The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has begun investigations into suspected corruption-related offences into the assets acquired by the former chief executive officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
This follows a petition by Corruption Watch to the OSP to investigate the acquisition of state lands following The Fourth Estate‘s publication of the will of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
In a press statement issued today, the OSP said it had begun “full investigations into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of alleged improper acquisition of state lands at the Achimota Forest enclave and Ramsar catchment in Accra by the former Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie alias Sir John (now deceased) and other two persons.”
The statement signed by Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, asked the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to cooperate in the investigations.
The wealth Mr Afriyie bequeathed to his family and loved ones has shocked many Ghanaians since The Fourth Estate exclusively revealed the contents of his will. Of particular interest have been the large parcels of land he owned at the Achimota Forest and the Ramsar site, a protected area he had warned people against acquiring land while he was in office.
Corruption Watch petitioned the Special Prosecutor “to investigate the alleged acquisition of several acres of alleged state lands situated in the Achimota Forest and Ramsar sites in Sakumono by three artificial persons namely Jakaypros Limited, Fasoh Limited, DML Limited, and two natural persons namely Charles Owusu, an officer of the Forestry Commission and Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, now deceased, who served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission from March 2017 until July 2020.”
Per the laws regulating asset declaration in Ghana—Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act—Mr Afriyie should have declared his assets upon assumption of office in 2017.
The Fourth Estate’s checks from the Auditor-General’s department, however, revealed he did not.
A few days after the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John A. Jinapor, announced the declassification of parts of the Achimota Forest as a forest reserve, The Fourth Estate revealed that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie had already acquired some portions of the Achimota Forest lands through Fasoh Limited, DML limited and jointly with some named individuals. The details were contained in his will.
Not long after The Fourth Estate‘s publication of contents of the will, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in a statement on May 24, 2022, said 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.”
That did not stop some civil society groups from demanding further action. Besides the petition by Corruption Watch to the Special Prosecutor, 14 other civil society organisations have also filed a petition to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the acquisition of state lands by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.