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General News of Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Source: GNA

Lawyer against Supreme Court ruling on land

Mr Bright Akwetey, a legal practitioner, has said the Supreme Court’s ruling which validates Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey's acquisition of a state bungalow was mischievous and calculated to deprive landlords of their lands by the back door.

He said the provisions in Article 20 (5) and (6) of the Constitution Article cannot be given the wide, expansive interpretation handed down by the Supreme Court.

Mr Kwetey who is also a leading member of the Convention People’s Party was speaking on Tuesday in Accra at a public lecture organised by the GaDangme Council on the theme: “Compulsorily acquired lands, public interest and public purpose versus private interest, reflections on the Supreme Court’s decisions.”

He said the President as a Trustee of the land had wrongly disposed of the land to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, and therefore, Nii La, who had the residual interest in the land, by virtue of Article 20 (5) and (6) of the Constitution, could attach and proceed against both the President, the Lands Commission and Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey to trace H/No. 2 Mungo Street, Ridge Residential Area.

Tracing the genesis of land acquisition by the state from 1844 by the colonial administration to date, he said the right of eminent domain or the right or power to take private property for public use “exists as soon as a government is organised and survives as long as the government survives”.

He said any individual who wants land for his private project should go to the open market to buy land, and not to take advantage of the government’s authority to compulsorily acquire it and turn around and use it for his private project for his private benefit.

“Public lands are meant for public purposes and no change or variation of this purpose should be countenanced in Ghana, now or ever hereafter,” he stated.

He said the President, the trustee of all public lands in Ghana must show his disapproval for this obnoxious interpretation and be the first to uphold and defend the sanctity of the ownership of public lands, which he holds in trust for the people for the collective public purpose for which lands were compulsorily acquired as against the private interest of few.

Mr Akwetey commended Dr Edmund Kofi Omane-Boamah, Minister of Communications and Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education for having the courage to fight injustice in the society like the Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey’s bungalow saga, at a time that they were not in public office.

Mr K. B. Asante, a former Minister of Education, who chaired the function said the corrupt practices of selling state lands to private persons has to stop now, otherwise it might lead to chaos in the country.

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