General News of Monday, 28 May 2012
The Chairman of the Lands Commission, Nana Adjei Ampofo, has revealed the State bungalow that has become the subject of controversy between the Ghana government and NPP stalwart Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey was leased to the latter for 50 years.
The opposition New Patriotic Party’s national chairman made a down-payment of $400, 000 for the State property at No. 2 Mungo Street at Ridge, where he stayed while serving as Minister of Tourism and Chief of Staff under the erstwhile Kufuor administration.
However, two deputy Ministers – Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah and Dr. Omane-Boamah – took the issue to the Supreme Court on the basis of conflict of interest and abuse of office, but the highest court of Ghana dismissed it.
Government last week, after a Cabinet meeting, served notice it is no longer selling the bungalow under the Accra Redevelopment Scheme because the acquisition was “immoral”.
In the wake of the new twist to the bungalow brouhaha, the Lands Commission has waded into the debate, arguing Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey is by law “owner of the land”, but the President (government) can at anytime decide to take it back after paying the required compensation.
“In respect of Jake’s case a lease for 50 years was granted to him,” Mr. Ampofo told Accra-based Joy FM. “I want everyone to understand that a lease when granted doesn’t confer right of a sale. It is wrong to say that whether it is a bungalow or a land was sold to Jake.”
He added: “In respect of the lease it was both the bungalow and the land on which the bungalow stands. Let me state again [that] under some conditions government has power by law to take any land that is required in the interest of the public.
“Government in this sense means the President and if the government is of the view that the land is required for public use, then it has power by law to take back that land upon the payment of adequate compensation that is if we go by the decision of the Supreme Court that for all purposes, that land belongs to Jake. Government still has power by law to take back the land.”**