All the ballyhoo over Exton Cubic Group’s acquisition of the proper permit to undertake mining activities at Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region, which has led to the arbitrary seizure of equipment belonging to Engineers & Planners, is nothing but froth from hounding stirs by an NPP regime actor, The Gazette has learnt.
Information from within the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) indicates that the whole drama is the cause of a puppeteer who is using the NPP’s incumbency to act on covetous desire to snatch mining concession and also take revenge.
Bernard Antwi Boasiako, alias Wontumi, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the ruling NPP, wants the mining concession that Exton Cubic acquired in 2016 to be turned over to his company, the Hansol Group of Companies.
He also wants his party to make Ibrahim Mahama, younger brother of former President John Mahama, suffer for what he views as persecution that Hansol had suffered at the hands of an Inter-Ministerial taskforce that President Mahama had set up in 2013.
Wontumi, a semi literate galamseyer, had had numerous brushes with the law under President Mahama as Hansol, which was involved in small-scale mining, suffered a lot of clampdowns by the Inter Ministerial taskforce set up by Mahama.
At a point, Hansol’s equipment had been confiscated by the authorities.
Wontumi, while doing galamsey through Hansol, had also encouraged Chinese expatriates to undertake the same small scale mining that has degenerated into the full blown galamsey menace that President Akufo-Addo is fighting now.
Using his position as the chairman for Ghana-China Business Chamber of Commerce, he had had a lot of difficulties with law enforcement agents under President Mahama, fighting arrests and seizure of galamsey equipment owned by Chinese expatriates.
As his party is now in power, Wontumi sees it as opportune, therefore, not only to act on covetous desires to grab mining concessions secured by Exton Cubic, a company affiliated to Ibrahim Mahama, but to also revenge for all the troubles that he went through as a galamseyer under President John Mahama.
Already, Ibrahim Mahama has been publicly declared as an enemy of the NPP government by the ruling party’s MP for Assin Central, Ken Agyapong, who has vowed to commit suicide if Ibrahim Mahama is not jailed.
Mr. Mahama has already had a roughening-up by the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) which invited him in April, this year, over monies that he owed the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Even though Ibrahim Mahama and the GRA had had a payment plan in place, EOCO constituted itself into unsolicited debt collector for the GRA and breathed down the business mogul’s neck to force him to repay all his debt ahead of schedule.
On the Nyinahin battlefront, Wontumi, the galamseyer with Chinese friends, is using Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, whose appointment he (Wontumi) had lobbied for, to do the dirty hatchet job of hounding of Ibrahim Mahama, sources say.
Earlier in the year, the Ashanti Regional Minister’s convoy to a program to confirm the Mayor of Kumasi, Osei Assibey Antwi, had allegedly carried along Asia Huang, the notorious Chinese galamsey queen, even though the minister denied any connection to her.
Mr. Osei Mensah, who has seized equipment of E&P, through the District Chief Executive of Atwima Mponua, Williams Darko, has vowed not to release the equipment, which had been moved there to prospect for bauxite on a concession there.
Defying his own government’s sector Minister, Lands and Natural Resources portfolio helmsman, Peter Amewu, Mr. Osei Mensah has pooh-poohed a direct order for the equipment to be released, demanding that Mr. Amewu personally furnish him with documents which secured Exton Cubic the permit to prospect for bauxite at Nyinahin.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, who has said he will not accept any such documents furnished to him by either Exton Cubic or E&P, has also said that the companies can go to hell.
The totally unbecoming behavior of the Ashanti Regional Minister, potentiates court suit that could lead to judgment debts against the state – Exton Cubic has hinted it might go to court.
Amidst the drama, Chairman Wontumi’s Hansol is said to be going through the motions to acquire some mining concessions from his party’s government.
The details are still emerging, but the same Wontumi is seen to have been totally silent on the misbehavior of the Ashanti Regional Minister, even though he is on record to have slapped his party’s Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia North for similarly misbehaving in a way that made the NPP unpopular in the eyes of voters.
Hon. Collins Owusu Amankwaah was given a dirty slap by Wontumi for allegedly making the NPP unpopular to voters during the 2016 election.
Recently, Wontumi told Accra-based Neat FM that, as long as he is alive, he will not allow Ibrahim Mahama to do mining while the NPP is in power.
But the arrogant abuse of incumbency in the matter of Exton Cubic’s mining lease at Nyinahin is said to also be laced with hypocrisy.
Williams Darko, the Atwima Mponua MCE, whom the Ashanti Regional Minister has used to seize E&P’s equipment, partook in the processes leading up to Cubic Exton securing the mining concession.
According to sources, the company’s lease had been brought to the attention of the Atwima Mponua District Assembly in 2015, at the time when the current DCE was an Assembly Member.
William Darko had applauded the move by Exton to explore the bauxite of the district at a hotel where the Assembly members had been hosted by the company to engage them on the issue as part of the processes leading to the physical prospecting.
Mr. Darko’s predecessor, former DCE, Stephen Yeboah, has since confirmed the involvement of the current DCE in those processes. However, after he had mobilized the youth to violently seize the equipment of E&P recently, Mr. William Darko, the new DCE for Atwima Mponua, said E&P and Exton Cubic’s lease rights were not known to him.
“I personally stopped the mining equipment of Engineers & Planners from entering the concession until I get the necessary documentations and later informed the police.
“I have vowed to protect any property of the state and I won’t allow anybody to mine the in bauxite concession until they bring me the necessary documents,” he told Accra based Adom FM, in reaction to concerns raised by the Chief of Nyinahini, Nana Amanpene Twum Boateng II, that his incitement of the youth was a dangerous thing that could have led to a repeat of the Major Mahama lynching incident at Denkyira Oboase, there.
Amidst the seeming political witch-hunting, E&P’s equipment are still grounded even though Exton Cubic has threatened to sue over the grounding.
The company has since also published documents showing that it has permit from the Forestry Commission to prospect for bauxite in Nyinahin.
However, even that evidence has come under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has released a statement, saying that it has not given Exton Cubic permit to mine at Nyinahin.
Even though Exton is only prospecting, the EPA statement gave the impression that the company was already mining.
But Rafiq Mahama, a spokesperson for Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, has pointed out that even as Exton is only prospecting, and not mining at the moment, the company has written twice to the EPA requesting for a permit.
The EPA has since not issued the requested permit and yet the same EPA came out publicly creating the impression that Exton is already mining.
Mr. Rafiq, who spoke to Accra-based Radio Gold, also said it was unfortunate that the EPA has said other permits that Exton has acquired, including an environmental permit that the EPA itself gave Exton, had been rendered invalid because of Exton not securing a prospecting permit from the same EPA.
According to him, given that Exton already has written two letters to the EPA requesting the same thing and yet the EPA has not replied, the publication by the EPA to the effect that it has not granted mining permit is totally unnecessary.
Mr. Rafiq said the two letters had been furnished to the EPA on 29th March and 18th July respectively and that Exton is yet to receive replies to those letters, even though the same EPA granted Exton an environmental assessment permit on 7th of June, 2016.
Emphasizing that Exton is still going through the processes to secure two more permits – one from Water Resources Commission and another from the EPA itself – in addition to what it has already secured from the Forestry Commission, Mr. Rafiq added, for good measure, that Exton is only prospecting, and not mining at this stage.
As the whole development bears the markings of witch-hunting, Mr. Rafiq was however hopeful that the desire of only a few people in the NPP government to sabotage Ibrahim Mahama over the Nyinahin mining concession is not subscribed to by President Akufo-Addo himself.
interestingly however, it is not only Wontumi who appears to wish the downfall of Ibrahim Mahama, Ken Agyapong, a man who is a boogeyman to President Akufo-Addo, because he holds a secret to how the NPP really won the 2016 election, also wants Ibrahim Mahama to suffer.
Mr. Agyapong has sworn fair and foul to ensure that Ibrahim Mahama is jailed.
The Ashanti Region Minister, Simon Osei, clashed with his colleague Lands and Natural Resouces Minister, Peter Amewu, for authorising the prospecting of bauxite in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve.
Mr. Amewu’s Ministry, through the Forestry Commission, recently issued a license to Exton Cubic Group Limited, to mine bauxite in the Ashanti Region amidst a clampdown on illegal mining activities.
The mining company, in turn, engaged E&P, a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former President John Mahama. E&P was to use its equipment to undertake a prospective service.
But hours after E&P moved its men and logistics to the site, the police, through the Atwima Mponua District Chief Executive (DCE), impounded the E&P equipment, citing improper documentation.
Mr. Osei-Mensah has explained that, he directed the equipment to be seized because he had not been properly briefed about the work of Exton in the region.
He said he requested for appropriate documentations from Mr. Amewu to be sent to him but that has not been done.
Exton Cubic Group Limited has said the Ashanti Regional Minister’s assertions that it is scheming with E&P to engage in illegal mining at the Nyinahin bauxite concession were false.
According to the Exton, the Nyinahin Bauxite concession was legally acquired on August 14, 2013.
“We wish to state unequivocally that Exton Cubic Group has never engaged in any illegal mining activity in Ghana,” Exton said in a statement following the seizure of trucks and other equipment belonging to E&P.
“It came to us as a surprise when without any lawful excuse, the District Chief Executive of Atwima Mponua District Assembly and the Ashanti Regional Minister caused the trucks of the subcontractor to be impounded in the center of the Nyinahin township,” a spokesperson for the company, Sammy Gyamfi had said.
But the Regional Minister said he cannot be cowed into submission threatening that he will remain resolute and follow the laid down mining laws.
Simon Osei-Mensah further dismissed claims that he is preventing the exploitation of the Nyinahin bauxite because it’s been used as collateral for a Chinese loan facility.
Earlier in the year, news reports had connected him to Asia Huang, the Chinese galamsey queen that was arrested over illegal mining. He has since denied any such connection.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels