Botchwey, G (2021) Compensation for lands compulsorily acquired by the state: Issues of non-completion of acquisition, non-payment of compensation and potential unjust enrichment, UCC Law Journal, Vol. 1. No. 2 (2021), pp221-238, https://www.researchgate.

The exercise of eminent domain by the State to undertake compulsory acquisition of property for public benefit was used by the British colonial administration to secure lands for public infrastructure such as roads, streets, public service institutions and others. The post-independent governments assumed this power and applied it to acquire lands and properties for public purpose or benefit from the 1960s to date. However, compulsory acquisitions have been fraught with problems such as non-completion of laid-down acquisition processes and non-payment of compensation to owners of property immediately before the acquisitions were made, even though the public institutions on whose behalf executive instruments were issued to initiate the acquisitions have occupied the lands or properties. This study focused on why this situation occurs, and whether or not it is just. Analytical legal research methods were used to investigate the issues of the study through critical review of constitutional provisions, enactments, regulations, case law, and legal texts. The findings show that the acquisition processes tend to exclude the owners immediately before the acquisition, and the acquisitions by the State remain valid since they were based on appropriate legislation. However, the rightful owners tend to lose their property by operation of law or due to barriers imposed by limitation statutes. The article concludes that this situation borders on potential unjust enrichment to the State which gains property without payment by operation of the rules created for compulsory acquisition.

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