I Never Said Gov’t Uses Landguards
– Chief Director Tells PAC
The chief director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Professor Patrick Agbesinyale, has refuted the claim that government engages the services of landguards to assist in reclaiming government lands taken over by encroachers.
Professor Agbesinyale, who appeared before the Public Account Committee (PAC) yesterday, Wednesday, July 19, 2023,said he did not mention landguards during his submission before the committee.
He indicated that, the use of the word “land-guards” is something no one would like to be associated with and, therefore, he takes strong exception to the statement attributed to him.
“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,” he explained.
According to the chief director, “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.”
The ministry and three of its agencies, led by adeputy minister, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, appeared before the PAC, on behalf of the sector minister, to explain some infractions that were recorded by the auditor-general during the 2020 accounting year.
The agencies are Lands Commission, Forestry Commission and the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands.
Earlier in a statement issued by the ministry, he said, “The Ministry would like to set the record straight that government and, for that matter, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources do not contract the services of land guards in its operations.
“However, the Ministry through its agency Lands Commission legally engaged the services of Aynok Holding Limited, a registered limited liability company, to assist in reclaiming encroached government lands. The engagement has been in effect since 2012.
“We wish to state categorically that government and, by extension, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources employs a legal process to reclaim all encroached state lands,” the ministry said in a statement.
It would be recalled, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, Alhassn Suhuyini, on Monday, July 17, alleged that the chief director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has revealed a land guard has been contracted to protect state lands.
Suhuyini said this came to light during an engagement that the Lands and Forestry Committee of Parliament had with the ministry.
Speaking to journalists in Parliament, he raised concerns against dealing with a person whose activities have been outlawed.
He also said the committee is requesting to know the terms and conditions of the said contract.
“In our engagement, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources ’chief director revealed, shockingly, that the ministry has resorted to engaging a land guard to retrieve and protect government lands.
“Mind you, these are lands that are held on behalf of the people of Ghana and vested in the President to protect it. I am sure that the framers of the Constitution are aware that the President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and he is seized with the capacity to ensure that these lands are protected for our common use, that is why the lands are vested in the president, and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is the Ministry tasked with the responsibility of overseeing these lands.
“So for the Ministry to tell us the lack of capacity of the state to protect these lands that are put in trust but to resort to the services of people whose activities have been outlawed for the protection of these lands came to us as a surprise.
“We have therefore demanded from the Ministry the terms and conditions of that unholy relationship between the Ministry and this land guard and his institution. We cannot pass laws that we do not intend to keep,” Suhuyini stated.