Exton Cubic’s lease revocation is “whimsical, capricious and illegal.” Judge tells Amewu

The company’s vehicles and machinery were seized and detained for weeks

An Accra High court has quashed a decision by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu to revoke mining licenses of Exton Cubic to prospect for bauxite in the Ashanti region describing the decision to revoke the lease as “whimsical, capricious and illegal.”

The court held the minister was not clothed with such adjudicatory powers on the matter of mining in the Nhyinahin bauxite concession of the Tano Offin forest reserve in the region.

Justice Kweku Ackah-Boafo, delivering his ruling said the decision by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister to forbid a company owned by the former President’s brother was in part, “self-serving”.

The court, however, dismissed an application by Exton Cubic for an injunction restricting the minister or his agents from interfering with its acquired rights.

Moments after the ruling, counsel for the applicant, Edudzi Tamakloe hailed the decision as a strong signal to government officials who take unilateral decisions on these matters, to be advised.

In his ruling, the trial judge upheld the arguments put forward by the plaintiffs and duly declared Exton Cubic Limited as the legitimate owners of the concession in dispute directing the appropriate authorities to restore their revoked leases.

He also directed that the company should be given an opportunity to remedy the areas it had faulted during the processes describing the decision to revoke the lease as “whimsical, capricious and illegal.”

It would be recalled that the company last year was in process of transporting heavy-duty equipment to the mining site at Nyinahin when upon a directive from the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah through the District Chief Executive, the company’s vehicles and machinery were seized and detained for weeks.

This incident was followed by series of events which saw the Lands and Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu make a u-turn confirming that indeed Exton Cubic had leases to the concession but revoked the lease after the Environmental Protection Agency and Minerals Commission took up the matter.

Whiles the Minerals Commission claimed Exton Cubic had not obtained the necessary approvals and permits required by law from the Forestry Commission, Water Resources Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or any other regulatory body, The EPA said it had not granted the company the lease to mine but to prospect.

The Minerals Commission’s claim was based on Article 268(1) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 5(4) of Act 703.

On the application filed at the High Court, lawyers for Exton Cubic argued that the leases granted the company “can only be validly revoked on the grounds statutorily provided for, in accordance with due process and in the manner contractually agreed upon.”

The lawyers further argued that their client, Exton Cubic has not violated any of the grounds outlined in the various mining laws based on which a mining lease can be revoked. The lawyers categorically denied the claim that Exton Cubic failed to comply with its Environmental Assessment obligations describing it as “unfounded and false.”

They exhibited proof in court to show that “their client duly complied with all of its Environmental Assessment obligations.”

Exton Cubic alleged that the Minister exceeded his powers in revoking the lease granted it.

The Nyinahin bauxite concession is within the enclave Vice President Dr. Mahmud Bawumia is using as leverage for a Chinese loan.

Source: Antwi Boasiako John

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