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17.01.2011 General News

A-G flops in court

By Ghanaian Chronicle
Martin Hamidu, Minister of The InteriorMartin Hamidu, Minister of The Interior
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A HIGH Court in Accra, presided over by His Lordship, Justice Kwabena Asuman-Adu, has restrained the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice from granting permits to any other company to enter the legally acquired forest reserves by Jowak Sawmills Limited.

The court directed that allocations made by the FC to Fort Williams Company Limited, the third defendant, was null and void, and urged the Forestry Commission to immediately grant a permit to Jowak Company Limited, in respect of a number of forest reserves he bought and fully paid for in the Western corridors of Ghana.

“It is hereby ordered that the purported re-allocation of the Western Region (Ghana/Cote d'Ivoire boundary teak) forest reserve to 3rd Defendant (Fort Williams Co. Ltd) or any other company is cancelled.”

The court awarded a cost of GH¢50,000 against the defendants – Attorney-General and Forestry Commission, who were sued jointly and severally.

According to the court, the claim that Jowak was to pay GH¢1,243,047.00 to the Forestry Commission was wrong, considering the fact before it, that the plaintiff had duly paid for the concession, and was above all, not notified that he should pay for what was allocated to him, as replacement and compensation.

“From the evidence before the court, plaintiff has led sufficient evidence to prove that in view of the full payment made by it, in respect of the allocation of seventeen forest reserves made to it, it is not supposed to make any further payment in respect of the allocation of the disputed area to it.

'This is because the disputed area, together with other two areas, was allocated to the plaintiff as replacement and compensation for the areas lost.'

The court, therefore, saw no reason for the plaintiff to pay the alleged additional sum of GH¢1,243,047, and revealed that the Forest Commission had no basis to take away the Ghana/Cote d'Ivoire boundary teak trees from Mr. Amankrah and re-allocate it to another company, when it had not fully resolved the issues on it with the plaintiff.

“2nd Defendant (Forestry Commission) is, therefore, stopped from allocating the Ghana/Cote d'Ivoire boundary teak trees to Fort Williams, and I hold so.”

Mr. Amankrah, whose company nearly collapsed because of media reports that he was hugely indebted to the Forestry Commission, prompting President Mills to force him to resign from the board, was full of joy that the rule of law was prevailing in Ghana.

Mr. Amankrah had fully paid for seventeen forest reserves during President Kufuor's regime, but the acquired reserves were later re-allocated to another company, and he was subsequently, stopped from operating in the reserves.

The then Minister of Lands and Mines, Esther Obeng Daapah, together with the FC, later resolved the impasse, and replaced the concession for him.

But, days after this decision had been taken, Mr. Amankra was accused of owing huge sums of money to the FC, which he denied.

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