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Tension At LA, As Community Clash With Military Over Land

 Duke Tagoe
5 April 2016 | General News

The Coalition of La Youth Associations and the Board of Trustees of the Dadekotopon Development Trust have asked the Ghana Armed Forces and the Government of Ghana to return all parcels of land that are no longer intended for the purposes for which they were acquired.

According to them, lands that were given out for military purposes are currently being packaged and sold to foreign companies and private businessmen without due regard to the owners of the land.

They have also accused the Military of “fomenting acts of Terror and brutalities against the local people.”

Speaking in very angry terms at a press conference at La in Accra, Augustine Nii Nai, leader of the La Youth Coalition that holds a membership of more than 3000 said “In 1938, the colonial government acquired 798 acres of land for the construction of an Aerodrome which later became a hospitality facility for the military during the 2nd World War and has also become the domicile of the Ghana Armed Forces.”

According to him, in a display of solidarity with the government after independence and in cooperation with the call to nation building and as a kind gesture, the progressive people of La Dadekotopon sacrificed huge portions of land for the promotion of agriculture and education.

He said the La people gave land for the construction of the George Padmore Research Farm, the Amrahia Diary Project and the Animal Research Farm. In the fields of education, lands were also granted for the establishment of the University of Ghana, the University of Professional Studies, the Institute of Local Government Studies, the Accra College of Education and the Presby Boys Secondary School.

“In the face of these generous contributions we have made to the development of this nation without the payment of royalties to the traditional council, our farmers, spiritual leaders and young men and women are oppressed and treated with contempt and gross insubordination” he said.

Colonel Gyeke Asante, Director of Legal Services of the Ghana Armed Forces, in a response to a letter written by La Mantse, Nii Kpobi Tettey Tsuru III on the 2ndof December 2015, to the Chief of Defence Staff drawing his attention to “the devastation and the environmental hazard that a division of the Ghana Army was causing by winning sand at Kpeletso-an area outside of the boundaries of the military, warned that “The La Traditional Council had no natural or legal right over the said land and that the current activities carried out by the Military on the land is consistent with the purposes for which the land was acquired.”

Negotiations For the Acquisition of Land for a Military Buffer

Following a request for the acquisition of land situate at East Dadekotopon by the Ghana Armed Forces for the establishment of a safety and security buffer zone for the Ghana Military on the 8th of July 2014, the Attorney General, Marrieta Brew, directed the composition of a team composed of Government officials and representatives of the East Dadekotopon Development Trust.

The government team included Dr Dominic Ayine, Deputy Attorney General, Maj. General B.G Saagbul, Cdre B.F Asante and Cdre S.W Anim amongst others. Mr E. Odoi-Yemo, Mr Ebenezer Lassey-Quaye, Mr Joseph Adjei and L.S.N Akuetteh represented the East Dadekotopon Development Trust.

In a letter dated 7th April 2015, addressed to Col. M. K Gyekye-Asante and the Directorate of Legal Services of the Ghana Armed Forces, Mr Dominic Ayine, Deputy Attorney General, stated that “It was abundantly evident from the negotiations and from all the documentations made available for that purpose that the Ghana Armed Forces have not disputed the fact that the land the subject matter of the negotiations belongs to the East Dadekotopon Development Trust.”

Justice Oppong in a ruling on a case brought before the High Court between the East Dadekotopon Development Trust and the Attorney General stated “that although it is the duty of the state to acquire any land under the State Lands Act as provided by law, it must pay due compensation to the owners thereof.”

He further stated that “until the state paid the compensation, it has no business to act in a manner inconsistent with plaintiff’s (East Dadekotopon Development Trust) ownership of the land.”

In the circumstances, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice advised that the Ghana Armed Forces commence the formal processes if it intended to proceed with the acquisition of the 2, 456 acres of land for the creation of the security buffer zone, to pay promptly adequate compensation to the current owners of the land respecting the legitimate security and public purpose to which the land will be put.

The letter also stated that “until the compensation has been paid, the Ghana Armed Forces must not engage in acts of trespass to the land or by means of the use of force seek to prevent the current land owners from developing their land.”

In spite of the advice from the Attorney General, a troupe of soldiers numbering 200 blocked a bus conveying a group of journalists to the aforementioned site last Wednesday when the bus was ordered to divert course when it reached the Palmwine Junction within the La metropolis.

According to the La Youth Coalition and the Dadekotopon Development Trust, the Military has encroached upon the 2, 456 acres of land and construction works are currently ongoing in blatant violation of the ruling of the High Court and the advice of the Attorney General.

Salomey Pattison, a protesting member of La Youth Coalition expressed disgust and displeasure when she stated that: “ The Military no longer operates with dignity and discipline. They are looting our lands and handing them over to private people to build expensive houses which we, the owners of the land cannot afford. The land they are seeking to take is not for any security buffer, they are taking it for the rich men, and private estate companies and we shall fight this corruption of the Military with all our might. They are taking advantage of the Military uniforms to do business and that is a crime against the people.”

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