A High Court in the Upper East Region has directed the police to arrest three people including the Assemblyman for Gaare-Gbane (an electoral area in the Talensi District) for failing to appear in court for an ongoing hearing of a civil case related to land ownership and mining.
The assemblyman (John Nabwomya Milim), the two others (Yinbil Zong and Liu Xinlong) and the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd (a Chinese-owned firm) are among some 12 entities slapped in 2020 with a multiparty lawsuit by the Chief of Namoalug (Naab Kolsong Na-Laam Nyuurib) and four elders of that mineral belt of the Talensi District over an alleged dishonest land-lease deal.
The chief and the elders claim that the area where the Chinese mining company currently occupies and operates belongs to Namoalug and that the assemblyman and the other individual defendants (who also are natives of Gaare and Gbane) aided the company some years ago to illegally acquire the 71.16-acre piece of land and another 17.264-acre parcel in dispute.
The presiding judge at the Bolgatanga High Court Two, His Lordship Justice Asmah Akwasi Asiedu, had issued a strong warning over nonappearance of some parties whilst sitting on the case at a previous date— Friday January 15, 2021.
The three men, in complete defiance of that warning, failed to appear when the court sat again on Friday February 26, 2021. For that reason, the judge called for their arrest and awarded a cost of Gh¢10,000 (1,740 United States dollars) against each of the three defendants.
Why the claimants resorted to legal action
The five complainants (the chief and the four elders) turned attention to the law court after a petition they had lodged with the Government of Ghana in 2020 failed to yield the result being sought at the Talensi District Assembly.
That petition came after a number of attempts made by stakeholders to resolve the row through traditional methods had failed.
The petition, dated 9th April, 2020, reads: “It is also imperative to note that the elders of Namoalug employed several traditional conflict resolution mechanisms to let Chief Pubouotaaba Naabil and these alleged leaders refrain from leasing and renting Namoalug lands to the Chinese company. However, it is sad to note that they failed to adhere to our plea as neighbours in resolving this fraudulent lease of our lands to the Chinese company.”
The latest bench warrant against the three individuals follows a self-inflicted twist of fate that had the Chinese company itself charged Gh¢4,000 (696 United States dollars) by same court on same case much earlier (August 2020) for failing to file its Statement of Defence on time in response to the complainants’ Statement of Claim.
The company was expected to file that response within 14 days. But it did so only out of the time stipulated by the court’s rules. Three Chinese-born directors at the company— Wang Xingguo, Liu Xiaoquing and Fen Tielin—also were cited for contempt as the company reportedly continued to work even after a notice of application for interlocutory injunction filed by the complainants’ lawyers— Dr. Peter Atudiwe Atupare and Limann A. Mohammed— had been duly served on the company’s management. The case has been adjourned to Friday March 19, 2021.
By Edward Adeti, Upper East, Daily Mail GH