Write Secret Letter Threatening Lonrho Ports US$600 Million Investors
Five New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs), who dragged the government to Secondi High Court to prevent the construction of the US$600 million Oil and Gas Freeport Project by Lonrho Ports Limited of United Kingdom (UK), has been caught in a possible blackmail tactics.
In a secret letter written to the UK-based investors, the NPP MPs threatened that “we are …determined to use not just legal actions, but also all legitimate actions…” to prevent the company from having its way.
Insiders at Lonrho Ports Limited in UK,, are wondering the motive behind the letter with many suggesting that it was tactically written by the MPs to enable the company make overtures to them by way of buying their silence with huge cash.
Some also saw the letter, as a ploy by the five opposition MPs to pullout of the case altogether, having been described as anti-employment legislators.
The letter, intercepted by The Herald was dated yesterday, November 6, 2014, and written by Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the MP for Takoradi Constituency in the Western Region.
Mr. Darko-Mensah, who provided his personal mobile phone number and email address to the Lonrho officials wrote, “I write on behalf of Hon Joseph Cudjoe, Hon Hawa Koomson, Hon Kofi Brako, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng and myself, to urge Lonrho Ports to proceed with the Atuabo Freeport Project”.
The five MPs, were thrown out of the Sekondi High Court for trying to use the court to thwart the powers of Parliament.
They wrote, “As you well know, the matter we put before the Sekondi High Court, which matter we have again put before the Appeals Court, has nothing to do with the Atuabo Freeport. The matter we are asking the Appeals Court to resolve is the restriction imposed on the expansion of oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port. There is no controversy on the Atuabo Freeport”.
It is not clear yet to The Herald, if the company has indeed, gone to the Court of Appeal, to challenge the decision of the Sekondi High Court, which has said that it has no powers to overturn the approval given to Lonrho Ports to undertake the US$600 million Oil and Gas Freeport Project.
In the letter, the MPs said “Many Ghanaians are anxious to see investors invest in our country to expand our economy and to create jobs. Ghanaians, especially our brothers and sisters in the Atuabo area, therefore want to see you begin work on the Atuabo Freeport, and we respectfully urge you to do so without further delay”.
According to them, “What many of us are opposed to and are determined to fight to the very end is the restriction that has been imposed on a national asset such as the Takoradi Port. In the same way Lonrho Ports Ltd has been given the freedom to build, operate and expand the Atuabo Freeport as you deem fit, we believe the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) must also be given the freedom to build, operate and expand the facilities at the Takoradi Port as they deem fit”.
They said “It is worth noting that Parliament recently approved a loan of €197 million for the expansion of the oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port. GPHA is again securing another US$400 million to support the expansion programme”.
The MPs noted that “Imposing this restriction on the Port would therefore make it impossible for it to repay these loans. This will collapse the Port, render its workers jobless and create many socio-economic problems for the entire Sekondi-Takoradi, Shama and Ahanta areas”.
“Indeed, tying the hands of Takoradi Port just so that a foreign company such as yours can maximise your profits within the shortest possible time is wrong, especially so when the restriction offends the Ghana Ports & Harbour Authority Act. We are therefore determined to use not just legal actions but also all legitimate actions to remove this unlawful restriction”, they explained.
“We, however, welcome Lonrho Ports to invest in the Atuabo Freeport Project. Our court action has nothing to do with you. Ghana and Britain are friends, and we are glad to see British nationals work in our country. Please proceed with the Atuabo Freeport Project”, they concluded.
Many have, however, said the MPs, have no authority whatsoever to write directing the Lonrho to go ahead with the US$600 million project, since the company has already secured the approval of the government and Parliament.