Chiefs and Elders of the Osu Traditional Area have served notice to engage government officials on plan to release the Achimota Forest lands.
This was announced by Acting Chairman of Osu Stool Dzaase, Mr. Ben Quaye at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday September 27.
President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently signed an EI to declassify portions of the reserve.
“The District Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority with jurisdiction over the land specified in the schedule, shall, within three months after the coming into force of this instrument, prepare for the approval of the Minister [of Lands], a master plan for the development of the land specified in the schedule,” the document said.
The development created controversy on social media with some indicating the forest reserve has been sold.
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor dismissed reports that the Forest reserve in Accra has been sold.
He said the natural resource was not for sale and would not be sold.
At the press conference on, the Acting Chairman of Osu Stool Dzaase, Mr. Ben Quaye explained that the Osu stool is the only allodia owner of the Achimota Forest and other Osu established settlements during their migration from Osudoku to their present location.
“Clearly, any release of portions of the Achimota Forest to any person or persons, other than the Osu Stool will be unlawful therefore.
“In the coming weeks, the Chief and Elders of Osu will engage the appropriate authorities in government to iron out all issues regarding any contemplated/ planned release of the Achimota Forest lands. Additionally, and without exception, there shall be various actions to recover Osu Stool lands fraudulently acquired while also regularizing irregular titles on lands belonging to the Osu Stool.
“Quite recently, there have been various publications, interviews and discussions from sections of the Ga Community regarding ownership of the Achimota Forest Lands. We wish to advise members of the Ga Community as a whole to desist from any frivolous claims to the Achimota Forest. Decisions of the colonial courts regarding ownership of the said lands are in the statute books of the state. We expect all stakeholders to respect these decisions and not to delude themselves into thinking that there are no documents on the lands afore-mentioned.”
Below is his full address…
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE OSU STOOL
Ladies and gentlemen of the press; we welcome you to today’s press conference to address critical issues facing the Osu Traditional area. As partners in development, we believe that the media has a crucial part to play in amplifying these issues to help bring relevant attention to the issues as we work together to address them.
OSU STOOL LANDS AND BOUNDARIES
First, permit me to touch on the sometimes misrepresented issues bothering on the Osu Land Boundaries. Quite recently there have been several statements and claims made in the print and electronic media in respect of ownership of some lands in Greater Accra with regrettably mendacious arguments as to the right owners of the land.
As owners and custodians of Osu lands, we consciously refrain ourselves from making comments on the issues because we have commissioned a body with the appropriate legal competence to critically examine the issues and to present clear understanding of the situation. Several documents including court judgements and proceedings dating back into colonial times were examined, and critical findings were made some of which we hope to highlight at this press conference.
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana provides that all stool lands shall be vested in the appropriate stool on behalf of, and held in trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage. Lands and resources acquired by our ancestors have for many years been under the authority as pertains in other traditional jurisdictions in other regions. The Osu Stool Lands share boundaries from the east coast of Gulf of Guinea with the La stool at the river Obenesu and extends northwards through Shiashi to the left side of Okponglo on the Dodowa road to Ayi Mensah. On the west side Osu shares boundaries with the Gbese Stool at the river Dodokwe and continues to Kokomlemle through to the right side of Kwabenya and to the north with Akwapim people.
Over the years, our rights to own, develop and control our lands, territories and resources have been jeopardized by interference with outsiders, threatening our very existence and our identity as people of a particular origin.
These interferences in the Stool’s managements of its lands which includes fraudulent land transactions and conveyances without the consent and concurrence of the Stool amongst others, have far reaching consequences on the indigenes of Osu and this practice ought to be curtailed or cease forthwith.
All Osu lands are vested in the Stool and therefore it is essential that all land transactions are conducted with the consent and concurrence of the Stool and the principal elders of Osu in other to avoid creating voidable conveyances. We will not stand in the way of persons who acquire interest in Osu lands for the purposes of development, provided such acquisitions are obtained lawfully. Over the years, THERE HAVE BEEN ACQUISITIONS OF Osu lands by governments with the objective of socio-economic development for the public good. It is trite knowledge that in situations where such lands are not used for the purposes for which they were acquired, it has been our long-cherished expectation and in conformity with provisions of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana such lands shall revert to the original owners.
On the contrary, there have been numerous instances of wilful infraction of this fundamental legal provision to an extent that lands acquired by the State end up in individual names and such situations could hardly be described as ‘public interest’ initiative/s.
THE ACHIMOTA FOREST LANDS AND THE OWOO FAMILY OF OSU
The subject matter of the release of lands in the Achimota forest is of concern to the Osu Stool, mainly because the right recognition has not been given to the appropriate stake holders in order to obviate court actions in the future.
The Achimota forest is one of the villages established by the people of Osu in course of their migration from Osudoku enroute to Christiansborg where the indigenes are largely settled now. Other villages established by the people of Osu include but not limited to Haatso, Papao, Legon, Achimota, Jawuro (Dzorwulu) and many others.
In various land matters involving acquisitions by the colonial governments as well as other lands cases, the judgements of the colonial courts have clearly taken the positions that all Osu lands are held ONLY by the stool as allodia owners. These decisions have gone as far as confirming that there are no Quarter, Family or individual allodia ownerships of Osu lands.
In the 1951 judgement of Jackson J, sitting at the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast, Eastern Judicial Division (Land Division), held at Victoriaborg, Accra and captioned ‘In the matter of the Public Lands Ordinance Re-Land acquired for University College Accra’, the claim of the Owoo family as allodia owners of land acquired for the University of Ghana campus was dismissed among other reasons. It was also clearly established that the Owoos had manufactured evidence to establish ownership of the said lands, which at the time of acquisition, and before then were being farmed largely by Osu people as subjects to Osu Stool.
In the matter of Achimota land acquired by the government of the Gold Coast Colony under Certificate of Title No. 869/1921 earlier on, the compensation paid to the Owoo family and the Oku family was not on the basis of ownership, but for loss of settlement and livelihood. The compensation was paid to the Owoo family’s right to be on the land as subjects of the Osu Stool. It is important to emphasize that the compensation was not only paid to the Owoo family but was shared between the Owoo and Oku families.
The Osu stool is the only allodia owner of the Achimota Forest and other Osu established settlements during their migration from Osudoku to their present location. Clearly, any release of portions of the Achimota Forest to any person or persons, other than the Osu Stool will be unlawful therefore.
In the coming weeks, the Chief and Elders of Osu will engage the appropriate authorities in government to iron out all issues regarding any contemplated/ planned release of the Achimota Forest lands. Additionally, and without exception, there shall be various actions to recover Osu Stool lands fraudulently acquired while also regularizing irregular titles on lands belonging to the Osu Stool.
Quite recently, there have been various publications, interviews and discussions from sections of the Ga Community regarding ownership of the Achimota Forest Lands. We wish to advise members of the Ga Community as a whole to desist from any frivolous claims to the Achimota Forest. Decisions of the colonial courts regarding ownership of the said lands are in the statute books of the state. We expect all stakeholders to respect these decisions and not to delude themselves into thinking that there are no documents on the lands afore-mentioned.
OSU KAAJANO, OSU CHILDREN’S HOME AND CANTOMENTS LANDS
The 1902 judgements established Obenesu River as Osu La boundary. There should be no denying the fact that Osu Home School near Kaajano Estate, Osu Children’s Home near Cantonments and all road networks in Nyaniba Estates are named with the identity with the four Quarters of Osu.
It is our believe and we sincerely hope that our brothers from La will understand the issue at stake and endeavour not to confuse political demarcations with traditional boundaries. Our Chieftaincy dispute is the cause of these confusions but Osu will ensure that the right thing is done during the creation of electoral boundaries in order to preserve the peace we are currently enjoying.
ABELENKPE, MAAMOBI AND DZORWULU LANDS
We are also working assiduously on asserting our claims of Abelenkpe, Maamobi and Dzorwulu lands. Additionally, our legal team is critically assessing the issues relating to our lands and at the right time will commence the necessary discussions and if plausible initiate appropriate legal actions against other traditional areas, institutions and individuals to stake our claims.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we want to end this conference by edging all indigenes of Osu to remain united and steadfast in the midst of these disturbing and worrying circumstances. We also want to express our appreciation to you for honouring this invitation and pray that you provide very fair coverage of this press conference.