General News of Friday, 12 July 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.