The minority in parliament has accused the government of shielding officials involved in the demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra.
They asked the government to identify complicit officials at the Lands Commission for sanction since it had earlier indicated that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had, based on the findings of a Sole Inquirer, directed the Lands Commission to withdraw the consent granted to the said assignment and registration of the interest of Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, a private developer.
Justice Kwasi Anto Ofori-Atta, a retired Justice of the High Court, was appointed as a Sole Inquirer to investigate the true owners of the parcel of land in dispute between the Bulgarian Embassy and the private developer, and he reported that the embassy was illegally demolished.
The demolition was carried out by Mr Jojo Hagan, who took over as the Executor of the Will of Theophilus Kofi Leighton, the land owner who was seeking to nullify a lease agreement with the Bulgarian Embassy in order to offer the land to Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah.
The report recommended punishment for Mr Hagan, who allegedly carried out the destruction of the building.
“Mr Jojo Hagan should be sanctioned for not following due process in the eviction of the alleged trespassers and the demolition of the building and should be made to compensate the Bulgarian Embassy,” the report said.
In a brief background before tasking the Sole Inquirer to start work on Friday, 19 March 2022, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, in a statement said his ministry sent out a team led by the Deputy Minister in charge of Lands and Forestry, Benito Owusu-Bio, who halted all activities on the land until further notice.
The minister stated that government has no hand in the said demolition exercise, stressing that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who has previously served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs would be the last person to authorize any act that affects diplomatic relations or the country’s obligations under international law.
However, in a sharp response, the NDC rejected the government’s explanation.
“The Lands and Natural Resources Minister’s statement on the infamous Bulgarian Embassy demolishing, regrettably, has all the qualities of a farcical cover-up and whitewash, which confirms the suspicion we have always had based on government’s opaque conduct in this sordid affair of monumental international embarrassment” a statement from the NDC MPs said.
The group further assured Ghanaians that a future NDC government would investigate the “illegal” demolition of the embassy again.
“We also wish to serve strong and unambiguous notice that these cover-ups and pathetic whitewash will not prevent a future NDC government from launching a full-scale, no-holds-barred probe and a strict regime of punishing all complicit officials in the entire value chain within a more credible, patriotic and internationally acceptable best practice effort to restore Ghana’s once enviable reputation within the diplomatic community.”.
Below is the full statement from the NDC MPs:
NDC CAUCUS IN PARLIAMENT’S REACTION TO THE GOVERNMENT’S STATEMENT ON THE DEMOLISHING OF THE BULGARIAN EMBASSY
The Lands and Natural Resources Minister’s statement on the infamous Bulgarian Embassy demolishing, regrettably, has all the qualities of a farcical cover-up and whitewash, which confirms the suspicion we have always had based on the government’s opaque conduct in this sordid affair of monumental international embarrassment.
Apart from confirming that the Bulgarian Embassy was illegally demolished under their watch, the government’s statement is a preposterous attempt to shield state officials who have done great damage to our country’s image in the comity of nations.
The NDC Caucus in Parliament demands immediate answers to the following questions:
1) Why is the government refusing to publish the full report of the Sole Inquirer? What are they hiding?
2) Why is the government silent on its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 which imposes a “special duty” on the Ghanaian government “to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity?”
3) Why is the government not identifying complicit officials at the Lands Commission for sanction when in government’s own words: “Since the registration of the assignment of Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah is found, as indicated in the Sole Inquirer’s report to have been improperly obtained, the Ministry has further directed the Lands Commission to take the necessary steps to withdraw consent granted to the said assignment and registration of the interest of Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah?”
4) How could Jojo Hagan be portrayed by the government as a lone wolf when he enjoyed great collaboration from agents of the state including officials of the Lands Commission all the way to operatives of the national security apparatus?
5) Why did the Sole Inquirer not invite the Bulgarian Ambassador, H.E. Yanko Yordanov, despite his spirited effort to be heard by the Sole Inquirer? Engaging only his subordinate, the Honorary Consul was most inadequate and inappropriate.
6) Why is the Lands Minister now seeking advice from the Attorney-General on how sanctions should apply against the apparent scape goat, Jojo Hagan? Political opponents of this government are not treated with such kid gloves — they are promptly arrested and prosecuted.
7) What is the nature and value of compensation Jojo Hagan owes the Bulgarians?
8)Why is there no specific time frame for redeeming the said compensation?
9) Why is government protecting Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the President’s appointee at the NDPC, despite his clear complicity in inappropriately obtaining registration from the Lands Commission and defying the Foreign Ministry and Lands Ministry at various points as he continued with impunity to build his humongous structures?
10) Considering that these demolishing of diplomatic properties have happened twice only under this Akufo-Addo government in Ghana’s entire 65-year history (to the Nigerians and the Bulgarians), why is there no concrete finding(s) on the causes, deliberate fault lines being exploited and commitments/assurances to prevent this colossal diplomatic embarrassment from recurring?
The NDC Caucus in Parliament shall be pursuing these germane questions from Ministers of State when Parliament resumes next week.
We also wish to serve strong and unambiguous notice that these cover-ups and pathetic whitewash will not prevent a future NDC government from launching a full-scale, no-holds-barred probe and a strict regime of punishing all complicit officials in the entire value chain within a more credible, patriotic and internationally acceptable best practice effort to restore Ghana’s once enviable reputation within the diplomatic community.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP
[Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, Parli17 May Ghana]
17th May, 2022.