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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Columnist: Oheneba Akua Manfo

Open letter addressed to Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Justice and IGP

YOUR EXCELLENCIES SAMUEL ATTA AKYEA, HON. MINISTER OF WORKS AND HOUSING;

SOPHIA AKUFO, CHIEF JUSTICE;

MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIAL SERVICE / FRATERNITY;

DAVID APEATU, IGP

Dear Distinguished Honourables,

Please permit me to use this medium to humbly address you as a group. Forgive me for not contacting you individually but the experience I am about to share, I share as a citizen of Ghana and not a spectator. Many Ghanaians are currently experiencing or have experienced same and if changes are not made, many more people will face the same experience for years to come.

To cut a long story short, three years ago, I rented my home to Mr Augustine Shakur as a tenant who wanted to occupy the property himself.

To shorten this long story even further, let us continue from when I was notified that there was a ‘For Rent’ sign outside my home. I rushed to my home only to discover that Mr Shakur had not only cut down and burnt every single tree but he had also thrown all my family’s possessions out of our home – furniture, washing machine, pots and pans, documents and so much more. But the most painful of all… our photographs.

Mr Shakur further sublet my home, as an office, allegedly for 15 years to a Ugandan company.

Mr Shakur then had the CID arrest me for fraud.

I reported the case to the Rent Control Office who after listening to both sides of the story, asked Mr Shakur to vacate my property. He obliged to do so without fail by 31st August 2018.

Today 27th November 2018, two years after he initially took over my home and three months after the Rent Control judgment which he agreed to abide by without fail, Mr. Shakur’s tenants are still occupying my home as their office because I discovered too late that decisions and judgments taken at Rent Control are not enforceable by Rent Control Officers. Ghanaians waste months of their time, energy and resources fighting over tenancy cases at Rent Control only to find out after it all, it was a waste of time. The only way Rent Control decisions are enforced is by taking the cases to the District Court. Since my case started, I have come across so many people who do not understand why the Rent Control Office should exist if its decisions are not enforceable.

As a citizen of Ghana and not a spectator, I would like to know why decisions are taken at the Rent Control Office are not enforceable by officially recognized Rent Control Officials. What is the essence of the Rent Control office if after months of deliberations, decisions taken and judgments made there are not enforceable, especially in clear-cut cases such as mine where the tenant has 1. Confessed to throwing my family’s photographs and other possessions out of our home; 2. Confessed to turning my home into an office and subletting it without my consent, 2. Confessed to not continuing the renovations I had started but rather cut every single tree (avocado, coconut, palm, plantain, moringa, the back garden where we grew food) and destroyed my home. 3. Agreed to vacate my property by 31st August 2018 and pay me rent (so far this year, he has not paid one pesewa).

Had I known that the Rent Control Office is powerless, I would not have wasted the months of money, energy and time spent there. I now have to repeat the process by starting all over again at the District Court.

These days I am very afraid to speak out in Ghana (even when putting forward ideas which although may not be the ultimate solution to Ghana’s many problems, can lead to dialogue and the generation of other ideas that do solve our problems) because unfortunately idea sharing can lead to Ghanaians perceiving you as being “too known”, rude, telling them their job, trying to take their job or personally insulting them.

As a citizen and not a spectator, I humbly plead with your Distinguished Honourables to re-visit the role, duties and powers of the Rent Control Office. Ghanaians must be given the change they are demanding when it comes to the operations and power of the Rent Control Office. Either its powers go all the way to enforcement, or it is shut down and Ghanaians head straight to District Court.

Btw if any of you can end my issue today I would be most grateful. Does it seem fair to start this almost 3-year matter all over again, given all the evidence presented above? My home, my family’s photos, confessions, false arrests and refusal to obey official orders…

Thank you.

Best Regards,

Oheneba Akua Manfo.

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