The government has stated that the beneficiaries of the will of the late Forestry Commission CEO, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, shall not get the Achimota Forest and Ramsar site lands included in the will.
Mr. Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, was a one-time general secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party. Until his death in July 2020, he headed the Forestry Commission as the CEO from 2017.
His last will, which has been sighted and confirmed by The Fourth Estate, contains four parcels of specified and unspecified acres of land in the Achimota Forest, which the late politician bequeathed to named persons.
On page 4 of the will, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, whose office was situated at the Achimota Forest until his death, states:
“I give my land situate at the Achimota Forest in the name of Jakaypro Limited and measuring 5.541 acres to the following persons forever.
–Yaw Amoateng Afriyie -One (1) acre
— Eva Akua Afriyie One (1) acre
–Ivy Akua Afriyie One (1) acre
–Elizabeth Asare Boateng (aka Mother) One (1) acre
–Michael Owusu 1.541 acres
On page 5 of the will, it is stated: “I give my land also situate at the Achimota Forest in the name of Fasoh Limited and measuring 0.987acres to my nephews Michael Owusu, Yaw Boadu and Kwabena Amoateng forever.”
On the same page, the will states: “I jointly own a piece of land at Achimota Forest with Charles Owusu. Upon my demise, my portion of the said land should be given to Ruth Korkor Odonkor.”
That’s not all. On the same page 5 and still on the Achimota Forest, the will states: “I give my portion of land that jointly own at the Achimota Forest in the name of DML Limited to Elizabeth Asare Boateng who at the time of making this will is domiciled in the USA forever.”
The former head of the forestry commission also stated in the will that he owned a 5.07acre land at the Ramsar area in Sakumono in Accra.
“I give my land situate at the Ramsar area at Sakumono in the Greater Accra Region and measuring 5.07 acres to my sisters Abena Saah and her children, Comfort Amoateng and her children, Abena Konadu and Juliet Akua Arko and her children on equal share basis forever,” the will states.
The publication of the will by The Fourth Estate stoked national outrage following the decision by President Akufo-Addo to declassify a large part of the Achimota Forest as a reserve through an executive instrument, EI 144.
Some Ghanaians have also questioned why the man who was supposed to fend off encroachers and developers on the Ramsar site was himself a landowner there.
Barely 24 hours following The Fourth Estate‘s publication, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in a statement on May 24, 2022, stated that its checks at the Lands Commission “show no record of ownership of lands, at the Achimota Forest or the Sakumono Ramsar Site, by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.”
From the details available to The Fourth Estate, it will not be strange not to find any records of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie relating to the lands. He appeared to have acquired them through certain companies that were not linked to him until his death or with other persons named in his will. That has been stated in all the Achimota Forest lands he named in his will.
The ministry’s statement, which is signed by the sector minister, Samuel A. Jinapor, however, did not end there.
“That said, given the totality of the circumstances of the said allegations, I, as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, have directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to deem any ownership of lands, both, in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie as void and are to take the appropriate actions accordingly,” the statement said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged will. These lands, the subject matter of the alleged will, shall remain public lands, whether or not it falls within the de- gazetted lands pursuant to EI 144,” the statement added.
Here is the Ministry’s press statement:
FULL LIST: All the 75 properties contained in Sir John’s will
FULL DETAILS: Achimota Forest lands, gold businesses and guns in Sir John’s will
Is it interesting all his “willable” wealth were acquired after 2017 when he came into an office by executive appointment as chief executive officer of the forestry commission? Can the Tax authority let us know how much he contributed to the pool by way of Tax? This will show the disconnect between his tax payment records and his net worth. Obviously, the gap is ‘attributed to corruption’ due to the weakness of the prevailing asset declaration regime in practice in Ghana.
Absolutely we do not require knowledge beyond our reach as a country that our assets declaration regime, as it currently exists, has been ineffective and incapable of combating corruption. An urgent re-engineering of the asset’s declaration is required probably with more urgency than the like of E-levy because it could potentially create a net benefit to Ghana in excess of what e-levy is anticipated to.
Mindful of Article 286 of the constitution. In my opinion, a complete independent Authority should be set up by law to manage asset declarations other than the auditor general. The current asset declaration regime fails to prevent abuse of power by holders of public office, fails to protect public assets and the public interest, fails to deter public corruption, fails to promote the integrity of public officials, fails to make public disclosure on assets of public officials and finally fails to foster public accountability and trust, all ingredients of a credible efficient and effective assets declaration program.
Under the proposed Asset Declaration Authority, every appointed official/relation covered under the act must declare assets prior to assuming the office elected to or appointed and thereafter each calendar year. In the event, the person is leaving the office, the same should be done as part of his/her exit process. The Asset Declaration Authority should be cloth with the authority to review and report on the changes in asset positions of the covered official and just like the Auditor General’s Report is subjected to parliamentary scrutiny, should also be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. This will be an effective tracker to determine and arrest corruption in a timely fashion, and real-time monitor wealth variations of publicly elected or appointed politicians and civil servants, in contrast with the current regime which takes four long years for a person in the office to redeclare assets. Not only does it offer sufficient time to clean off and hid the corrupt wealth but also makes it almost impossible to recover value to the state.
It is sufficiently evident that public appointed /elected officials in Ghana own assets that excessively stripes their income both before and during their service in public office.
The assets of public officials, particularly in developing countries, are often found to be excessive in relation to their income while in public office, which in turn raises speculations as to how they got their assets. Our success in reducing corruption of public office holders will depend largely on our ability to reform our asset declaration regime and the quality of the ideas that are inculcated into the reforms.
Good afternoon and let’s stand up for an effective and efficient assets declaration regime in Ghana if we want to confront the corruption of public officials.
The lands are not the only state assets he stole. We need to recoup all
What is backing this assertion? How are they far from being described as encroachers in 2030? I am really disappointed. They preach and breach.