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03.09.2004 Regional News

Association threatens to demonstrate against Lands Commission

By GNA

Sunyani, Sept 03, GNA - Members of the Association of Sunyani Stool Subjects have threatened to demonstrate against the Lands Commission for its unconstitutional conduct in the administration of Sunyani stool lands.

In a petition that Mr Noah Osei Appiah, chairman, and Mr. Peter Yaw Oppong, Secretary signed and addressed to the President, the association said the operations of the Lands Commission had worked to the detriment of subjects of Sunyani stool lands.

"We do not recognize the Lands Commission as a body to demarcate Sunyani stool lands because it has not got the mandate to perform such a function", it said.

"We do not understand why a state institution should forcibly take our property... and we unequivocally state that we cannot be foreigners in our birth place".

The petitioners explained that the stool lands were vested in the stool in trust for subjects of the stool.

The power conferred on the President by Act 27 Executive Instrument 46, which was enacted in 1961, vested Sunyani stool lands in trust for the stool.

''The Executive Instrument did not make the President the owner of the land but a trustee of the stool, the Association said.''

The Association said large portions of their farmlands had been acquired by the state but no compensation had been paid to the affected farmers.

"Large portions of Sunyani stool lands have also been zoned for residential purposes but compensation has not been paid to the affected families who have also not been given portions of their ancestral lands to build on."

The association said the continuing vesting of Sunyani lands in the President violated Article 267(1) of the 1992 Constitution, "which has vested all stool lands in Ghana in the appropriate stools in accordance with customs and usage." It said the Statutory Planning Committee had zoned a large potion of Sunyani stool lands for development and had allocated a small portion to the affected families but has asked them to pay for the land allocated to them.

"We reject the formulae used by the Lands Commission since it is not in the interest of subjects of the stool and we do not understand why we should buy our own land."

Nana Asor Nkrawiri II, the Omanhene of Sunyani Traditional Area, said in reaction that the association members were fighting for their rights "since the people have been cheated by the Lands Commission and are therefore reacting out of frustration".

He said the Traditional Council was also preparing to take legal action against the commission, had written a letter to the commission on the issue and was waiting for a reply. "It is only in Sunyani that chiefs are not involved in the allocation of lands for development and are not also given compensation from lands allocated," he said.

Mr Sandy Mensah, the Brong Ahafo Regional Lands Officer, told the He said in every scheme the Commission gave them a maximum of between 25 and 30 plots and that the commission liased with the Sunyani Traditional Council before undertaking any layout.

Mr Mensah said family heads conducted the demarcation with surveyors, gave names for each scheme, were paid royalties and given plots through the Traditional Council.

"They are even gaining from the commission's operations", he said and alleged that the problem emanated from the conduct of the family heads who tended to sell the allocated plots to other people instead of their family members.

"They are given allocations in every scheme we undertake. They just want to throw dust into people's eyes," Mr Mensah said and showed lists of beneficiaries of plots since 1997.

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