Source: Emmanuel Dzivenu
Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Law, Kwame Gyan says it is now more dangerous for chiefs to sell lands under their jurisdiction without accountability.
According to him, the new Land Act, 2020 bars traditional rulers from taking unilateral and discriminate decisions with regards to lands held in their trust.
Speaking to Newsfile host, Samson Lardy Anyenini Saturday, the land administration expert indicated that the state has an inherent interest in how clan, family and stool lands are utilised to the benefit of the concerned groups.
“They can’t randomly and wantonly dissipate the lands like they used to do in the past. If you’re the head of family, occupant of a skin, chief or head of a clan, you can’t no longer go on business as usual.
“Selling the lands right, left, centre and pocketing proceeds. No! In fact it is even more dangerous for them now” he revealed.
Ghana enacted the new Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) to help consolidate the existing laws on land and land administration into a single Act and bring sanity in the various land tenure systems.
Section 9(2) of the Act stipulates that “chiefs, Tendanas, clan heads, family heads or any other authority in charge of management of stool or skin, clan or family lands, is a fiduciary charged with the obligation to discharge the management function for the benefit of the stool or skin, or clan or family concerned and is accountable as a fiduciary.”
There have been multiple cases of chiefs selling off lands and pocketing the proceeds at the expense of the development of the area.
Some also sell the same piece of land to two different persons. These have resulted in protracted litigations, direct confrontations leading to the maiming of individuals and deaths.
Mr Kwame Gyan believes the latest law makes it difficult for a chief, head of family or any other person vetted with customary lands to dispose of them and keep the proceeds.
He revealed that offenders will be liable to a fine of not less than 5,000 penalty units and not more than 10,000 penalty units or a jail term between five to 10 years or both.
The Land Law lecturer also suggested that the modification introduced do away with differentiations between a stool, clan and family land under the Trusteeship Act.
Before now, the trusteeship concept in stool lands per article 267(1) of the 1992 constitution indicated that stool lands shall be held by the appropriate stools as trustees for their subjects in accordance with the Customary Law in usage. But the new land administration regime says that family and clan lands have also been brought under trusteeship.
“Some of us who were part of this regime change were of the strong opinion that intrinsically there were no differences between stool land, clan land and family land. So if lands are held by occupants of stools and skins as trustees, then family lands and clan lands should also be held by the heads of the families and heads of clans as trustees.”
Mr Gyan further said that it may take Ghana over 20 decades to actualise the full benefit of reforms started in 2003 with the assistance from the World Bank in fixing the country’s land administration system.