Two top government officials are breathing fire down the neck of each other over a misunderstanding in a bauxite deal involving the use of equipment owned by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former president John Mahama.
Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu and Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah have clashed over an indigenous company cleared to mine bauxite in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve.
The Lands Ministry through the Forestry Commission issued a license to Exton Cubic Group Limited to mine bauxite in the region on June 20, 2017.
The mining company in turn engaged Engineers and Planners (E&P), a company owned by Mr Mahama, to use its equipment to undertake a prospective service. But hours after E&P moved its men and logistics to site, the police through the Atwima Mponua District Chief Executive (DCE) impounded its equipment, citing improper documentation.
Mr Osei-Mensah explained to Joy News’ Evans Mensah Monday, he directed the equipment to be seized because he had not been properly briefed about the work of Exton Cubic in the region.
He said he requested for appropriate documentations from Mr Amewu to be sent to him but that has not been done.
“When I receive it [document] I will respond to it appropriately,” he said, adding he is not relying on an oral conversation he has had with the Lands Minister on the matter.
The June 20 mining permit letter to Exton Cubic Group Limited was signed by Forestry Commission CEO, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie. It was copied to heads of some key institutions, excluding the Ashanti Regional Minister.
A displeased Osei-Mensah said he will release the equipment after the Lands Minister has provided him documents covering operations of the company.
The setback comes at a time Exton Cubic Group has been sued by NPP Brong Ahafo Regional Youth Organiser, Kwame Baffoe, challenging the bauxite concession granted it in late December, 2016.
The firebrand NPP executive popularly known as Abronye DC wants the Supreme Court to declare that the mining lease agreement between the past government and the company required parliamentary ratification under Section 5(4) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
But Exton Cubic Group has said it is legally mandated to engage in bauxite mining in the country.
Communication Officer for Exton Cubic Group, Samuel Gyamfi said as far as August 14, 2013, the company was granted a due diligence permit to engage in exploration.
This was followed with a mining lease permit in December, 2016 and the clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2017, he said.
“We are not engaged in illegal mining activities,” he told Evans Mensah, adding they were surprised equipment of E&P were impounded without proper communication.
He said the company has dispatched its lawyers to meet the police in Atwima Mponua to settle all outstanding issues to have the equipment released.