23 People Claim Ownership Of Aveyime Rice Project Site

Twenty-three different individuals and families have claimed ownership of the 20,799 acres on which the Aveyime Rice Project is sited.

The situation has made it impossible for the government to pay compensation on the land which was acquired for Quality Grain Ltd in the 1990s for the cultivation of rice.

So far, only one claimant, Togbe Bormorde Siameh, has provided proof in a court of law of the ownership of 1,834.84 acres of the total land, a situation which has led the court to order the payment of compensation to him.

This came to light at the sitting of the Sole Commissioner on Judgement Debt in Accra yesterday.

It was also revealed that the chiefs and people of Kwadaso Abe Ase in Kumasi have received GH¢11.59 million as compensation for the acquisition of the land on which the Second Infantry Brigade of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) is sited.

The land was acquired by the Nkrumah government in 1962 but no compensation was paid until Nana Kwaku Duah Appianin III, the traditional head of the area, and his elders initiated legal action in 2008 for the payment.

An officer of the Valuation Division of the Lands Commission, Mr Kwesi Bentsi-Enchill, told the Sole Commissioner, Mr Justice Yaw Apau that no compensation had been paid to any of the claimants to the Aveyime Rice Project land because of the conflict over ownership.

According to him, not even Togbe Siameh, who had been able to prove that indeed he owned a portion of the land, had been paid.

He said the Lands Commission had told the feuding parties to resolve the conflict over ownership in a court of law to enable the government to pay compensation to the rightful owners but the advice had not been heeded.

Until that was done, he said, no money would be released because there was the likelihood that any money so paid would go into the wrong hands.

Mr Bentsi-Enchill said the land had been acquired through due process and that Executive Instrument (EI) 15 regarding the acquisition was in existence.

Counsel for Nana Appianin, Mr Kwaku Afrifah Nsiah-Asare, told the commissioner that the land acquired for the establishment of the Second Brigade was done so compulsorily in 1962. However, no EI on the acquisition had been sighted by the people.

He said in 2002, the traditional leaders in the area initiated dialogue with the Ministry of Defence for the payment of compensation but due to feet-dragging on the part of the ministry, the people sought the intervention of the courts.

Mr Bentsi-Enchill said the Kumasi office of the Lands Commission had been involved in the valuation of the land and said while the people valued the land at GH¢14.4 million, the commission put the value at GH¢7.3 million.

Following disagreements between the two parties on what the actual value was, he said a re-valuation was done, which put the final figure at GH¢11.59 million.

According to him, during the dialogue with the Ministry of Defence on the payment of compensation, the military authorities stated that the failure of the government to meet its obligations was because different groups claimed ownership and the GAF was unable to ascertain the truth regarding the claims.

He said the government had failed to pay for part of the land, totalling 90 acres, with the excuse that the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) had taken over that portion and hinted that the people in the area might head back to the courts on that issue.

Earlier, the Solicitor Secretary of the Lands Commission, Mr Kwame Poku Buah, had told the Sole Commissioner that he had not sighted any document regarding the writ filed at the court against the government by Nana Appianin.

He said the Lands Commission did not know about the existence of any EI on the acquisition of the Second Infantry Brigade lands.

He noted that if the land was properly acquired, the Lands Commission could not be “side-stepped” in the payment of compensation.