The Lands Commission has schooled the Volta Region House of Chiefs on the Land Act 2020, (Act 1036) to empower them with their rights, roles and responsibilities under the law.
Mr James Dadson, Acting Executive Secretary of the Commission, in his opening remarks, explained the important role traditional authorities played as custodians of the land and urged them to equip themselves with some critical provisions in the legislation to help them manage land issues and ensure sanity in the country’s land administration system.
Mr Timothy Anyidoho, Acting Greater Regional Lands Officer, in a presentation, highlighted some sections of the Act, which were relevant to the functions the traditional authorities were supposed to play in land administration.
He explained, for instance, section 14-18 of the Act, which mandated every stool, skin, clan or family that owned land to establish a Customary Land Secretariat for the management of land issues.
Mr Anyidoho also explained Section 12 of the Act, which provided protection of land and Interest in land.
He noted that any person who unlawfully exercised or purportedly exercised control of land development in a location and has no interest in the land and extorted money or other benefits from a person with interest in the land, and also prevented a developer from developing the land whether personally or through another person, using violence to prevent a person who has an interest in the land from having access to the land committed an offence and is liable to summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than five years, and not more than 15 years.
That section, he said, criminalised the activities of land guards and, therefore, cautioned the chiefs to avoid hiring land guards since the law frowned on such acts.
Mr Anyidoho said under the Act, chiefs were supposed to demarcate clearly their boundaries with the help of professional surveyors and register their interests before selling their lands.
He said: “Chiefs under the Act should be accountable to their people because of their fiduciary duties as holding the Lands in trust for their people”.
Some of the chiefs sought explanation on certain aspects of the law, especially on unpaid compensations for government acquired Lands and the lands earmarked to be divested.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Dadson, later presented 100 copies of the Land Act to the House and pledged stronger collaboration between traditional authorities and the Commission.
Togbe Tepre Hodo IV, President of the Volta Region House of Chiefs, and Paramount Chief of Anfeoga Traditional Area, and his Vice, Togbega Patamia Dzekle VII, were happy about the sensitization programme and applauded the Commission for the initiative.