I Goofed – Kofi Bentil

Vice President  of think tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, says his recent claim that the Achimota Forest Reserve has been sold by government originated from an unreliable source.

Mr. Bentil, who disclosed this when he was challenged by veteran journalist Kweku Baako Jnr about the veracity of the claim has since beaten a retreat and even deleted the post from his Facebook page.

The lawyer on Tuesday, May 17, screamed on his Facebook wall, “Bye Bye Achimota Forest. Sold!! What is this???”, which generated politically-laced brouhaha with opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) especially leading the charge.

Mr. Baako Jnr asked Mr. Bentil whether the recent report of the alleged sale of the forest reserve was not the same as the one that got Cabinet approval for a PPP in September 2013, during the tenure of former President John Mahama and the NDC.

Unable to defend his claim, Mr. Bentil pushed the blame on government, saying its way of doing things was shrouded in secrecy and made it difficult to get information, which led him and others to accept the information.

“We are unreliably informed that there’s a deal to sell off the forest. We need info but it seems we have to do RTI or float balloons like this for feedback,” he told Mr. Baako Jnr.

Meanwhile, the Owoo family, to whom portions of the reserve have been released, have come out to explain what transpired.

However, in a reaction captioned ‘Re: Achimota Forest And Matters Arising’ jointly signed by John Kwartey Nee Owoo, Francis Kwatei Nee Owoo, Nii Kwate Owoo, George Kwatey Owoo, Frank Nii Kwartey Owoo, Nat Holly Nii Owoo and George Annan Owoo, the principal elders of the family stated, “We, the Owoo Family, have restrained ourselves from participating in the ongoing debate as a result of good advice and judgment. We, however, reluctantly wish to set a few records straight.”

It said the Owoo family, the pre-acquisition owners of all the land acquired in 1921 and 1927 for the Achimota School, have suffered grave historical injustice.

“The family have had to, in the past, accept and/or acquiesce to terms to enable it move on, which it strongly believes have been unfair and unjust.

“The much talked about August 19, 2016 ceremony which has been erroneously stated in the public as an occasion when land was released to the Owoo family is false and misleading. That ceremony was a sod cutting ceremony for the development of the Achimota Forest into an Eco-Tourism park. The Owoo Family were mere invitees/guest.

“The Owoo Family has always maintained that compensation has not been paid for the 1927 acquisition.”

It continued that the acreage due the Owoo family was arrived at through a long-standing negotiation, which in many respects predates the current administration.

“This was done with the active involvement of various state technical negotiators and agencies,” it stressed.

The Owoo family added that it has petitioned all governments in the fourth republican dispensation and, indeed, is yet to take possession of any parcel of land to date.

“We commit to conducting ourselves in a manner which will not compromise the ecological integrity of the adjoining forest reserve and call on the general public to please disregard any misleading contributions to the ongoing public discussions,” the family noted.

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