Ghana’s social media space has been awash with news and reports about the purported sale of the official residence of the country’s Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin.
The Speaker of Parliament of the West African country made the revelation when he addressed representatives of civil society organisations at an event dubbed Speaker’s Breakfast Forum held on Nov. 20, 2023.
“Ghana’s start to democratic journey is known to all and needs no further mention. Unlike the executive and the judicial arms of government, we [legislature] lost almost all our [Parliament] properties.
“Many of you don’t know that even the residence of the Speaker was almost sold to the private sector. Actually, it was given out… Luckily, I was inside, so it was saved,” Mr Bagbin said at the event.
The media reaction
Hours after the address, some media organisations in the country reported the third gentleman of Ghana, saying that “his official residence was sold to a private developer while in occupation.”
“The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has revealed that his Cantonments residence was sold to a private developer while he was still residing in it,” read the lead story of Accra-based Ghanaweb.
The headline of a report filed by Ghanaeducation.org was “My residence at Cantonments was sold while I was in it – Bagbin.”
“In a surprising revelation at the Speaker’s Breakfast Forum…Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin disclosed a startling incident regarding the sale of his residence at Cantonments while he was still living in it,” Ghanaeducation.org wrote.
Also, a section of Ghanaians took to social media to ask the government to identify the official(s) behind the attempted sale of the speaker’s residence.
“Who is behind the attempted fraudulent sale of the official residence of the Speaker of Parliament?”
Another Facebook user, Alfred Ogbamey, wrote:
“Amazing Ghana! Speaker of Parliament Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin today revealed at the Speaker’s Breakfast Forum that the country’s official Speaker’s residence at Cantonment, Accra, was sold to a private developer without notice.”
On his part, Kwame Sarpong took to X (formerly Twitter) asking:
“I hear the Speaker of Parliament says, the Speaker’s residence in Cantonments was nearly sold to a private developer? It appears the Speaker is ignorant about what the NPP can do. They can even sell you.”
Another X user, Yaw Eduful, expressed his surprise at the news report when he said:
“So an attempt was made to sell the official residence of the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament? Eeeeeiiii.”
Response from the Lands Commission of Ghana and government officials
Riding on the back of the media reports, the Lands Commission of Ghana, the statutory body responsible for managing public lands, issued a statement disputing the purported sale of the Speaker’s residence.
“The Lands Commission wishes to state emphatically that at no point in time was the said property sold to a private developer.
“The Lands Commission is, therefore, unaware of the purported sale of the Speaker of Parliament’s official residence to a private developer,” the Commission said.
The Commission has, therefore, officially written to the Speaker for further and better particulars on the circumstances surrounding the attempted sale of the property. The full statement can be captured on the Facebook page of the editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, Abdul Kweku Baako Jr.
According to the Commission’s statement; the request is part of an investigation launched by the Lands Minister, Abu Jinapor, to get to the bottom of the attempted sale.
But the Managing Director of the State Transport Corporation (STC), Nana Akomea, said the “supposed sale of the Speaker’s residence is a case of mistaken location.”
“Nobody in their right mind, whether the buyer or the seller, would attempt to sell the official residence of the Speaker of Parliament. So, for it to even happen means that there was mistaken location,” he told Accra-based Joy FM.
Did the Speaker of Parliament say the residence was sold?
The Speaker of Ghana’s legislature, Alban Bagbin, said that his government-assigned residence was sold to a private developer.
In a video of the event posted on YouTube starting from minutes 0:00 to 0:08, Mr Bagbin said his government-allocated facility was given out.
“Actually, it was given out…Luckily, I was inside, so it was saved,” he said in the video posted by Accra-based Joy News.
Despite cautioning the media against publishing sensational stories from his presentation,” Mr Bagbin used the words “actually given out” after saying his residence was “almost sold.”
But he has denied reports that he said his official residence was sold to a private developer while in occupation. Mr Bagbin used the words “actually given out.”
“The Rt. Hon. Speaker did not say that the Speaker’s official residence had been sold. What he said was that it was almost sold,” read a statement issued by Parliamentary Service on Nov. 22, 2023.
In emphasising the attempted sale of the Speaker’s residence, the Service added that,
“A visit to the official residence of Rt. Hon. Speaker will unveil that almost all the surrounding buildings and accompanying parcels of land have been sold out to private developers.
“High-rise apartments have been constructed all around, leaving the Speaker’s residence as an island and endangering the safety and security of the Rt. Hon. Speaker.”
The statement further noted: “A trip down memory lane reveals that sometime in 2019, the official accommodation of the sitting Clerk of Parliament, located in Cantonments was sold to a private developer. Other properties assigned to Parliament have suffered a similar fate.”
Kweku Baako’s new twist
Even before the Lands Commission and the Speaker would come out with the official details about how the supposed attempted sale was done, if at all it was, ace journalist Kweku Baako Jnr has given an idea about how the house belonging to the Clerk to Parliament which was also located in Cantonments was sold.
In what could be described as epistles of how the Clerk’s house was sold, Kweku Baako Jnr has released in batches documents indicating when and how the house was sold.
His first post was captioned, “The first shot on who sold or leased the residence of the sitting clerk to Parliament.”
The official documents indicate that the house was sold in 2015 and not in 2019, as was communicated by the Speaker.Mr Baako has since released several other statements indicating how the house was sold, as seen here and here.