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15.05.2009 General News

Chiefs battle government over land

By Issah Alhassan, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle
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THE CHIEFS and people of Paakoso Aborokaase in the Asawase Constituency are set to rekindle an old feud between them and the government, if the latter fails to return their ancestral lands which were forcibly taken away from them.

They have, therefore, threatened to advise themselves, should the government fail to return to them lands which were bequeathed to them by their ancestors. About 600 acres of land belonging to the Oheneyere Ataa Pokuaa Stool Lands in Paakoso Aborokaase, and other lands in places such as Fumesua and Kentinkrono in the Ejisu-Juabeng municipality, were said to have been taken by the state in the 1960s, during the regime of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

After seizing the vast lands under the then government policy of controlling all lands in the country, it was released to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for research projects, without paying any compensation to the rightful owners.

Several petitions to successive governments by the Chiefs and people of the area, to have their lands returned to them, have yielded no positive results, even though other affected communities have had theirs returned to them.

However, the chiefs and people of the community, led by Nana Owusu Afriyie II, who is also the “Abrafuohene” of the Asantehene, say they are now ready to battle it out with the government, in a bid to reclaim their lands.

Addressing a cross section of the media at his palace at Paakoso, Nana Owusu Afriyie said they could no longer sit down and watch unconcerned, while their citizens suffer under hardships and abject poverty, simply because they cannot develop lands which legally belong to them.

He said apart from the fact that the government forcibly took the lands away from them, the CSIR did not possess authentic documents to cover the land which they are currently occupying.

“I can prove with authentication that the document covering the acquisition of the land by the CSIR is a fake one, because it was never endorsed by the then Minister in charge of Lands and Mineral Resources, Major Kwame Badu,” he explained.

He said the CSIR had on several occasions turned down an invitation to produce genuine documents covering the land. “They have refused, because they know they are not the rightful owners of the land.”

Nana Owusu Afriyie, who was surrounded by his Queemother and other elders of the community, said the continuous increase in population hadve necessitated the need for the people to repossess their lands, because according to him, the community needs to build schools and other developmental projects.

What seemed to have broken the camel's back, according to the Chief, was that a piece of land, which was earmarked for a cemetery, had also been taken over by the council.

“And when we confronted them, they told us if we do not have any space to bury dead people, we should send them to the Tafo cemetery,” he added, and said the community could no longer withstand the injustice being meted to them on their own land.

Asked if the community would invade the land against the order of the government, Nana Owusu Afriyie answered, “I am a man of peace, and so are my people, but we are appealing to the government, for the last time, and hope that it listens, but if it fails to heed our request, we know what to do.”

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