Tension at Ada Foah as chiefs uses land guards to claim properties

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Ada Foah chiefs have adopted a scorched-earth policy of using land guards to claim properties that do not belong to them.

There is heightened fear among residents of Ada Foah, Azizanya, and other surrounding communities in the Ada East District Assembly (AEDA) due to the activities of land guards.

According to sources, the chiefs of Ada Foah have adopted a scorched-earth policy of using land guards to demolish buildings in the areas whose owners do not toe their line and they do this amid intimidation, threats and blackmail.

Given these challenges, many buyers become victims of multiple sales and have to turn to courts of law to seek redress. However, the long and costly processes of accessing justice in general and land litigation in particular often act as a deterrent to resorting to the formal process of the judiciary.

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“I was in my yard one day when I had these visitors (two chiefs – name with-held) who came with the idea of leasing my property to other people. I never agreed to their decision. They brought in Excavators and land guards to demolish my property at around 1 am-midnight.” one dissenter, who wished to remain unnamed, stated.

He continued that people have always had it tough building on the land they acquire legally with the proper documents such as land title certificates due to the phenomenon of other people laying claim to same parcel of land without any documentary prove or backing.

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At the time of the Newsfile360 visit to the area, the land guards had demolished buildings at various stages of completion; a situation that is currently causing panic and fear among the residents.

Some demolished structures

Customary land ownership is dominant in Ghana, with chiefs and recognized traditional authorities designated as trustees to hold land in their fiduciary capacity.

On paper, the fact that communities own the land increases local control over land and resource management, and related decision-making processes. Customs and statutes are equally clear that land should be used in ways that serve the interests of all members of the landowning community.

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However, growing evidence indicates that many recently concluded land deals fall short of almost all the parameters of good land governance, as does the distribution of benefits from such transactions. This often has dire consequences for rural communities, including gender-differentiated landlessness, squeezed livelihoods, and environmental degradation. There have been reports of tensions and even violent clashes between communities and investors.

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