According to reports, the government hires land guard to retake encroached areas.
According to reports, the State hired a land guard to assist in reclaiming encroached areas.
The Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act, 999), which expressly criminalises such conduct, was passed in spite of this.
According to Section 7(5) of the Act, no one shall, directly or indirectly, engage a land guard to guard or safeguard their own or another person’s property. According to Section 7(6), violators of Subsection (5) are guilty of an offence and subject to a sentence of imprisonment of between 10 and 15 years upon conviction.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, Prof Patrick Agbesinyale at a Parliamentary Committee meeting on July, 10, 2023, told the committee that the government uses land guards to avoid backlash.
According to him, the government then apportions some of the reclaimed lands to the land guard as compensation for his work.
“I think the idea was that anytime the government apparatus; the police, military among others are seen going out there to claim lands, you know the hullabaloo and backlash the government receives.”
“So, what they do is that you would set up somebody like this and the government would literally be hiding behind it so he can reclaim government lands.”
“So, I remember that during the claiming process, three people lost their lives. There were gunshots; exchange of fire, and three people lost their lives there. Except that Gyato has a section of the media on site who would cover always – he is a whole set-up.”
The Chief Director also claimed that even the Ghana Armed Forces and the Police procure the services of this same private land guard to protect their lands.
He averred that the contractor, has a special set up of media personnel, national security officials, members of the judiciary and others.
“So, he recently reclaimed some lands for us and out of that land, we gave him 50 of 6,000 acres as payment for all his expenses. So he has the right to and sell that 50. If he is selling it, there is noise all over the place.”
“He doesn’t even sell it. He gives it out for people to develop so that he gets his share. I can give you a tall list of lands that Gyato (land guard) has claimed for us to the extent that even the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service their lands that have been encroached they hire Gyato to reclaim for them.”
As a result, addressing the media, the Deputy Ranking Member on the Lands and Forestry Committee of Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini bemoaned the lack of commitment on the part of the government to combat land guard activities.
“One would have thought that with the passage of this law to outlaw land guards, our land tenure system would have been sanitized, and we would have all been hopeful that acquiring land will no longer be a matter of life and death, and so it came to us as a surprise that the Ministry has resorted to contracting a land guard to protect government lands.”
“The other shocking revelation according to the Chief Director is that even the Ghana Armed Forces and the Police use this same land guard to protect their lands. So, if the military and the police cannot protect their own lands and have to resort to the use of a land guard, then what will be the fate of the common Ghanaian who wants to acquire land and is faced with land guards?”
“What was again scandalous by the Chief Director’s revelation is that this particular land guard has a set-up the state cannot compete,” Mr. Suhuyini added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry in a press statement issued on Monday, July 17, has denied the allegations.
“The Ministry would like to set the records straight that government and for that matter the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources does 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. This engagement has been in effect since 2012.”