The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has appointed a retired justice of the country’s High Court as the sole enquirer into the alleged demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy in Ghana. Justice Kwasi Anto Ofori-Atta has the herculean task to;
- undertake a full and impartial inquiry into the alleged encroachment and/or demolishing of property on the land being used as the Bulgarian Embassy;
- make appropriate recommendations relating to the land being used as the Bulgarian Embassy;
- inquire into the nature of interest in any land held or occupied by Diplomatic Missions in Ghana;
- inquire into any matter relating to land in which Diplomatic Missions in Ghana have an interest whatsoever;
- make recommendations to Government.
The Chairman of the Right to Information Commission and Chairman of the Appeals Board of the Ho Technical University has 7 working days to produce a report to the government. Justice Kwasi Anto Ofori-Atta has experience with the adjudication of land disputes. He has served as a member of the Ashanti Regional Lands Commission and member of the Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation Committee of the Judicial Service.
In July 2007, then Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led a Government delegation to Bulgaria. The delegation’s visit was to deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries, including the signing of a Protocol for the Establishment of Bilateral Consultations to promote friendly relations and co-operation between the two countries, a Protocol the government says it “very much cherishes.”
“It’s for this reason that we have taken this matter seriously and broadened the scope to cover all land matters affecting diplomatic missions in the country. I have absolute confidence that, with the expertise and experience of the Sole Inquirer, I will be provided with the full facts and directions to enable me to act on them decisively and comprehensively,” the Lands and Natural Resources Minister Lawyer Samuel Abdulai Jinapor said on 18th March in Accra.
“The President of the Republic, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will be the last person to authorise any act that affects diplomatic relations or our obligations under international law,” he added.
Media reports on 15th March suggested that a demolishing had been carried out at the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra, an act that constitutes a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
ZAMIReports has gathered that there is an ongoing dispute over the said land.
The Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration revealed details of the dispute in a press briefing on 16th March.
“The Bulgarian Embassy leased the subject property from the late Theophilus Kofi Leighton on 1st February 1979, which lease was extended from 1983 for fifty (50) years for which an amount of One Million Old Ghana Cedis was paid by the Embassy with the option of renewal for another fifty (50) years. The lease expires in 2033,” a statement by the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on 16th March explained.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Mr Benito Owusu-Bio ordered the developer to stop work until the dispute over the parcel of land is settled when he visited the premises on 16th March.
“We are aware of litigation between the embassy and the developer. So if anything at all, in the interim, nobody must be here working,” Mr Owusu-Bio told the caretaker of the land.
A ‘stop-work’ notice placed on the ongoing construction by the Lands Commission had been removed at the time of the visit on Wednesday.
www.zamireports.com / Accra.