Editorial: Land guard operations getting out of hand
There is no free land in Ghana, however, lands are held in trust by the living for the dead and unborn generations. Aphu Elvis Selase and Co have expressly stated that land acquisition during pre-colonial Ghana had been by individuals or members of a family’s ability to clear a thicket for the establishment of a village or farm. This system of acquiring and possessing land has changed in modern times, where one can own a parcel land based on his purchasing power.
Today, land is being sold on the market like an essential commodity due to the ever soaring demand, rural-urban immigration, and growing population. Since lands are either stool lands or in private hands, the government lacks control over how lands are used in the country. For instance, areas demarcated for public projects have been reclaimed by the original owners, or sold to private individuals or encroached upon.
The situation is becoming worse by the day, with the government doing very little to meet the accommodation problems of the citizenry, even though shelter is a basic need. This challenge, couple with the high cost of rentals, especially in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and other big cities, has left people with difficult options to seek for roofs over their heads.
One push factor of individuals, irrespective of the financial condition, to erect a structure they will call a home is the two years rent advance system being practiced in the country.
This, in The Chronicle’s view, has preconditioned a mad rush for land and multiple sales of land to different developers, and the engagement of violent persons to guard or secure the land from the owners reselling it to others.
As it stands, “landguardism” is one of the major security threats in the country. Linda Dankwa and Philip Attuquayefio, in 2015, described the operations of land guards as “killing to protect.” Indeed, this description was clearly captured in Transliteral Foundation’s definition of landguardism that it is “the hiring of armed men/women to protect one’s interest in land by guarding the land.”
The irony of the situation of landguardism in the country is how these crimes are perpetuated with impunity. They are not even afraid to approach developers to demand money or attack them in broad daylight.
To The Chronicle, the security forces are losing their grip over the fight against land guards, and we can say without reservation that it is becoming more lucrative than armed robbery. Once one has what it takes to be violent and not afraid to commit crime, being a land guard is an option.
The Chronicle is becoming concerned with the growing menace of landguardism, especially in this era where insurgency and threats from terrorist groups in the West Africa region are rampant.
This paper is observing a trend, where people from the sub-region are becoming land guards. This is a serious security threat to the country and its people for other nationals to carry offensive weapons and use it against persons who call Ghana their homeland.
It is even difficult to say whether the Ghana Police Service has data or published anything on land guards in the country. But all we get from our security agency is media reports of police swooping on these land guards.
As a nation, we must understand that we have a real problem at hand, as some of them are being irresponsibly used by politicians as thugs to commit various crimes.
The Chronicle wants to use this opportunity to request from the police if data on land guard brutalities can be published, so that a proper analysis of the situation can be made by academicians and other persons who will find the information important to their work, as well as profess a more realistic solution on how the canker can be addressed.