Supreme Court Decides Ibrahim’s Bauxite Fate

Ibrahim Mahama

The Supreme Court has set July 31 to deliver
its judgement on the Attorney-General’s (A-G) writ challenging the decision of
an Accra High Court to grant an application of certiorari filed by Exton Cubic
Group Limited over three mining leases it obtained ‘illegally’.

The A-G last year filed the writ insisting that
the High Court, presided over by Justice Kweku Ackah Boafo, lacked the
jurisdiction to “grant a certiorari to enforce or protect a non-existent
right.”

According to the Office of the A-G, the three
mining leases were not properly obtained by the company, owned by former
President Mahama’s younger brother and said the High Court should not have
granted the application for judicial review filed by lawyers of Ibrahim’s
company.

Judicial
Review

An Accra High Court (General Jurisdiction
Division) on February 8, 2018, granted the application for judicial review
filed by Exton Cubic that was challenging the decision of then Minister of
Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, to cancel the mining leases of
the company by “just the stroke of a pen.”

The court held that the minister exceeded his
powers when he ‘clothed’ himself with the jurisdiction to determine the
legality or otherwise of the lease.

The same court in its ruling held that Exton
Cubic did not have a mining right as the leases were not acquired through the
means as required by law.

According to the court, going through the
processes leading to the signing of the mining lease shows that the lease did
not comply with the statute; the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703).

The court also refused two other reliefs sought
by Exton Cubic including the application for an injunction restraining the
minister from interfering with its (Exton Cubic Ltd’s) rights acquired by
virtue of the leases, as well as an order of injunction restraining the
minister from granting the rights acquired by the mining leases.

A-G’s
Challenge

Not satisfied with the decision, the A-G
proceeded to the Supreme Court arguing that the presiding judge committed a
“grave error” in his reasons advanced in quashing the letter written by the minister
in respect of the supposed Exton Cubic lease.

Deputy
A-G’s Argument

“It is our respectful submission that the
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in writing the letter on 4th
September, 2017, was only stating the obvious situation of the purported leases
being invalid and of no effect for non-compliance with the law. He did not from
the wording of his letter, terminate or revoke any lease,” Deputy A-G, Godfred
Yeboah Dame pointed out yesterday.

The A-G is, therefore, praying for an order
from the Supreme Court directed at the High Court to bring its decision to the
apex court for it to be quashed.

It says, “The High Court acted without
jurisdiction when it heard and determined the suit of the interested party (Exton
Cubic Group Limited) in violation of the mandatorily prescribed   provisions of Section 27 of Act 703.

Response

Lawyer for Exton Cubic, Osafo Buabeng, opposed
the application saying the law did not expressly give any timeline for parliamentary
ratification regarding the issue before the High Court and that there must be an
existing mining lease before ratification.

He contended that once they had a mining lease, they had a right which ought to be protected.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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