The Osu Stool is contesting government’s decision to release of 361 acres of land on the periphery of the Achimota forest reserve to the Owoo family.
The stool argues that it is the rightful owner of the land on which the forest sits and not the Owoo family.
The spokesperson of the Osu stool, Nii O. T. Ankrah, told Korku Lumor on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme on Thursday, 19 May 2022 that: “We, as the custodians of the Osu stool, ceded those lands for the Achimota School as well as the Achimota Forest and after we realised that there was some encroachment, we wrote to the then-minister for a release”.
“It never happened and we took it to court in 2011 and we again went to court in 2014 over the same issue: that is Nii Ako Nortei, that’s the Regent of Osu v. the Lands Commission”, he noted.
Mr Ankrah said: “Judgment was granted. The Owoos and everybody appealed and they lost then it was time for the implementation, which never happened, so, we also tried negotiating with the government on those issues”.
“As it didn’t happen, we also relaxed, then three days [ago], we got to hear that per EI 144, it has been released to the Owoo family”, he complained.
“That is why we also had to get up and let the government know that it hasn’t really treated us fairly”, Mr Ankrah said.
He added: “We are not for the selling of the land, we are really ready for Achimota to be used as a forest but if it’s being released, it should be released to the rightful owners”.
Meanwhile, the elders of the Owoo family, have said they have never been compensated for the acquisition of the sprawling land by the government almost a century ago.
The family, in a statement, also said no parcel of forest reserve land had ever been released to them as claimed by some critics publicly.
“The much-talked-about 19th August 2016 ceremony, which has been erroneously stated in the public as an occasion when land was released to the Owoo family, is false and misleading. That ceremony was a sod-cutting ceremony for the development of the Achimota Forest into an Eco-Tourism park. The Owoo Family were mere invitees/guests”, the principal elders said in a statement.
It follows ongoing discussions about the government’s recent reclassification of 361 acres of land on the peripheries of the forest reserve, thus, paving the way for development activities to take place on those properties.
At a press conference on Tuesday, 17 May 2022, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Jinapor, said the government is returning 361 acres of land on the peripheries of the forest reserve in the national capital, to the custodial owners, since those lands have not been used for their intended purpose.
There were speculations that the government had sold the forest reserve following the issuance of an Executive Instrument, E.I. 144, which declassified portions of the Achimota Forest as a reserve.
However, Mr Jinapor explained that the E.I. affects only 361 acres of forest reserve lands that, among others, were supposed to have been used for various purposes by the government, one being the extension of the Achimota School.
Mr Jinapor noted that the Owoo family’s quest to repossess its lands started from the Kufuor administration in 2007 when they petitioned the President for the state to release that part of the Forest Reserve adjoining the Tema motorway, to them.
A similar petition, Mr Jinapor noted, was also filed in 2011 by the family and was granted in 2013 after consultations and inquiries.
Denying claims that the entire forest reserve was being sold, Mr Jinapor explained at the press conference that E.I. 144 was accompanied by a separate one, E.I. 154, which states “emphatically the area of the forest shall remain a Forest Reserve.”
“What E.I. 144 does is to make the peripheral portions of the Forest Reserve, which had already been granted to the Owoo Family in September 2013, portions of which have already been developed, cease to be a forest reserve, to ensure a development that is consistent with the area of the forest reserve,” Mr Jinapor explained further.
Mr Jinapor said “both instruments contain adequate provisions that seek to protect the ecological integrity of the Forest Reserve.”, adding: “The government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, will continue to protect the Achimota Forest and prevent it from being further encroached.”
In its statement, the Owoo Family said it “has always maintained that compensation has not been paid for the 1927 acquisition”, adding: “The acreage due the Owoo family was arrived at through a long-standing negotiation which, in many respects, predates the current administration. This was done with the active involvement of various State technical negotiators and agencies”.
The Owoo family said it “has petitioned all governments in the fourth republican dispensation and, indeed, is yet to take possession of any parcel of land to date”.
Read the Owoo family’s full statement below:
RE: ACHIMOTA FOREST AND MATTERS ARISING
We, the Owoo Family, have restrained ourselves from participating in the ongoing debate as a result of good advice and judgment.
We, however, reluctantly wish to set a few records straight as follows:
1. The Owoo Family, the pre-acquisition owners, of all the land acquired in 1921 and 1927 for the Achimota School, have suffered grave historical injustice;
2. The family have had to, in the past, accept and/or acquiesce to terms to enable it move on which it strongly believes have been unfair and unjust;
3. The much-talked-about 19th August 2016 ceremony, which has been erroneously stated in the public as an occasion when land was released to the Owoo family, is false and misleading. That ceremony was a sod-cutting ceremony for the development of the Achimota Forest into an Eco-Tourism park. The Owoo Family were mere invitees/guests;
4. The Owoo Family has always maintained that compensation has not been paid for the 1927 acquisition; and
5. The acreage due the Owoo family was arrived at through a long-standing negotiation which, in many respects, predates the current administration. This was done with the active involvement of various State technical negotiators and agencies.
The Owoo family has petitioned all governments in the fourth republican dispensation and, indeed, is yet to take possession of any parcel of land to date.
We commit to conducting ourselves in a manner which will not compromise the ecological integrity of the adjoining forest reserve and call on the general public to please disregard any misleading contributions to the ongoing public discussions.
John Kwartey Nee Owoo
Francis Kwatei Nee Owoo
Nii Kwate Owoo
George Kwatey Owoo
Frank Nii Kwartey Owoo
Nat Holly Nii Owoo
George Annan Owoo.