Occupy Ghana petitions RTI C’ssion over public lands

Occupy Ghana, a pressure group, has petitioned the Right to Information (RTI) Commission to order the Lands Commission to provide details on all public lands that the Commission has allegedly returned to owners.

It called on the Commission to make the Lands Commission provide the group with a list of all public lands, which the government’s ownership or control had been relinquished and the names of the persons to whom those lands had been released.

“The respective sizes and locations (suburbs, towns/cities, and regions) of all such lands, and the conditions of release, whether free, sale, lease or license be provided and we are also asking Lands Commission be made to tell the group the amount of rent paid or payable, and any other amounts paid to or received by the government, if any, for the release of a land.

“The Lands Commission has purportedly returned some public lands to original owners in compliance with article 20(5) and (6) of the 1992 Constitution however, such action by the Commission is contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling those provisions did not apply to lands acquired before the Constitution came into force,” the petition noted.

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The petition dated September 20, 2022 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, said the action had been necessitated due to the Lands Commission’s “conceivable trick to frustrate” access to documents, had between June 2 and September 15, 2022, engaged with the Commission to be given the needed information in line with Right To Information and to be accounted to as per constitutional provisions.

It noted that checks with both the Ministry Lands and Natural Resources and Lands Commission had confirmed contrary to article 258(2), there was no government policy that authorises alleged returns of lands to purported original owners.

The petition indicated that reasons for which information had not been given included demand to name an individual with whom the Commission would deal with, request for time to compile information from the regions, and calling for meeting to discuss group’s concerns.

According to the petition, the Commission stated it needed the advice of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice on request in light of provisions of Data Protection and RTI Acts, unless and until compelled by RTI Commission to do so, the Lands Commission would keep coming up with one unsustainable excuse after another.

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