Mr. President, For Heaven’s Sake Clamp Down on Land Guards!-Bernard Asubonteng

One of the encouraging developments in Ghanaian society today under President Akufo-Addo is the genuine determination and commitment this administration has shown and keeps  showing so far in the fight against galamsey or illegal mining in the country. The president’s unrelenting effort and the seemingly sense of fierce urgency displayed along with his utterances on the issue, indicate that the current government, unlike the previous ones, seriously wants to retire galamsey activities into the dim past.  Many of us in the diaspora have already made the case, if the president succeeds in burying galamsey deep into an unfathomable mining pit of antiquity, that achievement alone will definitely be an unparalleled landmark legacy for Akufo-Addo-led administration.

From the look of things, it is becoming increasingly obvious  the present president takes the letter and the spirit of law and order in democratic Ghana solemnly. As a law and order president,  therefore, Nana Akufo-Addo needs not be reminded that galamsey, mob killing or instant (in)justice, and of course, the “land guards” phenomena  all run counter to law and order in a civilized community. On that note, on this particular occasion the focus will be on the dangerous extortionist practice that has crystallized itself throughout the nation into “land guard.” Land guard concept is another serious law and order infraction that needs to be dismantled  in contemporary Ghana because it is inimical to the 21st century sense of civility and peaceful coexistence.

Unlike galamsey and mob killings,  land guards’ activities appear to have almost eluded national consciousness or scrutiny, but can be equally deadly and serve as disincentive to socioeconomic progress. The exact genesis  of the so-called land guard practice may be unknown, but its widespread presence in this country—especially in the major cities and towns—negatively impacts potential land development and investment. Certainly land guards are in vogue in Ghana, yet many accounts of their activities strongly confirm they are now mostly concentrated in the nation’s capital of Accra.

Patently, it is not a coincidence that one of these metastasized “Ghanaian social cancers” (land guard)might have led the Queen Mother of Kwabenya in Accra, Naa Korkoi  Dugbatey to appeal to President Akufo-Addo recently, to do all that he could to help clamp down on land guards. Making her appeal during the just-ended Yam Festival commemoration in Kwabenya, the queen mother rightly lamented that “having cases of  indiscriminate sales of lands” by the racketeering land guards have also resulted in rampant contract killings in our communities and “these things must stop” (see: Ghanaweb, July 23, 2017).

Not only do they engage in murder-for-hire errands, but also the land guards are sickeningly notorious for destroying or setting houses under construction on fire if in most cases their exorbitant monetary expectations are not met.  Land guards are also well known for putting a permanent hold or an unlawful moratorium on a given piece of land based on their demented  and self-described belief that the land in question is their bona fide property.

The question is, in whose name or land are they guarding? The truth is land guards are mostly land hustlers, societal human parasites, and losers,  whose avowed aim is one and only one: To hustle and extort money from real estate dealers or prospective land developers via threat, force, and other unlawful means.

Once they falsely lay claim to the ownership of a land, the only way out for these social misfits to let that land goes is to pay them huge sums of money, in a way, to feed into their egoistic assumed strange nomenclature of “land guards.” No one exactly knows who appointed them land guards but here they are all over the place, arrogated to themselves the “guardianships” of some Ghana lands with impunity similar to the lawless attitudes of the galamseyers and the mob killers.

To share a personal land guard story, about 16 years ago, one of my brothers living in the Washington DC area bought a piece of land in the Kwabenya-Dome area for building a residential house.  The building project began soon after the land was purchased back then.  Unfortunately,  although the two-storey  house should have been fully completed by now, the blackmailers parading as land guards would not let that happen for the past decade.

Whenever my frustrated brother makes any attempt to add anything new to the building structure, here come the land guards, uncompromisingly demanding  four thousand (4,000) U.S. dollars in cash before they would even allow a fence wall to be built around the house. This has been going on for years and these so-called land guards always come up with some fake documents as their “proof” that they have rightful control over the land and hence the building.

Lawlessness in Ghana is a reality. For those in denial, it may not come as a surprise in that many Ghanaians speak from both sides of their mouths at the same time. We tend to describe something yellow as green and vice versa. It is relatively easy for us to orbit around lawlessness, cut corners, and expect to have meaningful national development in the country. For some of us government is the source of all our problems; never mind that the president/government did not order anyone to trash his/her environment, or drive mechanically faulty vehicle at a break-neck speed in one of the most death-trapped roads in the world.

In any event, to echo the Kwabenya queen mother’s genuine concern, this national insanity relating to land guard gets  to come to a complete stop at the Akufo-Addo’s presidency, for heaven’s sake. It is a scary state of affairs and left to fester any longer, a combined triumvirate forces of that magnitude—galamsey, mob killing, and the  land guardism—can render a democratic society ungovernable because without viable law and order democracy becomes ineffective.  To that extent, President Akufo-Addo must prioritize land guards conundrum if the administration has not done so already.  Land guards’ tendencies are in league with the galamseyers, and the mob killers. Let’s eliminate their activities from the new Ghana!

Author: Bernard Asubonteng is U.S.-based writer; send your comments to: b.asubonteng@gmail.com