specific laws under which the land was compulsorily acquired, the President of the Republic automatically became a Trustee for the land on behalf of all Ghanaians.
The plaintiff wants an order declaring that the purpose of a Trust cannot be varied in a situation where the Trust purpose still subsists.
An order directed at Lands Commission to comply with the constitution by giving the Osu Stool the first option to re-acquire the land.
The plaintiff urged the court to revoke the allocation and make order for recovery of possession of the land.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA