An Accra High Court has quashed the decision by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, to revoke the mining lease of mining company, Exton Cubic Group Limited, to prospect in the Nyinahini bauxite concession of the Tano Offin Forest Reserve.
According to the court, the Minister, Peter Amewu, exceeded his powers by withdrawing the license of the mining company, which has affiliations with Ibrahim Mahama’s Engineers and Planners (E&P).
Mr. Amewu, revoked the company’s leases and licenses to prospect in the Nyinahini bauxite concession of the Tano Offin Forest Reserve, describing the company’s operations there as illegal because of invalid mining leases.
But the judge, Justice Kwaku Ackah Boafo, held that the decision was not grounded in law and violated the principle of natural justice.
He added that, it was only the court which could revoke mining licenses in such circumstances.
The judge also questioned how Mr. Amewu could assume the role as an adjudicator, while he was a stakeholder in the matter.
Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, who represented the state,had opposed the application describing it as incompetent in form and lacking substance.
Exton Cubic after a series of threats in October 2017, filed an application for a review of the decision to revoke the company’s leases to prospect in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve.
The company had also complained that it was being targeted by the government for political reasons, due to Ibrahim Mahama’s relations with former President John Dramani Mahama.
In their suit, the company argued that the Minister’s decision was unreasonable, unjust, and an abuse of his powers.
The company, among others, sought a declaration that “the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources acted ultra vires [beyond] his statutory powers when he revoked Exton Cubic Group Limited mining leases.”
It also contended that, revoking of its license was “breach of the rules of natural Justice”, and in breach of the company’s “rights to administrative justice and property.”
The matter came to public attention when earth moving equipment and vehicles belonging to Exton Cubic’s sub-contractor, Ibrahim Mahama’s Engineers and Planners (E&P), were impounded at Nyinahin, the community where the forest reserve is located.
This was on the orders of the Ashanti Regional Minister following suspicions the mining company was operating illegally.
At the time, Mr. Amewu came out to say that his Ministry had granted Exton Cubic Group Limited an entry permit into the Nyinahin bauxite concession.
Why permit was first revoked
Mr. Amewu had explained that, the directive was issued because the company’s three mining leases were invalid.
The Minister said the company’s failure to provide key documents covering its acceptance of the lease, notice of pendency; environmental impact assessment and other statutory requirements rendered the leases invalid.
In a letter to Exton Cubic, Mr. Amewu said “the absence of publications of the Gazette of notice of the pendency of the company’s applications and service of the notice on the various entities specified in the law is contrary to both section 13(2) of Act 703 and Regulation 177 of L.I. 2176 [Minerals and Mining Regulations.]”