Justice of the High Courts of Ghana and The Gambia, Alexander Osei Tutu, says land titles in Ghana cannot be sold by the state, families, stools or skins to individuals or organizations forever.
According to him, the Constitution of Ghana places limitations on the number of years that any of these entities can give out land.
Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law on the topic “Essential Themes in Land Law: How to Acquire and Secure Land’, he said: “Under our laws, the stool cannot grant freehold title, this is in the constitution; so if you go to a chief and you say you want a freehold, give me land where there is no limited period, the law does not permit that. A stool cannot give you, a skin cannot give you, a clan cannot give you, and even family.
“Before this law, Act 1036 the limitation was only in respect of stools, but now Act 1036 Section 9 has extended the prohibition to cover families.”
This he explained is to prevent the incidence of land grabbing by rich and powerful individuals and companies in the country.
“The state is trying to protect the lands so that we’ll not get a foreigner coming in, having money to acquire all the lands in Ghana. So foreigners are not permitted to hold allodial title. And one person if you think you have money I want to acquire let’s say land from the [stool] if care is not taken or if that provision was not inserted, a time will come where I’m rich, I acquire all the land and I tell all Ghanaians or everybody to leave the land for me.
“So a family cannot grant freehold. And the state cannot also grant freehold. That is provided under the new land act, specifically section 235,” he said.
He stated that the only entity that can grant freehold titles or give out land forever are individuals.
“The only person who can grant a freehold now is the individual. So if I acquire a freehold land some time ago, I can now dispose of that interest to another person. But apart from the individual nobody can say that I acquired a land from the state and it is for an unlimited period,” he explained.
Speaking on the time period one can hold onto a leased land, Justice Alexander Osei Tutu stated that Ghanaians can acquire a land lease and hold on to it for a maximum of 99 years.
“If you’re a foreigner, the maximum interest you can acquire is a lease for 50 years maximum. If you’re a Ghanaian the maximum interest you can acquire from a stool, skin, clan or family is a lease of 99 years,” he said.
The lease can be renewed at the end of the period as provided in the new land act.
“The intention is you acknowledge ownership of the land owner. So you will be there for 99 years, after 99 years you come back to us for you to recognize that though we’ve given you land it’s not for you forever,” he said.