…Asked To Show Some Respect
The Chairman of the Legal Committee of the GaDamgbe Council, Bright Akwettey has advised authorities in charge of the [email protected] project to be humble enough to sit down with the La Traditional Council and thrash out differences over the use of the La Wireless lands.
The [email protected] Secretariat is putting up chalets on the lands to house heads of states and other dignitaries who will be partaking in the celebration of Ghana's Independence Anniversary next March.
However the traditional authority disagrees with the use of the land for the purpose and is already in court to stop the project, arguing that the government forcibly acquired the lands originally for a wireless telecommunication facility.
According to Bright Akwetey, a change in purpose should let the government revert to its last owners for negotiations but this has not been done before the new project started in clear violation of the Constitution. He said he saw the matter as a simple one that should not cost the parties sleepless nights, and attributed the Secretariat's failure to sit with the Council as a lack of respect for the land owners.
Bright Akwetey said if the government was to discuss its new plans for the land with the owners, it would have resulted in either a disagreement, in which case the government was due an equivalent of how much compensation it paid on acquiring the land, or an agreement to its new purpose.
In that case the people could only ask for something in return and peace would prevail.
“So this will take ten minutes. This will take ten minutes. 'Nii La, we want to offer you the first option to reacquire this land but you see, Ghana is going to celebrate its 50th Anniversary and we need land for these buildings, will you oblige us the use of this land for a few chalets here and there and he says well you can use them for chalets but what do we get in return?' And this will take ten minutes, and people are feeling too big to do this in this country? No! It must change, it must change.”
Bright Akwetey said since 2001, there have been improper yet systematic acquisitions of La lands and the people are this time around resolved to see that the right things are done.
“The national interest should not be used to becloud the issues. The national interest does not allow you to flout the Constitution. It is in the national interest to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. That should not be an excuse. That should not be used as an alibi to ride roughshod over the interest of the people. No!
“Yes La People also want to see a very successful celebration but this started a long time ago. Come to Cantonments and see the Yaakobi Gardens and the other gardens where the bungalows are being demolished and private persons are building their private residences all over and renting them out to foreigners for foreign exchange.
“The La people also know how to rent land or rent buildings out for foreign exchange. It is being done as a pattern, it is following a system. It started from the year 2001 and La has about 12 cases in court, similar cases in court against the government, against the Lands Commission for breaking down the bungalows and allotting the plots to private persons.
“And we're saying that the law on compulsory acquisition of land in the Commonwealth and in Ghana does not allow the diversion of the land from the original purpose to other purposes.
“Yes [email protected], I believe that if respect is shown to the La people, and the Secretariat and whoever are responsible go and sit down with them now, and they also put their demands forward, some agreement can be reached, but stop the work and then you don't stop the work and they see the work going on seven days a week, 24 hours a day is showing gross disrespect.
“This will not be done in other places in this country so why is it being done in Accra? We know Dr. Wereko Brobby is fully aware and his boss the Chairman of the [email protected] Secretariat is also fully aware that they can't do this in other parts of this country.
“Why? If you see that the people are hospitable please, just conform, just show them respect. Don't show them disrespect because we are all Ghanaians.”
Earlier on Tuesday Dr. Wereko Brobby, Chief Executive of the [email protected] Secretariat expressed disquiet with the interruption of work on the housing units. He expressed the hope that an early resolution of the matter will avert any further delays in the work of the Secretariat and spare the country any embarrassment.
Wereko Brobby also said it was important for the housing project to be seen as one for the country rather than one for the [email protected] Secretariat.
“We've asked private developers to make investments because government clearly didn't have the resources to provide all the investments needed to build all these houses. We entered into a public/private partnership in which private developers have put their money where their mouth is in supporting mother Ghana by going and bringing their own resource to develop the properties.
“Clearly if they sense that their investments are in danger then they may take actions which may precipitate further problems for us.
“I think the important thing that we all need to recognise that this is not for [email protected] or the government of Ghana. It's for Ghana and we should critically look at the implications of such actions and our ability to provide a fitting welcome to those we think should join us for our birthday.”
According to Dr. Wereko Brobby, all other projects embarked upon by the secretariat were on course. The La Traditional Council is led in counsel by the former Speaker of Parliament, Peter Ala Adjetey, himself a son of La and until recently a very active member of the ruling New Patriotic Party.