Over 500 residents of the Obom-Kojonto community in the Ga South Municipality of the Greater Accra region have been rendered homeless following the destruction of their houses by a team of armed police officers.
Reports say the team of police personnel came without warning at dawn ten days ago with a man claiming to be acting on a court order to demolish the houses. The residents say the man claims he owns vast sections of the land that make up the community.
But the residents, who are mainly peasant farmers, say they have been living in the community for decades. They claim the land on which they have been farming was handed them by their grand parents.
Joy News’ Seth Kwame Boateng who visited the community said victims of the demolition exercise have taken refuge in a school block.
The Ga South Municipal Assembly has supplied the victims with blankets and mattresses but the residents say it is not enough.
Esther Ahianyo, a mother of six, who is breastfeeding her last baby, told Joy News she and her husband were not notified before the demolition exercise that has deprived them of their farmlands and source of income.
Also affected by the demolition exercise in the Obom-Kojontor community are elderly people, some 100 years old. Reports say they have also been left to struggle with how and where to lay their heads and find food for themselves and their dependents.
Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Freeman Tettey, explained on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Monday July 15 that the Police were not involved in the demolition exercise, but were only present to provide security for those carrying out the demolition exercise.
He said the bailiff contacted the Police of the impending demolition exercise and requested their assistance, so they were there as mandated by law.
He denied claims that the residents were not notified ahead of time. According to him after realising the large number of people who would be affected by the demolition, the Police called the residents and other prominent people in the area and informed them about the court order a week prior to the demoliton.
He said his outfit did this to enable the residents have adequate time to prepare and relocate.
According to the assemblyman for the area, Charles Tei, the original owners of the land entrusted it in the care of the residents decades ago under an agreement that whatever the residents get from farming the land would be shared with the owners.
But the owners are said to have sold the land to the developer who gave them [owners] a better deal than the decade-long arrangement they had with the residents.
The residents are appealing for help as they struggle to cope with the sudden misfortune that has left them without a place to lay their heads, farm and a means to make a living.