The Attorney General’s Office has filed a suit at the Supreme Court 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.
According to the suit, the High Court, presided over by Justice Kweku Ackah Boafo, lacks the jurisdiction to “grant a certiorari to enforce or protect a non-existent right.”
According to the AG, the purported three mining leases were not properly obtained by the company, owned by Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of former President John Dramani Mahama, and so the court should not have granted the application for judicial review filed by lawyers of the company.
An Accra High Court (General Jurisdiction Division) on February 8, 2018 gave a ruling on an application filed by Ibrahim’s company.
The court granted an application for judicial review filed by the company to challenge the decision of the 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 jurisdiction to determine the legality or otherwise of the lease.
The judge said the minister arrogated himself the role of an adjudicator, as it seems he legitimately believed he was protecting the state resources.
The court however, ruled that Exton Cubic Group Limited 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 Ltd., 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.
Interestingly, in his ruling, Justice Ackah Boafo pointed out that the Supreme Court had held that a failure to comply with a constitutional provision for parliamentary ratification is fatal and creates no rights.
But the Attorney General’s office, according to the suit filed at the Supreme Court, contends that the High Court wrongly assumed jurisdiction when it granted the application for judicial review, which declared the action of the Lands and Natural Resources Minister erroneous in violation of Act 703.
According to the suit, the presiding judge committed a “grave error” in his reasons advanced in quashing the letter written by the minister that he was not a “court of law or had no adjudicatory powers to hold that the leases held by the interested party were of no effect for violations of statutory preconditions.
“It is our respectful submission that the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in writing the letter of 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,” the suit pointed out.
The AG 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 interested party’s (Exton Cubic Group Limited) suit in violation of the mandatorily prescribed provisions of Section 27 of Act 703.
Mr Ibrahim Mahama’s Exton Cubic Limited in November last year filed an application for judicial review at the High Court challenging the decision of the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry to revoke the mining lease granted the company.
The much-talked-about multi-billion cedis bauxite concession granted to Ibrahim Mahama’s company at the tail end of his brother, John Mahama’s presidency, was revoked in September after the Sector Minister, John Peter Amewu, had contended that the lease granted Exton Cubic was invalid.
The state, represented by the Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, had consistently maintained that the leases were illegally obtained and at one point stated that Ibrahim Mahama obtained a fake mining licence from public officers who were under ‘undue influence.’
He stated that it is the sole prerogative of the minister to grant mining leases, subject to parliamentary ratification – a process the Exton Cubic licence did not go through.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak