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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Columnist: Adib Saani

Some soldiers gradually becoming land guards, debt collectors

A clash between residents and persons believed to be military personnel occured over a land dispute A clash between residents and persons believed to be military personnel occured over a land dispute

First, I strongly condemn the actions of some residents of Dome Faase for assaulting two millitary men they suspected were landgaurds. Ghana is not a banana Republic. Whether they were military personnel or not, landguards or otherwise, there is absolutely no justification for such backward mob mentality. It could have been worse.

It is however worth inquiring to ascertain the veracity of the Deputy Defense Minister Major Derrick Oduro's (rtd) statement on the issue. He opined that the officers were on an officially sanctioned duty.

If this statement is anything to go by, it must have been such a poorly organized intervention that lacked proper coordination synonymous with our military.

Consequently, I suspect a grand attempt to cover up because it doesnt make sense deploying soldiers so ill-equipped and without Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to such a volatile community that has been reeling under the threat of violence over lands claimed by two belligerent parties. Havent we learnt hard lessons enough? Why does it have to be the military and not the police?

For years on end, I have observed with disdain how some military men are used by estate developers and other individuals for landguard activities. Most depressingly, some soldiers are used by money lenders to collect debts from "stubborn" debtors.

I am also absolutely gobsmacked over the deployment of military men to the area to arrest those individuals who perpetrated the act. Is it the work of the millitary to arrest criminals? Not surprisingly, reports of abuse of residents of Dome Faase by the military is beginning to trickle in.

Almost all the young men in that area have fled. Reports indicate that 76 year old Imam in the area who had nothing to do with the incident has also been arrested. This is further fueled by the spirit of "comradeship" in the army; touch one, touch all. Remember I spoke about a backward mob mentality? Can you spot the difference? Absolutely not...

All of these feed into our inability to manage our lands effectively. It is commonplace seeing a chief sell one parcel of land to five different buyers. Why does it have to take several years to secure a land title certificate? Why does it have to take the courts 20 years to litigate a land case? It is therefore not an accident to find people who can afford, resort to land guards to protect their lands or unleash terror to grab lands. The court system is not helping enough.

Land administration has gone beyond being a developmental issue, it is a human and physical security nightmare. About 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  are land related.

The World Bank has financed the Land Administration Project on two different occasions, yet, no progress.

To be able to solve the issue of land guards and it's related security implications to the country, we have to approach the issue strategically and from source.... A progressive land administration regime.

Adib Saani, Security Analyst/Exe. Dir. Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace Building