When a mining company, Fasoh Multi Services Limited, in the Upper Wassaw Forest Reserve in Bibiabini presented the Forestry Commission with a pick-up truck in 2019, the commission’s then chief executive, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, was full of praise for them.
He described the donation as an “important milestone”, stating that it was going to help the Commission to monitor and enforce laws against the destruction of Ghana’s forest reserves.
Mr. Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, also assured the company of the commission’s support to undertake exploration in some areas of the forest.
But it was not free lunch.
Fasoh Multi Services then requested the Ghana’s forestry regulator to assist the company with guards to monitor and protect its mining concession in the Upper Wassaw Forest Reserve.
The commission obliged. It deployed 12 Forest guards to the mining company after the request, according to the commission’s website.
But there is an irony. It has now emerged that the said mining company, Fasoh Multi Services Limited was jointly owned by the late Sir John.
In his will, one of the controversial lands he owned at the Achimota Forest is held in the name of the company.
Sir John wrote, “I give my land also situated at the Achimota Forest in the name of Fasoh Limited and measuring 0.987acres to my nephews Michael Owusu, Yaw Boadu and Kwabena Amoateng forever.”
In another part of the will, he disclosed his business interest in the company: “I have a similar ownership in gold production in Rotl, Fasoh, MBL who can be contacted through Francis Owusu.”
The mining company forms part of a long list of 75 properties, including houses, parcels of land, bank accounts, investments, businesses, guns and clothes to be distributed among the named persons in the will by the late former NPP General Secretary.
From the will, some of these properties were registered while Sir John was serving as the Chief executive of the Forestry Commission from 2017-2020.
It is unclear when he acquired interest in mining businesses, but some commentators on his will have suggested he might have put himself in the situation of conflict-of-interest situation.
It is also unclear whether the mining company ever paid for the Forestry Commission guards that were deployed to them.
Meanwhile, information The Fourth Estate has requested and received from the Audit Service reveals that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie did not declare his assets before taking office and did not declare them throughout his tenure as the CEO of the Forestry Commission.
Per the laws regulating asset declaration in Ghana—Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act—Mr Afriyie should have declared assets relating to the following:
(a) lands, houses and buildings;
(d) trust or family property in respect of which the officer has beneficial interest;
(e) vehicles, plant and machinery, fishing boats, trawlers, generating plants;
(f) business interests;
(g) securities and bank balances;
(h) bonds and treasury bills;
(i) jewellery of the value of ¢5 million [now ¢500] or above; objects of art of the value of ¢5 million or above;
(j) life and other insurance policies;
(k) such other properties as are specified on the declaration form.
Sir John had a long list of properties including 13 houses at various locations in Accra and Kumasi and his hometown, Sakora Wonoo, in the Ashanti Region.
Meanwhile, the government has stated that Sir John’s will shall not get the Achimota Forest and Ramsar site lands included in the will.
Barely 24 hours following The Fourth Estate‘s publication, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in a statement on May 24, 2022, stated that its checks at the Lands Commission “show no record of ownership of lands, at the Achimota Forest or the Sakumono Ramsar Site, by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.”
From the details available to The Fourth Estate, it will not be strange not to find any records of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie relating to the lands. He appeared to have acquired them through certain companies that were not linked to him until his death or with other persons named in his will. That has been the case in all the Achimota Forest lands he named in his will.
The ministry’s statement, which is signed by the sector minister, Samuel A. Jinapor, however, did not end there.
“That said, given the totality of the circumstances of the said allegations, I, as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, have directed the Lands and Forestry Commissions to deem any ownership of lands, both, in the Achimota Forest and the Sakumono Ramsar Site by the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie as void and are to take the appropriate actions accordingly,” the statement said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the bequeathing of the aforesaid lands, if established, will not pass any interest/title to the named beneficiaries in the alleged will. These lands, the subject matter of the alleged will, shall remain public lands, whether or not it falls within the de-gazetted lands pursuant to EI 144,” the statement added.