Defense Minister exposes himself to Mahama’s state-lands grab probe

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Dominic Aduna Bingab Nitiwul, the Defense Minister, did not tell the whole truth about his involvement in the transaction on prime military lands dished out to private developers by both the Akufo-Addo government, as well as the John Mahama government, which it took over from, in January 2017.

Last week, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bimbilla constituency in the Northern Region, disclosed that he inherited a deal between the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and a private company known as Gold Key owned by Kwaku Ofosu Bediako, when he took over the Defense Ministry from Dr Benjamin Kumbour in 2017, but had to use three years to study the transaction.

But insiders have said that the Defense Minister, has not been truthful to Ghanaians on his reason for holding on to the transaction. He is said to have gone into his own personal negotiations with Gold Key Properties which is putting up Cantonment City apartments in Accra near the Cantonment Police Station off the 10 Josif Broz Tito Avenue – Accra, also known as the Flair Road.

Following recent reports by The Herald, the Defense Minister went to Parliament and purported to be speaking the truth about Military lands which have been doled out to private developers in a land-for-houses deal.

The publication comes amidst promises by the 2024 Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama “to institute a full-scale investigation into the sale of government lands”, because according to his aide Stan Dogbe, “even the squatters around can see what the folks at the Lands Ministry and Land Commission are doing with state lands in and around Cantonments, Airport and Labone”.

Mr Nitiwul, who denied his personal involvement in any land sale, insisted that the Mahama government had signed the particular transaction dishing out the military lands to Mr Bediako’s company in its final three weeks before leaving office.

Strangely the Defense Minister, did not disclose any details on the land for houses deal signed with private developers, including Gold Key Properties.

He has kept everything to himself, despite claiming he did modifications to the transaction after three years of critically studying it, and this has sent many who are familiar with the deal, laughing at him and demanding from him to know what he came to meet in 2017 and the nature and extent of his amendments.  

The Herald was told by insiders that when the Akufo-Addo government took over “they stopped him (Gold Keys Properties) when they took power, cut deals on the deal before allowing him”, adding “there was no need to do that because there was nothing wrong with that”.

Referring to Mr Bediako, “he is to redevelop the land and give some to the military and he takes a bigger portion for his development”.

The transaction The Herald was told “was more with the army and the approval of the ministry.”

Dominic Nitiwul, had in one such transaction, said a whopping 26-acre of land was sold around the Mahama Roundabout behind Burma Camp near the new Military Cemetery, which he stopped and later took the matter to the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and won.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) had Mark Owen Woyongo, serving from February 14, 2013 to July 16, 2014. He was succeeded by Dr Benjamin Kunbuor from July 16, 2014 to January 6, 2017, but Dominic Nitiwul did not mention any of them.

Addressing Parliament on the said issue, Dominic Nitiwul, asserted that the Akufo-Addo government, has done no such thing, but rather the NDC government after the December 2016 defeat committed the country to such deals during the Transition period, despite stern warnings against the signing of new contracts.

“Mr Speaker, the Ghana Navy, and the Ghana Air Force, will also be re-equipped, and it’s also in the budget… I just want to use the opportunity to answer just one thing: This government, under my reign, has never, and I say never, sold any military land to any private developer,” he said.

The Defence Minister, highlighted the specific case involving a developer; Gold Key, which was reported by The Herald last week as working on a project for the Armed Forces with many senior army officers about to lose their official bungalows at an enclave at Cantonments in Accra known as Rangoon Villa and Rangoon Close.

He admitted to contemplating cancelling the project, but decided against it three years after carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages.

He clarified that the contract in question had been signed on December 26, 2016, well before his tenure.

“I want to note that anybody making accusations about the Armed Forces’ land is not referring to my administration. Not a single piece of land from the CDS, or Army office has been given to anybody,” he added.

“Mr Speaker, this government under my reign has never and I say never sold any military land to any private developer. 

“I fact, there’s a developer that is doing a current project for the Armed Forces, I looked at it, I originally cancelled it because that project was signed on 26th of December   2016. The contractor is called Gold Key. It was signed on 26th of December 2016.

“I originally wanted to cancel it,  but after weighing it. I kept it for three years and in 2019, after weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I thought that they should go ahead. … and reason I wanted to cancel was that during the transition period, Mr “Speaker,  we were told not to sign new contracts and because that contracts was signed on 26th of December 2016 within the transition period, that was why I put it on hold. So if anybody thinks that this government has signed anything, it’s wrong, it’s not us. 

“The other one, was the Army Mess, everybody knows 37, the Army Mess, that was also signed in December 2016. Yes 2016, so any accusation, you have now, any development, you have now, it is because I sat on it. I did not think that it was good. But I went through and went through, and we did some modernisation and that’s why I allowed it. 

“So I want to let you know that anybody making allegation about the Armed Forces land, it’s not under my watch. Not a single piece of land from the CDS office or Army office, has been given to anybody. 

“If there’s a land that has been retrieved, 26 acres, was given around the Mahama Roundabout. I stopped it. 26 acres was given in December 2016 and I stopped it. 

“I reported the matter to EOCO, EOCO invited and looked at and I won the case, the Ministry of Defense won the case and we cancelled it. It’s in the budget, look at it. But it’s for public good that why I am saying it.

The Herald, last week reported a disturbing development on some senior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) who are being ejected from their official residence, because the prime land on which their houses are situated, has been given out to a private developer in a deal which leaves the military establishment shortchanged.

The famous Number 1 Rangoon Villa and Number 2 Rangoon Villa at Cantonments –Accra which houses some of Ghana’s Army’s top officers since time immemorial, will soon be razed down and replaced with high-rising properties owned by a company called Goldkey Ghana Limited, and to be called “Cantonment City”.

Also to be flattened after the officers had been thrown out from their rundown bungalows, are the prominent Rangoon Close houses numbering 10 and occupied by the senior Army officers from the ranks of lieutenant colonel, colonel and brigadier generals.

The juicy land, measuring a couple of acres adjacent to Ghana Police Headquarters and behind the Cantonments Police Station, Police Barracks and Police Hospital in the heart of Accra, has been exchanged with some paltry developments inside Burma Camp.

The Ministry of Defense and Ghana Armed Forces, has entered a deal with Goldkey Ghana Limited to put up a legal directorate for the GAF, GHQ office complex and an office complex specifically for the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) inside Burma Camp in Accra.

The CDS’s complex, according to The Herald’s information, has already been constructed, but the accommodation for the senior officers living on the state land remains uncertain.

Experts say, the land in question will cost several millions of dollars if valued and put in the open market for sale.

The deal is shady and many of the military officers are beginning to question whether those in-charge of the Ghana Armed Forces got value from the land for house arrangement with Goldkey Ghana Limited.

Already, the Police administration, had gone into a similar arrangement with the same company and gotten the new Cantonments Police Station office complex and a few flats which many police officers have described as poorly constructed and with inferior products.

The Herald is also informed that some senior staff of 37 Military Hospital, also live in the area. They had been strategically placed closer to the hospital for times of emergency medical treatment.   

Although no official communication has been issued to the officers, The Herald is informed that many of them are living on the edge confused as to when they will be told to pack and move out of their residence for Goldkey Ghana Limited to have access to the state plot for its profit-making venture.

The Herald is informed that, the Rangoon lands in Cantonments are not the only ones being given out in the land for houses and property deals the current military hierarchy has gone into with private developers whose names the GAF has refused to disclose.  

On Wednesday, The Herald reported that the sale of portions of military prime lands in Accra, including official residences of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) have been quietly slashed and sold to a yet-to-be-identified private developer.

Meanwhile, Stan Dogbe, Mr. Mahama’s aide has challenged the minister for lands and natural resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, to provide Ghanaians with the records available at the Lands Commission on the sale of the official residence for Clerk of Parliament.

The minister in a statement to parliament, without any official records, said the land was sold in 2015 and not 2019 as claimed by the Parliamentary Service Board. The minister also failed to disclose the identity of the private developer who bought the said land and also failed to prove that the land was sold in 2015.

Challenging him to strict proof, in a post on Facebook, Stan Xoese Dogbe, who is also an Aide to former President John Mahama, challenged the minister to provide proof of his claims.

“Since he was speaking in a “house of records” and he has the facts, how come none of the reports have indicated who the developer/ buyer is, correspondence showing the date of sale in 2015 and who the signatories from both the Lands Commission and Ministry were, evidence that a lease was entered into in 2015 for the said developer etc?”

Read the full Facebook post:

Read a couple of threads quoting lands minister Samuel A. Jinapor as saying that the Clerk of Parliament’s official residence was sold in 2015 and not 2019.

Since he was speaking in a “house of records” and he has the facts, how come none of the reports have indicated who the developer/ buyer is, correspondence showing the date of sale in 2015 and who the signatories from both the Lands Commission and Ministry were, evidence that a lease was entered into in 2015 for the said developer etc?

I am happy Mr. John Dramani Mahama has promised to institute a full-scale investigation into the sale of government lands, because even the squatters around can see what the folks at the Lands Ministry and Land Commission are doing with state lands in and around Cantonments, Airport and Labone.

And they pay the Lands commission paltry sums, while huge amounts are collected under the cover of darkness. That commission of enquiry will be revealing and grave!!!

But for now, Samuel Jinapor, should help the people of Ghana with the documentary evidence of the said sale, details of payments and receipts to refute the claims of the Parliamentary Service Board.

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