Who born dog? Would EPA have talked if Mahama were still President?

John Mahama Batakari 1 Former President John Mahama

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 Source: Enimil Ashon

Knowing Ghana the way we have known her since 1957 – the traditional “yes sir, massa” compliant nature of public servants, including heads of State Owned Enterprises, all of whom have their positions at the pleasure of a strongman-President; some of whom are politicians without disguise; some of whom are boot-lickers without apology and only a few of whom would contemplate the fate of “going home to chew sand” when fired – are we really sure we should give a round of applause to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)? and the Minerals Commission?

I have read the EPA’s statement backgrounding Exton Cubic’s involvement, from March 29, 2016, when it applied for three separate Environmental Permits to undertake the prospecting of bauxite, and the fact that the company reneged on the conditions precedent, including failure to notify the EPA as soon as prospecting activities commenced.

It states that though the company acquired a Mining Lease on December 26, 2016 from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, it needed a new permit but that has not been granted by the EPA.

The agency’s ruling is: “Failure of the company to comply with the above-stated conditions as at the time of the issuance of this press release has rendered all environmental permits null and void”.

Final verdict: “Any mining activity to be conducted by Exton Cubic Group Limited within the concession areas... is not consistent with the Environmental Assessment Procedures of the EPA, LI1652 and is, therefore, illegal.”

Last Wednesday, the Minerals Commission directed Exton Cubic Group Limited to halt operations at the Nyinahin bauxite concession, saying that the validity of the company’s forestry permit was strictly contingent upon its fulfilment of “all statutory regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water Resources Commission (WRC), and the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission pertaining to legitimate mining operations in a forest reserve.”

It said though Exton Cubic applied for a permit to undertake the prospecting of bauxite in the area; it failed to comply with EPA regulations rendering the permits null and void.

Admirable boldness!

Last week, the youth of Nyinahin in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region seized the mining equipment belonging to Ibrahim Mahama’s Engineers and Planners (E&P), which was undertaking some preparatory work in the forest for Exton Cubic.

I have only one question to ask: Would the EPA and the Minerals Commission have had the nerve (the temerity, the audacity – give me more synonyms) to issue the statements quoted above; could anyone have dared to seize equipment belonging to the brother of former President,John Mahama, – if there had been no change of government last December?

Who born dog!

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, acting through then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, on December 29, 2016, entered into and granted Exton Cubic Group Limited the mining leases. The gravamen (apologies to Kwesi Pratt) of my case today is based on what is known as “The spirit of the law”. Going by the Constitution, the ministry broke no law: legally the NDC was still in power on the day it granted the leases.

The question, however, is: Is the law just the paper gazetted and printed by Assembly Press? Is it fair to the people of Ghana that a government that had lost power in an election and was waiting to exit in a few days, should be signing mining leases – to a company in which the President’s brother has an interest?

Can former President, John Mahama’s then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources look at the face of his G(g)od and swear he did not know the President’s brother was even remotely connected to the company? Africa – the continent where strong men reign.

In Angola where for the first time in 38 years, a new President has been elected, the truth that has emerged is that former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos prepared his back well. The newly elected President, João Lourenço, was chosen by the former President.

Last month, the government of dos Santos passed new laws which have the effect of preventing the next president from firing the military, police, and intelligence chiefs whom he (Dos Santos) appointed. Dos Santos will continue as leader of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) while his daughter Isabel will stay in charge of Sonangol, the state oil company, to which she was appointed in June 2016, and Jose Filomeno, son of dos Santos, will remain in charge of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. In June, dos Santos was granted a seat on the Council of the Republic, a presidential advisory body whose members enjoy immunity from prosecution. The strongman has broken no law. But is the law just paper?

Back in Ghana, I ask: Can ex-President Mahama assure the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God and his Sunday School teacher, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, that he did not know about the Bus branding; that Smarttys, the company that executed the branding, was paid even before a contract was signed?

Still in Ghana, is it reasonable to accept that the brilliant lawyers at Auditor General’s Department did not know that the department had power to retrieve stolen moneys from corrupt civil servants – until Occupy Ghana’s legal prayer to the Supreme Court in 2016?

Columnist: Enimil Ashon