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Release of public lands: OccupyGhana petitions RTI Commission

OccupyGhana, a pressure group, has petitioned the Right to Information (RTI) Commission to order the Lands Commission to provide details on all public lands that the Commission had allegedly returned to owners.

The petition dated September 20, 2022 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, said the action had been necessitated due to the Lands Commission’s “conceivable trick to frustrate” access to the documents.

The Group has, therefore, asked the RTI Commission to make the Lands Commission provide it (the Group) with a list of all public lands over, which Government’s ownership or control had been relinquished and the names of the persons to whom those lands had been released.

They are also asking that the respective sizes and locations (suburbs, towns/cities, and regions) of all such lands, and the conditions of release, whether free, sale, lease or license be provided.

OccupyGhana is also asking that the Lands Commission be made to tell the Group the amount of rent paid or payable, and any other amounts paid to or received by Government, if any, for the release of a land.

According to the Group, the Lands Commission had purportedly returned some public lands to the original owners in compliance with article 20(5) and (6) of the Constitution.

However, the Group said such action by the Commission was contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling that those provisions did not apply to lands acquired before the Constitution came into force.

“Checks with both the Lands Ministry and Lands Commission have confirmed that contrary to article 258(2), there is no government policy that authorises these alleged returns of lands to purported original owners,” the pressure group noted.

The Group said it had between June 2 and September 15, 2022, engaged with the Commission to be given the needed information in line with the right to information and to be accounted to, as Ghanaians per constitutional provisions.

It said reasons for, which the information had not been given included a demand to name an individual with whom the Commission would deal with, request for time to compile the information from the regions, and the calling for a meeting to discuss the Group’s concerns.

According to OccupyGhana, the Commission also said it needed the advice of the Attorney-General on the request in the light of the provisions of the Data Protection Act and the Right to Information Act.

“At this stage, we are concerned that unless and until compelled by the Right to Information Commission to do so, the Lands Commission will keep coming up with one unsustainable excuse after another,” the Group said, hence, the petition.



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