The news of the degazetting of portions of the Achimota Forest Reserve through the Executive Instrument 144, which took effect on May 1, 2022, has generated a lot of controversy in the Ghanaian media with varied comments being expressed about the propriety of the action amidst government’s stated commitments to environmental protection.
Although the government says the degazetted portion, about 361 acres, is being ceded to the allodial owners of the forest land, the Owoo family, environmentalists insist that the government ought to protect and preserve it due to its importance.
“An Executive Instrument (E.I.) 144 gazetted on behalf of President Akufo-Addo by the Lands Minister Samuel Abdulai Jinapor indicates that effective May 1, 2022, the land on which the Forest is located shall cease to be a forest reserve.
“The President’s action was in accordance with Section 19 of the Forest Act, 1927 (CAP. 157) which gives him the authority to declare that particular land is no longer required as a forest reserve,” portions of the purported E.I. read.
Barely a week later, the Achimota Forest was back in the news after a purported will of former Forestry Commission head, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, became public.
In the purported Will, Sir John bequeathed acres of lands he owned in his name and others he owned in the name of his companies in the Achimota forest to some relatives.
He also willed acres of specified and unspecified land at the Sakumono Ramsar site to relatives.
Many have spoken against the development and accused the late Sir John of taking advantage of his office to amass for himself lands that ought to be protected for the state.
The Lands Commission has already said that it has no records to show that Sir John owns lands in the Achimota Forest, but the Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources has said while the purported Will is a subject of litigation, it is revoking any authority of the said Achimota forest and Sakumono Ramsar site lands to any private individual.
Just as issues of Sir John’s Will were about settling, another list of some prominent individuals and politicians who own state lands and state properties have become public.
The 19-paged document available to GhanaWeb named some politicians both in opposition and current, members of the judiciary, and some major entities and institutions, among others having acquired state lands and property in some prime areas in Accra.
Page 8 of the document states, “list of allocations – international students hostel plots” and has names like Georgina Wood, former Chief Justice, Akua Kuenyehia, former Dean, Faculty of Law, Legon and an NPP supporter nominated by Kufuor to ICC in The Hague, Freddie Worsemau Blay, former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Akwasi Osei Adjei, former NPP Minister for Foreign Affairs (2007-2009), KT Hammond, MP, Adansi Asokwa.
Others are: Ben Owusu Mensah, former Director-General, GPHA, Osei Kuffuor, Frank Mpare, Secretary to Cabinet under NPP, KK Sarpong, NPP Ex-MD, TOR, Esther Obeng Dapaah, former NPP MP for Abrem, Ambassador Kobina Wood, NPP functionary, Irene Addo, former NPP MP.
The rest are: Oboshie Sai Coffie, former Minister of Tourism, Dr Abu Sakara Forster, CPP Vice-Presidential Candidate (2008), and Hajia Alima Mahama, NPP former Minister, Women and Children. Also listed is Elizabeth Ohene, veteran journalist and former Minister as well as Sir Sam Jonah, formerly of Ashanti Gold and now of Jonah Capital.