Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, appears to have backtracked from his earlier harsh call on former president John Dramani Mahama to vacate his current property in Accra, alleged to be sited on Military land.
According to Mr. Nitiwul, he only advised the former President to leave the disputed land to avoid being drawn into the ongoing battle over the site.
“I mentioned former president Mahama and said that where he was living, that land is in dispute between several Labadi families and the military. It would not be in his interest as former Commander-in-Chief to live there because people are making reference to him as the one living there with others also encroaching,” he said on Eyewitness News.
“If you want to take on somebody, they say the former President is living there as well. I said that if I were him, I would not stay in the place. I said that where Mahama is living is not good for him or for us because big people, top politicians have appropriated military lands so he should leave the area as it won’t help us as a people.”
A fiery Dominic Nitiwul had appeared to state, when he addressed a Meet The Press event last week, that top government official who were living on land taken from the Armed Forces “should leave.”
He criticized the previous administration for their poor handling of matters relating to the country’s Armed Forces, claiming that land belonging to the military had been sold off under their tenure.
“…I am talking about the former President, John Mahama. I will say no more, but I am very disturbed about this. It is happening in Tamale, it is happening in Takoradi and Lands Commission is colluding to do that. People in Lands Commission were selling Armed Forces lands. Not under this watch, that cannot happen any longer, and anybody who decides to encroach on Armed Forces lands should leave. It is not in your interest. I am sorry; but that is the truth that we did not manage the Armed Forces lands very well, ” he noted.
However, Dominic Nitiwul has now insisted that he did not order Mr. Mahama to leave the said land as he had no power to do so, but only recommended that he relocated in his interests.
“I said that I don’t have the power to order [Mahama] to leave the area, but I advised that it would be good for him to leave the area because he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and the military have made it very clear that they need that land. If you go to some portions of Burma Camp, you may not be able to differentiate the military property from civilian property, and that is not good for any us, ” he added.
The Defence Minister came under fire for his comments, with many critics claiming that it was a political vendetta against John Mahama.
The Office of the former President also responded, rubbishing the suggestions that Mr. Mahama had appropriated military land for his benefit.
In a strongly-worded statement which was released in the wake of the Minister’s comments, John Mahama’s Special aide, Joyce Bawah Mogtari stated emphatically that the former President had not taken possession of any land owned by the military and also called for an apology from the Minister.
She also described the comments made by Mr. Nitiwul as irresponsible, and dismissed them as mere propaganda from a state official who is expected to act with more decorum.
However, Dominic Nitiwul has defended his comments suggesting that he sought to assure the military that land belonging to them would be reclaimed as his government had promised.
“We said in our manifesto that we were going to protect military lands, so we didn’t just wake up and start talking about military lands. We’ve done a lot of what we said we’d do except a few things, he explained.
“We have increased the allowances for the soldiers, we have got the 11.1% for the civilian workers, we now pay soldiers at the UN at the operation theatres, and we’ve made sure that we’ve paid all the arrears, and that soldiers are given what they are supposed to get.”