The Paramount Chief of New Ningo in the Dangbe West District of the Greater Accra region is dead, but in the trail of his tragic death is a potentially explosive land litigation which could consume lives beyond imagination.
Nene Gidigago Djangmah III, the late overlord of New Ningo Prampram was alleged to have sold parcels of land; including two cemeteries to highly placed people in government and rich individuals (names withheld for now) to the disappointment of the youth and people of Ningo.
Great Ningo has become the new target of land grabbing following the depletion of Accra lands, with some politically powerful and financially influential people leading the mad rush for the poor peoples' lands.
In the mad rush for Ningo lands the late Nene Gidigago sold a Christian cemetery to a former governor of the Bank of Ghana. In addition, about ten acres of the pagan cemetery was also sold to a businessman of Lebanese decent who owns a four-star hotel in Accra, leaving the people with no place to bury the dead. School and recreational lands, people's farms and areas earmarked for development projects were also sold out.
When asked where the chief was buried since he had sold the cemeteries, a source disclosed that he was buried in his room contrary to Ningo tradition that people who die through accidents are not to be buried at home.
Public Agenda has learnt that since the chief's tragic death in a motor accident on the Tema motorway some angry clan members of Ningo are on the move to recover whatever is left of their lands. They are pulling down walls, pillars and foundation blocks of estate developers, while bracing up for war and bloodshed in case those 'powerful' people attempt to stop them.
An intervention by the members of the Great Ningo Development Forum, which has Professor Jerome S. Djangmah, former Secretary for Education, as its chairman to stop the embarrassing land sales and to prevent those they say were 'intruders' from taking their lands was often met with fierce police and security brutalities.
According to our sources every attempt to seek protection against the indiscriminate sale of their lands from the courts proved futile because of the involvement of the powerful actors.
Public Agenda's sources explained that following the sale of the pagan cemetery in 2004, they took the case to the court, but the court failed to stop this powerful Lebanese businessman from developing the land.
They further explained that unlike other tribes, Ningo lands are not owned by the chief. “There are no stool lands as far as the people of Ningo are concerned. All lands belong to clans and families and thus the late chief had no authority disposing off lands which did not belong to him,” a source told Public Agenda.
According to the source, Ningo lands belong to the eight clans of the area. These include the Asede clan, the Lowerh Adainya clan where the paramount chief, Nene Gidigago comes from, the Wegobon clan and the Aniamorsi clan. The rest are the Saunya, the Ohenease, the Sasraku and the Kabiawe clans. “And all these lands which have been sold are not for the Lowerh Adainya clan. We will take our lands back. No one can stop us. Where shall we bury our people?” the source queried.
As at press time, efforts were being made by some members of Ningo to get all members of the community to sit on the issue and decide the next course of action. The situation was reported to be calm since none of the 'powerful people' had yet showed up to claim the lands.
Watch out for part two of the unfolding drama, as we make efforts to contact the High Office of the nation.