The Lands Commission last year had to move in swiftly to fight off attempts by some individuals and companies colluding with some of its officials to grab plots of land located in various prime areas in the capital, the B&FT investigations have found.
The land grabbing spree, according to documents sighted by this paper, showed that several plots of lands located in Labone, Cantonments, Ridge, Airport Residential Area, East and South Legon, Kanda, Roman Ridge among others, were given out at highly discounted prices to individuals and companies without the express approval of the National Lands Commission.
Although the transactions, 24 in number, had been given approval by the then Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission head, Ebenezer Kobina Dadson without recourse to the National Lands Commission, they were later reversed after the commission had petitioned the Presidency.
Sources close the Lands Commission told the B&FT the transactions had the blessing of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources which is the supervisory Ministry for the Commission. The Ministry, sources said, sidestepped the National Lands Commission and rather engaged the regional office.
The transactions which took place at the time Nii Osah Mills was the sector minister would have seen lands, some of which had government bungalows, leased to individuals and businesses at giveaway price on the blindside of National Lands Commission, the Constitutional independent body responsible for the operations of the Lands Commission.
The National Lands Commission decision to annul the transactions was not successful until an appeal was sent to the then President John Dramani Mahama who directed with immediate effect that the transactions be revoked and steps further taken to prevent future recurrence.
With the successful cancellation of the transactions in August 2016, the National Lands Commission wrote to the various individuals and entities which had engaged in the transactions asking them to contact the Regional Lands Officer, Mr. Dadson, for a refund of whatever monies paid upon production of the relevant receipts issued acknowledging such payments.
The letter written to the affected lessees withdrawing the various lease agreements did not only describe the deal transactions as “illegal” but stated that the transactions will be expunged from the records of the Lands Commission to effectively render them null and void.
Beyond the 24 transactions reversed, sources close to the Commission say there were other 40 similar deals which were blocked before they could be concluded.
Regarding the fate of the Regional Lands Officer caught at the center of the botched lease agreements, B&FT checks show that he was reposted to the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry pending any punitive action.
Barely a fort night after the reversal of the transactions, September 2016, a mob besieged the office of the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Dr. Wilfred K. Anim-Odame, protesting what was described in media reports as “land issues.”
When contacted by the B&FT regarding the land grabbing spree, officials of the Commission advised that persons seeking to do business with the Commission must follow due process as any other means would not be countenanced