The Defence Minister, has refuted claims of the Akufo-Addo government selling military lands to private developers. Instead, it was the John Mahama government in its final three weeks before leaving office that signed deals with private developers leasing lands to them.
According to Dominic Nitiwul, in one such transaction, 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.
Interestingly, he failed to release the names of those involved in the transaction, preferring to use “developers” apart from confirming The Herald’s Friday publication that the Ghana Armed Forces is in a deal with a private company known as Gold Key owned by Kwaku Ofosu Bediako.
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 fromJuly 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.