The Rule of The Land Guards

The bullet-riddled body of Awal, the latest victim of a land guard attack, is symptomatic of an ailing society, one in which law and order is being undermined by criminal elements. The story about how yet-to-be-apprehended land guards opened fire and killed an innocent life and sent others to hospital beds, made the front pages of many newspapers yesterday. It is the umpteenth time that land guards are drawing the blood of innocent citizens as we watch almost sheepishly. We are unable to tell whether this would be the last time that boys of the underworld would visit death on citizens whose only fault is that they have bought pieces of land. Although some land guards have been nabbed and even jailed, the majority of them are still free men and plying their bloody trade, without looking over their shoulders as they clutch their firearms. For how long can we tolerate these elements who are able to offer their services to politicians when elections are due, although the last polls saw a diminished role for them? We acknowledge the efforts of the law enforcement agents in their bid to stop the criminals in the face of various bureaucratic challenges and the absence of cooperation from members of the public. Those who buy land, especially societyís elites, are the main patrons of land guards; but this class of Ghanaians is quick to cry out and accuse law enforcement agents of indifference when it suffers the consequences of its patronage. Various issues have been raised by stakeholders over the past few years about the subject. While we are appreciative of the concerns raised by many Ghanaians, especially those resident in Accra, we think that a coordinated approach would be more appropriate. We are calling for a national dialogue on the subject of land, especially in Accra: buying land in the nationís capital and its environs is akin to denying one sleep and courting death. Land guarding is now an industry fetching so much money for those engaged in it. They build their bodies and acquire firearms from the underworld ready for the business of death. That is how they (mostly youth) get engaged in the nasty ungodly business. When we discuss the subject at a national level under the auspices of government, it is likely we would chalk progress in the area of stopping the madness. Land administration in the country, especially in Accra, needs a total overhaul with the chiefs as custodians of this natural resource playing a crucial role. Documentation of land is so cumbersome that it provides impetus for the dirty deals which are supportive of the land guard industry. Some applications for land title have spent over two years in the land title processing department. The conduct of some chiefs in the Greater Accra Region leaves much to be desired. Selling a piece of land to as many as three persons can only be criminally-minded. This is a common occurrence in Accra. We must win this war against the hoodlums on the field and through the streamlining of documentation which for now are anything but smooth.