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Court throws out Ibrahim Mahama’s Exton Cubic suit

A five-member panel of Supreme Court justices, presided over by Justice Sophia Adenyira, has dismissed an application by Exton Cubic Limited, owned by businessman Ibrahim Mahama, that challenged the jurisdiction of a High Court in a decision refusing the company compensation for the seizure of its mining equipment.

It was the case of the applicant that there was rival meaning regarding article 268 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and the Human Right Court ought to have referred the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

But, after arguing out their case in court, the apex court said article 268 (1) had already been interpreted and the High Court only applied it.

The court, while dismissing the application, also said the applicants, if nothing at all, should have appealed the case instead of coming to the apex court. 

The other members of the panel presided over by Mrs Justice Adinyera were Justices Anin Yeboah, Sule Gbagbegbe, Samuel Marful- Sau and Prof Nii Ashie Kotey.

The application was unanimously dismissed.

High Court ruling

The Human Rights High Court in Kumasi last year dismissed the case brought against the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, and the District Chief Executive for Atwima Mponua, Mr William Darko, by Exton Cubic for compensation for the seizure of its mining equipment.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice George Addai Kwofa, held that the minister did nothing wrong by seizing the equipment.

In June 14, 2018, the court held that as the political head of the region, the minister acted in good faith, as the presence of the equipment in the forest was causing unrest among the population.

It said since the lease that allowed the company access into the forest was subject to review and withdrawal, the minister acted within the law.

It also held that by the act of the minister, the equipment of the company was protected, as the youth of the town could have vandalised it.

Background

In September 2017, Mr Osei-Mensah ordered the police to seize eight trucks, one Caterpillar generator set and two container offices belonging to Engineers and Planners that had been contracted by the Exton Cubic Group for bauxite prospecting in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve.

During the seizure, the company insisted that it had the legal authorisation from the government to work in the forest reserve.

However, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, explained later that the company failed to meet the legal requirements and so its lease was not valid.

He argued that the failure to obtain environmental and operational permits, as well as the various statutory infractions leading to the purported grant of the three mining leases to the company, rendered the purported leases invalid and of no effect.

Exton Cubic was granted a long lease concession by the Mahama government on December 29, 2016, a few days before it handed over power to the New Patriotic Party government.

Not satisfied with the development, the company filed an application for certiorari to quash Mr Amewu’s decision to revoke the mining leases to the company on September 4, 2017.

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