[ 2010-08-24 ]
What Happened to Land Reform In Ghana?
For the past 50 years, as long as I can remember,
Ghana has been battling with land reforms. But it
is apparent that little has changed. With a
complicated mishmash of stool lands, state lands
and skin lands, worsened by multiple land sales by
some unscrupulous chiefs and corrupt public
servants from the Lands Commission, purchasing and
registering land for home building, farming and
industry have become living nightmares.
The convoluted set of regulations has overtime
spawned a cottage industry that is fraught with
deceit, graft and plain day-light robbery. The
unwitting victims of many of these scams
perpetrated by some officials of the Lands
Commission are fellow Ghanaians living abroad who
scrape to invest back home.
Horror stories abound. My own personal saga with
officials of the Lands Commission illustrates the
frustrations of Ghanaians like me, and the crass
inefficiency, corruption and bad faith that the
Lands Commission in Ghana has come to symbolize.
I bought a piece of land at East Legon Annex near
Accra in 1990. In order to register the land, I
have had to prepare six indentures to date. The
reasons are numerous; initially there was a freeze
by the government as a result of a rift among the
stool land Teshie Nungua chiefs from whom I
purchased the land. Consequently, no one could
register land within that locality. When the
freeze was lifted I re-started the registration
Two decades have passed, and I have not been able
to register the land. The sad reality is that some
officials who were working on my case have passed
away, others migrated and some have left
officially relocated making any contact extremely
impossible. Each of these events resulted in the
disappearance of the documents. Why does the Lands
Commission allow employees to take land documents
they are working on away from the office as if it
were their personal property?
One Mr. Akufu was the first to work on my document
in 1990. He was stationed at Accra but later on
became a divisional head at Ho in the Volta
Region. However, he maintained an office in Accra
so he was commuting between the two cities. Mr.
Akufu apparently died in a car accident in
December 2001 or there about.
Following this another indenture was prepared but
when it was presented for registration, I was told
that the site plan on the indenture was not valid.
This was the time a digital surveyor’s equipment
was introduced. The Surveyor General’s office had
to certify the site plan. All this was done but
still I wasn’t able to register.
I should note that anytime I prepared a new
document it cost me dearly. Never mind the fact
that I had to re-purchase the land again from the
newly installed stool land chief after the one
from whom I bought the land died. And of course, I
had to prepare a new indenture.
I don’t remember all of the names of the Lands
Commission officials who worked on the land
documents over the years. The reason is that
whenever you paid money to them they refused to
issue a receipt. They claim that in Ghana, you do
not ask for a receipt when someone is conducting a
business for you. Doing so is an indication that
you don’t trust them. But this has nothing to do
with trust. Getting a receipt from a party you
conduct business with rather ensures that a
legitimate transaction has taken place.
But what stunned me the most about this whole
episode is, at one point after resubmitting the
document for registration I received a rejection
letter from Mr. Graham Addison, a Senior Records
Assistant of the Lands Commission at Cantoments
Accra that read: “I RETURN HEREWITH DOCUMENT
number. such and such IN QUARDRUPLICATE TO YOU,
AND REGRET TO INFORM YOU OF OUR INABILITY TO
PROCESS SAME IN VIEW OF UNFAVOURABLE RECORDS
REPORT REVEALING AN EARLIER RECORDED TRANSACTION.”
They copied one Ms. Amina Alhassan Braimah the
apparent favorite recipient whose plot is several
yards away, across the street from mine. This in
short meant that I was not in a position to
register my land.
Mr. Sammy Ofori is the next employee of the Lands
Commission at the Cantoments office to take the
task of helping me register my land. His charges
are Two million Old Cedis with one million paid to
start and the balance paid after producing the
registered documents. After several phone calls
to Ghana to talk to Mr. Ofori failed to yield
results, I dispatched my nephew who was visiting
Ghana from the UK in July 2008 to go the Lands
Commission where he met Mr. Ofori. But Mr. Ofori
played games with nephew until his time was up
when he returned to the UK empty handed.
Again in December, 2008 I authorized my brother-in
law who also visited Ghana from Chicago for the
Christmas Holidays to contact Mr. Ofori to resolve
this once and for all amicably. But as usual, my
brother-in laws too, run into the same cat and
mouse game, Mr. Ofori has been playing with me
since March 2008 when I started phoning him.
In August, 2009 someone recommended that I contact
a Lands Commission lawyer by the name of Kwame
Poku-Buah for help. Initially, Poku-Buah was
sympathetic when I spoke with him on the phone.
Upon reviewing my documents, and realizing that
the alleged Mrs. Alhassan had not responded to any
of the official Lands Commission invitation
letters sent to her, it was Poku-Buah’s view that
everything was in my favor.
Poku-Buah recommended that I hired a new surveyor,
Mr. Martin Ayigbor, to go to the sites; both mine
and Mrs. Alhassan’s to draw up a new site plan. A
Deed of Variation was prepared, Teshie-Nungua
elders were contacted for their signatures, the
Deed of Variation was registered with the Courts,
and documents presented for processing by
But another bomb shell was communicated to me by
my representatives on Monday, November 30, 2009.
Thus, the final documents that Poku-Buah presented
for registration at the Regional Office were
returned because of Mrs. Alhassan. If Lawyer
Poku-Buah knew this all along, why did he
recommend that I spend $1,500.00 to go thru this
process, as if I was just buying the piece of
In view the mismanagement, fraud and other
inefficiencies, the government of Ghana for many
years sought funds from foreign countries to come
to her rescue. The World Bank‘s Board of Directors
approved an IDA credit of US$20 million Dollars in
2003 to assist Ghana reform land administration
practices. What has become of all the attempts the
government has been making to streamline the
process of land acquisition and registration?
I am aware of a Lands Commission Bill passed by
parliament into law on October 29, 2008. The
Bill’s aim was to create a one-stop-shop for land
administration. It would consolidate all seven
agencies responsible for land matters, such as the
Land Title Registry, Land Valuation Board and
others under one umbrella to buttress land
This new law, if implemented in a transparent
manner not only would it eliminate waste,
duplication, misplacement of documents,
corruption, anxieties and lack of trust of the
government. But it would create a better filling
system for easy retrieval of records and
Additionally, since the agency collects fees from
individuals and companies alike when registering
land, it would boost the revenue the government
needs to run its infrastructure projects to enable
it develop the country without relying too much on
foreign help. We need to hold our public officials
accountable to develop Ghana with local funding
for a better Ghana instead of mortgaging the
country to foreigners.
One of the lessons of history is that men do not
learn from history. Also, repeating the same
mistakes over and over again with the hope to
achieve a different result is another definition
of insanity. Ghana must learn from history if it
wants to achieve any significant progress in
God Bless our homeland Ghana.
Source - Thomas A. Djan, California, US
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Enrique, PUFOyUeIr 2012-12-11 (08:19:12)