General News | Jan 18, 2017

'I have no lease agreement with gov't' – Rawlings dismisses land claim

Former President Jerry John Rawlings says he has no lease agreement with government over a purported four plots of land allegedly allocated to him at the Ridge in Accra.

In a statement released Tuesday, the former Ghanaian leader said that although he expressed interest in the acquisition of the land, it has not been allocated to him.

Letters exchanged between Mr Rawlings and the Lands Commission were circulated on social media in which the former President requested for land to site the headquarters of his foundation.

A letter from the former President dated May 9, 2016, and addressed to the Lands Commission read;

“I write to confirm receipt of a letter dated May 3, 2016, from the Lands Commission confirming the allocation of the above-named plot to me with effect from May 1, 2016, per Your Excellency’s [former President John Mahama] directives.

“This is to express my sincere gratitude for the allocation, which I intend to dedicate to the development of structures for the Rawlings Foundation.”

Mr Rawlings' letter was authored after the Lands Commission had written to him about the decision to give the land covering 4.368 acres to him on lease for 99 years “with effect from 1st day of May, 2016, at a peppercorn rent of Ten Ghana Cedis (GHC10.00) per annum commencing 1st May, 2016.”

“The rent shall not be subject to revision throughout the entire duration of the lease,” it continued, adding “The term contained in the lease shall be subject to renewal for further terms of Fifty (50) years on the expiration of this term and any subsequent term.”

A study of the letters revealed former President Rawlings' request was given a boost after Secretary to former President John Mahama wrote to the then Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Nii Osah Mills and the Chairman of the Lands Commissioin to approve the request.

Ambassador Kwesi Quartey wrote on December 12, 2016, that "The purpose for which His Excellency [Mr Rawlings] requested the above-named plot is well appreciated and indeed characteristic of his selfless and humanitarian cast of mind."

"President Mahama had directed the matter to be referred to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Chair of the Lands Commission with a view to approving and giving effect to His Excellency's request."

Reacting to the issue on Joy News Tuesday, Mr Osah Mills said he was aware of the communication between the Commission and Mr Rawlings, but he could not confirm if the land was allocated to the former President.

“If you read the letter carefully there was the earlier grant and a request for the adjoining property [made by Mr Rawlings]," he said.

He said same grant for a land about 300 meters from the one earmarked for Mr Rawlings was prepared for former President John Kufuor.

"I know the draft was prepared, but I am not certain whether Lands Commission finalise things," he told Joy News.

But Mr Rawlings said despite the presence of documents which revealed the approval of his request, he has no lease agreement with government.

"No lease agreement was thus reached with the government," the former Ghanaian leader insisted.

Story by Ghana | | Austin Brakopowers

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