Mission demolition: Nigeria embassy without proper documentation-Ghanaian Govt

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo
The Government of the Republic of Ghana, has said investigation revealed that no land certificate was ever issued to the High Commission of Nigeria in Accra, Ghana, in respect of the residence of the High Commissioner at the centre of demolition controversy.
The Ghanaian government stated this after an investigation comprising officials of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Lands Commission, National Security Secretariat and the Ghana Police Service constituted to investigate the incident and make appropriate recommendations.
Recall that tempers rose between the Nigerian Government and the Government of Ghana at the weekend when a block of apartments within the residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana was demolished.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, in a statement issued in Accra and made available to Daily Sun in Abuja by the Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, said a search by the Lands Commission did not show that any proper documentation had been obtained in respect of the property.
The minister added that it was unfortunate that the High Commission of Nigeria did not obtain a lease following the allocation letter it obtained in 2000 or proceeded to obtain a land title certificate or even a building permit for the new property.
“Following the incident regarding the breach of the premises of the High Commission of Nigeria, located at 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, Ringway Estates, East Ridge, Accra, on Friday, 19th June, 2020 at about 23:00 hours, a committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Lands Commission, National Security Secretariat and the Ghana Police Service was constituted to investigate the incident and make appropriate recommendations.
“Preliminary findings by the Committee indicate the following: The High Commission of Nigeria presented letter referenced SCR/LCS 74/VOL.2/95 dated 7th August, 2000, granting allocation and right of entry to the High Commission, a 4-acre parcel of land in the Accra Osu Mantse Layout. The High Commission of Nigeria further presented receipts of payments on the said land, made by bankers draft payable to the executive secretary of the Lands Commission. However, land title certificate had not been issued to the High Commission.
“The Lands Commission stated that the said 4-acre parcel of land is part of vested land which is owned by the Osu Stool and managed by the Lands Commission. In June 2019, the Osu Stool requested the Greater Accra Regional Lands Commission to grant a lease in respect of a part of the said land to a third party.
“The Lands Commission stated that per its processes of granting leases, its records did not reveal any previous transaction in respect of the land in question.
“The Lands Commission revealed that a letter referenced AC 14826 of 4th July, 2019, signed by the Regional Lands Officer and addressed to the High Commission of Nigeria, informed that the Osu Stool had requested the Lands Commission to grant a lease to a third party on the land in question. The Lands Commission, therefore, advised the High Commission of Nigeria to provide relevant documents on ownership of the land, but the former did not receive any response.
“Based on the silence of the High Commission of Nigeria, the Lands Commission went ahead and issued a Land Title Certificate covering the said parcel of land to a third party.
“The Lands Commission has confirmed that the letter of 7th August, 2000, presented by the High Commission of Nigeria granting allocation and right of entry to the High Commission, was genuine and, indeed, emanated from its head office.
“Unfortunately, owing to the fact that the High Commission did not obtain a lease following the allocation letter, or proceed to obtain a land title certificate or even a building permit for the new property, a search by the Lands Commission did not show that any proper documentation had been obtained in respect of the property,” Botchwey said.
Botchwey however said it was worth noting that Articles 22 and 30 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulated that the premises of the mission, as well as the private residence of a diplomatic agent, shall be inviolable.
“Thus, the incident of Friday, 19th June, 2020 constitutes a breach of the Convention.
“In light of the above, the Government of Ghana has decided as follows: The Lands Commission will issue a letter to the Osu Traditional Council stating that in August 2000, a formal offer was made to the High Commission of Nigeria in respect of the parcel of land in question; the offer was accepted by the High Commission and payments made, accordingly constituting a contract.
“The Lands Commission will proceed to issue a Land Title Certificate to the High Commission of Nigeria to regularize its ownership of the property in question.
“The Government of Ghana will take immediate steps to engage the Osu Stool and all stakeholders on the impasse.
“Following the arrest of some persons connected to the breach of the premises of the High Commission of Nigeria, the Criminal Investigation Department will expedite action on investigations, given the delicate nature of the matter and its potential ramifications on Ghana–Nigeria relations.
“The Government of Ghana will ensure that the demolished building is restored to its original state, as soon as possible.
“The High Commission of Nigeria will take appropriate steps to obtain building permits for the construction,” Botchwey also said.
The Ghanaian Foreign Minister further said in view of the development, the Government of Ghana will actively engage the Nigerian Government at the highest level to address the impasse and help calm tensions in both countries.
“Let me state emphatically that Government takes a serious view of the violation of the diplomatic premises. Whilst expressing deep regrets over the incident, I wish to assure the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the Government of Ghana will pursue this matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that the perpetrators are sanctioned in accordance with the laws of the land.
“Let me assure the diplomatic community in Ghana, and the High Commission of Nigeria in particular, that the Government of Ghana will not relent on its primary obligation to protect and guarantee the safety of the Members of the Diplomatic Corps,” Botchwey further said.
THE SUN

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