For Igniting Nhyinahi bauxite Brawl
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, has justified reasons for the seizure of mining equipment belonging to Exton Cubic Group in the region, citing communication mishap on the part of Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, as the cause.
“What people do not understand is that Regional Minister is a Minister of State just like any other Minister of State and it was appropriate and fair for me to be informed of the coming of Exton Cubic in the region”, he said adding “it was in the media I heard that Exton Cubic Group has documentation to mine. I never had any formal communication not even from the Ministry on behalf of the sector minister”.
The Ashanti Regional Minister’s claim, paints a picture of confusion in the Akufo-Addo government on Nhyinahi bauxite concession ,because Mr. Amewu, had on Joy FM insisted that, Exton Cubic Group, had met on the requirements to start prospecting for bauxite at Nhyinahi in the Ashanti Region, but the Regional Minister was adamant.
The Minister on Kumasi-based Otec FM’s ”Nyansapo” claimed he never received formal communication from the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, hence has to swiftly move to seize the mining equipment.
“I am responsible for every government business in the region and people forget the Local Government clause 926 makes me a Minister of State”, he told sit-in-host, Agya Owusu Ansah.
“We are in the same government and I was expecting Peter Amewu to furnish me valid documents to prove that Exton Cubic has permit to enter the Nhyinahi bauxite concession”, he said.
“The President brought me here not to superintendent on bad practices. I am here to take full charge as Minister of State”, Simon Osei Mensah pointed put.
He, however, explained it is not mandatory for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to inform him as Regional Minister responsible for the region, but that could be important since they serve under the same government.
“I think Ghanaians should praise the government on this move for two Ministers of State in a same government to be disagreeing on an issue”.
Simon Osei Mensah, therefore vowed to stop every illegality in the region so far as he remains in office as Ashanti Regional Minister.
Interestingly, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu Constituency, Alex Afenyo-Markin, has accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of enforcing its laws selectively.
“…recently they (EPA) raised issues regarding the mining business of Exton cubic on the grounds that they have not met all the requirements and that they have not issued them with license but the point is that Ghana Bauxite company limited which is also another company into mining has been mining since 2001…and I know for a fact that their (Ghana Bauxite) agreement with government has never come to parliament and they don’t have the requisite documentations and so if they; EPA want to be fair, then they should also stop Ghana bauxite company from operating; it’s just a matter of equality before the law. If they say that Exton Cubic does not have what it takes to mine, then they should look at Ghana Bauxite…” he said on Citi FM Eyewitness news, last Friday.
The EPA is under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Innovation currently led by Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng.
The MP raised this issue on the Floor of Parliament, and the matter was referred to the Finance Committee and according to the MP “Ghana Bauxite appeared and conceded that indeed, their agreement with Ghana has not come to Parliament.”
If you may recall, EPA, had stated that Exton Cubic reneged on commitments to submit a liability estimate of environmental degradation, among others. Subsequently, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, directed the company to stop exploration of bauxite in the Tano Offin Forest reserve because of having an invalid mining agreement.
That is why the MP for Effutu feels the EPA is being selective.
Afenyo-Markin who also raised this same issue at the Public Accounts Committee on Friday added that in the case of Ghana Bauxite, “they are not even paying taxes. They are relying on a supposed memorandum of understanding between them and government and we all know that when it comes to taxation, it is only Parliament that can waive.”
“If they, the EPA, want to apply the law and want to be fair, they should also stop Ghana Bauxite from operating. It is just a matter of equality before the law. If you are saying that Exton Cubic has not met the necessary requirements, please apply same to all these mining companies so that you don’t go and act in a certain manner for the government to take the bashing as if it is political… EPA must be seen to be working and dealing with the law without fear, favour or looking at personalities in accordance with the constitution” he added.
Afenyo-Markin was, however, quick to add that he has no personal interest as far as Exton Cubic is concerned and that he is only ensuring that there is fairness.
“It is about the interest of government and the Ghanaian people” he said.