The Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Prof. Patrick Agbesinyale has refuted claims suggesting that government engages the services of Landguards to assist in reclaiming encroached government lands.
Appearing before the Public Account Commitee (PAC) on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, Prof. Agbesinyale elaborated his statement to the committee, saying: “I think I take exception to that reportage”.
“I think land guard unfortunately is a terminology that all of us don’t want to be associated with, at least we know what land guards are, they are illegal entities that operate and engage in all forms of criminal activities. I can’t imagine saying government uses land guards. We cannot attribute land guards to our respectable security agencies; it’s unfair and I personally take a very strong exception to that, because I never mentioned land guard in my submission to the committee, I never.”Prof. Patrick Agbesinyale
Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources appears before PAC
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and three of its Agencies led by the Deputy Minister Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, on behalf of the sector minister appeared, before the PAC to explain some infractions that were recorded by the Auditor General during the 2020 accounting year. The Agencies are Lands and Forestry Commissions, as well as the office of the Administrator of Stool Lands.
It will be recalled that the Tamale South MP, Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini, alleged that government confessed to entering into a contract with land guards.
According to him, the Chief Director of the Ministry Prof. Patrick Agbesinyale at a Parliamentary Select Committee meeting on 10th July, 2023, disclosed before the committee that anytime the Government apparatus: the police, military among others are seen going out there to claim lands, they are confronted with some backlash. Owing to this, Mr Suhuyini stated that Prof Agbesinyale noted that government sets up a land guard and it “would literally be hiding behind it so he can reclaim government lands”.
The Deputy Ranking Member on Lands and Forestry Committee of Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini, averred that if the institutions mandated to protect lives and property cannot even protect their own property, then ordinary citizens are not safe.
Following this, the lands ministry debunked claims of its association with land guards, as referred to by Prof Agbesinyale. Also, Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) expressed its disappointment in reports that it has contracted the services of land guards to protect its lands.
According to GAF, it has monitored with dismay, a news story alleging that it uses the services of land guards to reclaim its encroached lands.
Furthermore, GAF assured all well-meaning Ghanaians that the allegation is false and should be treated with the contempt it deserves. Accordingly, it urged the media and the public not to hesitate to contact the Department of Public Relations to clarify stories of this nature before publishing them.
Following suit, the Police Administration equally refuted the claim by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, with respect to procuring the services of land guards to reclaim and protect its lands. It categorically stated that the claim is, “false, baseless and unfounded”, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.
Commenting on the issue, a Security Analyst at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPKTC), Victor Doke, called for an investigation into the operations of the private company that has been contracted by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to reclaim and protect state lands. He stated that it is important to know who the directors of the company are and how much has been paid to them to do the work.