Accra, 17 Nov 2017 (GNA) – The Secretary to the Tema Sakumo shrine, Mr Stephen Ashitey Adjei, has bemoaned the conviction of the Tema Mayor for contempt of court, saying the incurred penalty was totally avoidable.
At a press conference in Tema, Mr. Ashitey Adjei, who is popularly known as Moshake, said the Mayor’s conviction to a fine of Ghc2,500 is an unwholesomeness that has come about due to the incompetence of some people at the Assembly.
« The Ramsar Site land under contention does not belong to the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) and there is a court judgment that firmly establishes this fact. If the people who brief the Mayor at the TMA had done a little research, the Mayor would not have mistakenly issued an order for buildings on it to be demolished, » Moshake said.
According to him, Mr Felix Mensah Nii Annang-La, had only suffered conviction on account of laziness and ignorance of some people around him.
According to him, the Forestry Commission which had jurisdiction over the land is also to blame because if the Commission had carried out its mandate with integrity, there would not have arisen the grey areas that have incurred the Tema Mayor a conviction.
« When former President Obama came to Ghana and said that Ghana did not need strong men but strong institutions, he meant institutions like the Forestry Commission being proactive and not reactive. If the Commission had properly delivered its mandate in respect of that land, the Mayor would not have made the mistake of seeing the land as belonging to TMA, » Moshake said.
Touching on legalities surrounding the Ramsar site, a 252.52 acre swathe which shares boundaries with Sakumono Village, Gold House, Emefs Estates, Old Lashibi township, Klagon village, some sections of Communities 3, 5, 6, 11, 12 and the Motorway, he said the Forestry Commission’s jurisdiction over it had been affirmed by a high court in 2015.
« A lackadaisical Forestry Commission had similarly been sued by a prominent citizen of Nungua who had demanded that the land which had been acquired by government in 1952, be returned to the Nungua Stool because partly, the use for which it had been acquired was not being pursued.
However, Her Ladyship (Mrs.) Rebecca N.S. Sittie, who had presided over, « Nii Bortey Klan and the Nungua Stool Vs. Land Commission, Ministry of Lands, Forestry Commission and the Tema Development Corporation, » had ruled that the land could not be reverted to the Nungua Stool because government’s acquisition under LI 1659 in 1952 held valid, »he said.
He said, »According to the court, Nii Bortey Klan and the Nungua Stool’s invocation of article 20 (5 and 6) of the 1992 Constitution, in attempt to get the land reverted claiming that among others, the land was not being put under the use it was acquired for, was not valid because the 1992 Constitution could not be applied retrospectively.
The land had been confirmed to be under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Commission because the government had paid the necessary compensation to acquire it through the TDC in 1952 and later transferred it to the Wild Life Division of the Forestry Commission, »he noted.
« That transfer was under the tenet of the international treaty of wetlands which the Government of Ghana ratified in 1988. The Ramsar Site was acquired under the Wetlands Management Regulation 1999 (LI 1659), » Moshake said.
According to him, the Forestry Commission is therefore the agency with jurisdiction over that land and not the TMA.
« The court judgment which affirmed this is publicly available and so I do not understand why those who are supposed to brief the Mayor did not bring this to his attention leading to Annang-La incurring court conviction over it, » Moshake lamented.
Mr Felix Mensah Nii Annang-La was convicted for contempt by an Accra High Court for ordering the demolition of properties on the Ramsar Site under the impression that the land belongs to the TMA.
Mr Justice Kweku Tawiah Ackaah-Boafo, who had presided over the contempt hearing at the High Court, ordered the Mayor to pay Ghc2,500 for the contempt agreeing with plaintiffs that the Mayor’s action also defied the fact that there was even a case about the land already pending.
The conviction has been a source of embarrassment to the Mayor and the TMA with the General Assembly of the TMA meeting on Thursday to deliberate over it.
« People are suing over the Ramsar Site because the Forestry Commission is not seen to be putting the land under the intended use.
It is not only the Ramsar Site that lies fallow in terms of management, even the Chemu is also in a terrible state because the Forestry Commission is just sitting down and doing nothing to desilt it, » Moshake said.