Seizure of our equipment is political witch-hunting – Ibrahim Mahama’s company 

Exton Cubic Group Limited, the mining company at the centre of the Nyinahini bauxite concession saga, owned by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, has stated emphatically that the seizure of its heavy duty machines on the way to Nyinahini in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region on the orders of Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei Prempeh, is a “complete political witch-hunt.”

According to the company, the scheme by Mr. Prempeh with the tacit support of the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Atwima Mponua District, Mr. William Darko, and other big men of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to organise their boys to undermine Exton Cubic Group was a clear indication of political witch hunting aimed at “sabotaging Mr. Ibrahim Mahama and his company in order to settle their personal scores.

“The attempt by certain individuals of the NPP to whip up sentiment against Exton Cubic Group and Mr. Ibrahim Mahama is surely attested to the fact that they want to collapse our business because the company is owned by the younger brother of former President John Dramani Mahama. “…we want to tell them that Mr. Ibrahim Mahama is a true citizen of Ghana who is a business tycoon and have a legitimate right to set up a mining company in Ghana.

…And that he is not a politician and therefore they should stop the continuous habit of politicising his businesses in Ghana because their agenda to collapse his businesses will not see the light of the day,” Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Exton Cubic Group Limited, Mr. Sammy Gyamfi, stressed. Addressing a press conference in Accra last week to set the records straight, Mr. Gyamfi maintained that his outfit was not into any illegal mining in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region as the impression was being created.

According to him, the company is only engaged in prospecting for bauxite in the area when its equipment were seized recently at Nyinahin on suspicion that it was going to engage in illegal bauxite mining.  The company said on the day that its machines were seized by the residents of Nyinahin and the District Chief Executive for the area, Williams Darko, it was actually moving to the site to meet officials of the Minerals Commission who had gone to inspect its prospecting activities on the controversial concession.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dismissed Exton Cubic Group Limited’s claim that it has an environmental permit to mine bauxite in the forest reserve.  According to the EPA, the company – with Ibrahim Mahama’s wife, Oona Maxwell; his brother, Michael Mahama, as well as a certain Kweku Pobee as directors – would be acting illegally if it went ahead with its activities without recourse to the environment overseer.

But Mr. Gyamfi told journalists at the press conference that contrary to claims that the equipment were impounded in the forest reserve, they were actually seized in the centre of the Nyinahin township on the said date.

He stated that Exton Cubic had spent a total of $20 million on prospecting and exploratory activities in the area, and has all documentary evidence to prove that it was not doing anything illegal.

Mr. Gyamfi pointed out that in 2013, the company was granted a permit by the Minerals Commission to undertake due diligence in the area; on December 24, 2015, it was granted a prospecting licence and lease issued on December 29, 2016.

He noted that the company also has a two-year environmental permit from the EPA in 2016 which is expected to expire in 2018, as well as a permit from the Forestry Commission this year and that it was unthinkable to hear that the EPA had issued a statement in the media purporting to revoke its environmental permit when it (EPA) had not even engaged officials of the company first as professionalism requires.

Mr. Gyamfi also pointed out that the Minerals Commission was fully aware of the company’s prospecting activity in the area and that the company was not mining because it knew it was not done with all the processes involved before starting to mine.  “Exton Cubic has not engaged and is not engaged in any mining activity. We want to assure the general Ghanaian public, our partners and financiers, international investors, that Exton Group is doing legitimate business in Ghana.

We are not doing anything illegal,” Mr. Gyamfi said.  According to Mr. Gyamfi, since the equipment were impounded, Engineers and Planners (E&P) – also owned by Ibrahim Mahama — which equipment were impounded – and Exton Cubic had been losing a whopping amount of US$ 40,000 daily.

There are concerns that the lease issued to Exton Cubic on December 29, 2016 barely a few days for the government of Mr. John Dramani Mahama to hand over power to the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, lacked parliamentary ratification.

When asked Mr. Gyamfi whether that was the reality, he responded in the affirmative, but said it was not the responsibility of Exton Cubic, a private company, to go to Parliament for ratification but rather the responsibility of the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, after all due processes, had been undertaken.  He argued that the company fully understood that it could not undertake any mining activity deemed to be legal insofar as its lease had no parliamentary ratification, and so it was not mining.

 

Minerals & Mining Matters

…with Freeman Koryekpor Awlesu

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