Aveyime Compensation Payment Takes New Twist

Justice Apau
It has emerged that part of the land for which GH¢3.2 million and GH¢530,628.44 were paid as compensation to the Carmichael Company in the Aveyime Livestock Project has been leased to another company for banana plantation.

Kwesi Kobea Bentsi-Enchil, chief valuer in charge of compensations at the Land Commission disclosed this at the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payments of judgement debts in Accra yesterday.

On Tuesday, Seth Mensah Dumoga, head of Legal at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) appeared before the commission presided over by Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau and said the ministry did not even know about the Carmichael Family or Christopher Michel who were said to have been paid the amounts.

However, Kwadwo Awua-Peasah, the Director in charge of External Resource Mobilization (Bilateral) at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had already confirmed the payment and said it was done in two tranches totalling about GH¢2.6million.

It is on record that the government acquired the cattle ranch through an Executive Instrument and evidence before the commission indicated a whopping $2.4million and additional $240,000 were paid to the claimants for the acquisition.

According to Mr. Bentsi-Enchil, a grant of the lease covering 1,104.127 acres was given to an investor called Musah Hamat Farms for a banana plantation and per the documents the lessor is the Volta Regional Lands Commission and it is part of the Aveyime acquisition.

‘The lease to Musah Hamat Farms is for a 1,715.59 hectors which is 4,239.32 acres. Now, 1,104.127 of the lease land to Musah Hamat Farms overlaps the Bator claim site,’ he revealed.

‘I do know that some funds have been voted towards the payment of compensation for the Musah Hamad Farms but with all these revelations, if it turns out that the area of Messrs Bator Agricultural Industries Limited where D. Carmichael is recorded as the managing director, was paid then compensation cannot be paid a second time.’

The chief valuer said the only thing that will be left to pay will be what he called ‘the freehold interest’ adding, ‘but the entire land of Messrs Bator Agricultural Industries Limited is in conflict with all the other claims and the AG in a memo to Justice D.F. Annan back in the days highlighted all these so if they have gone ahead and paid to Carmichael Family or Messrs Bator Agricultural Industries Limited then there could be issues to resolve.’

He said there are other claimants to the land adding ‘what I will plead with the commission is to order all relevant institutions who worked on the payment of the Carmichael Family compensation to furnish the Lands Commission with all the documents on the transaction so we can update our records for the good of the state.’

Earlier, the Volta River Authority (VRA) Acting Corporate Estate Manager, Emmanuel Tetteh Martey, assisted by Konrad Asiedu, the supervising counsel for VRA testified on the VRA acquisition and said when the dam was constructed, the government created 52 resettlement sites for the communities displayed.

He said cash compensation was paid for the farms and also said that they followed the VRA Act as well as State Land Act to execute their mandate.

Mr. Martey said there was no valuation for lands in the flooded areas and E.I. 98 of 1974 was used to acquire the lakebed.

‘By 1971, the VRA had been requested to wash its hands off the acquisition issue. We do not have records to show any stool submitted a claim in those days.’

National Chairman of the Lands Commission Alhaji Bakari Saddique Nyare also testified in the VRA case and said the then Lands Valuation Board followed due process in ascertaining the quantum of the compensation claims.

Mr. Bensti-Enchil who had accompanied the national chairman also added that the commission does not recommend compensation for individuals who had no title before acquisition but try to put in a claim.

Andrews Kingsley Kufe of the Controller and Accountant General’s Department also testified in the GH¢20.3 billion paid by the government to Delta Foods Limited when they had an issue with the Judicial Service in 1999.

He confirmed the payment but said they were yet to retrieve the payment instruction letter from the Ministry of Finance from archives.

By William Yaw Owusu

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