The Minority in Parliament has called for a probe into the use of the services of a private entity to retrieve and protect government-owned lands by state institutions.
The caucus said the engagement of the entity to provide landguard services blatantly breached the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act, 999).
It mentioned some of the institutions engaged in such outlawed practices as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MNRL), the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service.
This revelation came to light when the Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MNRL), Professor Patrick Agbesinyale, appeared before the Committee on Lands and Forestry last week.
He admitted that besides the MLNR, the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service had also engaged the private entity to retrieve lands belonging to them.
Breach of law
At a press conference in Parliament yesterday, the NDC MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, said “Resorting to the services of people whose services have been outlawed for the protection of government lands came to us as a surprise”.
“When we pass laws to sanitise any area or development in our country, we do not expect the state to be the first to break those laws and this is unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Suhuyini, who is also the Deputy Ranking Member of the Lands and Forestry Committee of Parliament, said anybody with the hope of acquiring land in the country, particularly in Accra, had been concerned about the issue of landguards.
He said land acquisition had often been met with brutalities, most of which had led to loss of lives and maiming of individuals.
He said it was in a bid to address such concerns that Parliament passed Act 999 which was dedicated to outlawing the practice of engaging landguards.
“Nobody or any institution is allowed to engage a landguard to protect his or her property and one would have thought that with the passage of the law to outlaw landguardism, our land tenure system, supported by the passage of the new land law, would have been sanitised to ease the acquisition of land.
He said it, therefore, came as a surprise to the members of the Lands and Forestry Committee that the Chief Director of MNLR, during a meeting with him, would reveal that the ministry had resorted to engaging a landguard to retrieve and protect government lands.
The Ministry, however, has debunked the allegation.
In a statement issued and signed by the Director of the MLNR, Prof. Agbesinyale, the ministry said neither the Ministry nor the government had contracted the services of land guards in its operations.
“However the Ministry, through its agency, Lands Commission, legally engaged the services of Aynok Holding Limited, a registered limited liability company, to assist in reclaiming encroached government lands.
“This engagement has been in effect since 2012.
We wish to categorically state that government, and by extension the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, does not employ illegal processes to reclaim all encroached state lands,” the statement said.