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Protests Over AG’s Withdrawal  Order To Police; To cease providing security at a disputed mining coy

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Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney General & Minister for Justice

Alfred Tuah- Yeboah. Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

The decision by the Attorney General to order withdrawal of police personnel from Big Stone Mining Company at Bogoso, following a letter he wrote to the IGP to that effect, has been met with wild protest by one of the shareholders.

The Chronicle understands that after the police complied with the AG’s order and vacated the place, private people have taken over the premises of the company.

The Chronicle heard that a faction in dispute over the ownership of the company petitioned the AG over alleged illegal occupation of the company by the police.

The latter is reportedly prosecuting the same petitioners over the alleged falsification of documents to change the ownership structure of the company.

Available information indicate that two Chinese nationals -Yang Liu and Jiangdong Song –

came together to form a company called Big Stone Mining Company, which is into mining in the Western region, with each party holding 50% shares.

The company had Wan Shanhong, another Chinese as Director/Secretary.

Records indicate that Yang Liu, one of the shareholders, together with Wan Shanhong, left Ghana for medical reasons between 2019 and 2020 and left the running of the company in the hands of the other partner, Jiangdong Song.

Upon the return of the duo, they discovered that the shareholding structure of the company had changed at the Register General department.

They, therefore, proceeded to file a civil suit at the High court, since they were not in Ghana to sign any oath transferring the shares of Yang Liu to his partner. They also reported the partner to the Ministries Police for falsification of documents.

On July 15, 2022 the trial court, presided over by her Ladyship Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie, granted Wan Shanhong and Yang Liu an Interlocutory Injunction, which must be in place until the end of the substantive case.

The Registrar General was also directed to return the company registration to its original state.

The Respondents, their agents, etc. where also not to operate the company.

The court also ordered the IGP to provide assistance to them, to ensure the Order was peacefully executed.

On August 18, 2022 the party peacefully executed the order with the assistance of the Police and the Bailiffs, but since there was no time limit set for the police, they remained at the company.

But other partners, who were not happy with the action of the police, petitioned the AG. The AG then wrote to the IGP to withdraw his men from the company.

AG’s letter to IGP

The AG’s letter to the IGP, dated August 23, 2020 with reference number AGD/CDR80/22 and signed by the Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah reads;

This Office is in receipt of a letter dated 18th August, 2022 from the lawyers of BIG STONE MINING LTD (the Company) & 5 OTHERS; namely Jiangdong Song, Yi Liu, Jiang Chenye, Kudjo Mawulolo Noukafou and SimaSongyang on the above subject, requesting the urgent intervention of this Office to prevent the continuous abuse of the petitioners’ rights.

The lawyers attached to their letter a ruling dated 15h July 2022 delivered by Her Ladyship Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie, sitting at the High court, Commercial Division, Accra, in Suit No. CMIMISC/0367/2022 entitled Wan Shanghong, Yang Liu vrs Big Stone Mining Ltd & 6 Others.

On the basis of this ruling, it is alleged that some police officers assigned by the Western Regional Command have been deployed to the mining site of the Company to intimidate the Petitioners under the pretext of providing protection for the execution of the ruling, pursuant to an ex parte order granted by the same court on 28th July, 2022. Please find enclosed a copy of the said rums and the ex parte order dated 28th July, 2022.

It is pertinent to indicate that a criminal complaint against some of the suit, referred to above, Republic vrs. Jiangdong Song. Yi Liu, Jiang Chenye, Kudjo Mawulolo Noukafou and SimaSongyang, had earlier been lodged at the Ministry Police Station.

In exercise of the constitutional powers of the Attorney-General in all criminal prosecutions in Ghana, this Office is already seized with the docket in the matter and studying same.

The ruling the Police Service is purportedly executing emanates from a civil suit between the parties, pending at the Commercial Division of the High court, Accra, and contained interlocutory orders effectively restraining the respondents therein from holding themselves out as Directors of the Company and other similar orders.

The Petitioners have alleged that personnel from the Police Service who have been deployed to the mining site of the Company have shut down the operations of the Company, prevented the workers of the company from working and have been intimidating them under the pretext of executing order for interlocutory injunction.

Our examination of the ex parte order dated 28th July, 2022 discloses that the order was essentially for the Police to provide the applicants and the bailiffs of court with the necessary protection to peacefully serve the order for Interlocutory injunction and execute same.

It is imperative to point out that even though the ex parte order mandated the Police to assist the bailiffs to serve and execute the order for interlocutory injunction, the execution itself ought to be one within the premises of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004 (CI).

The Police, in terms of the rules of court are not permitted to be part of the execution process for such a ruling, it is for this reason that he ordered the bailiffs of the court to serve the order and execute same.

Further, the nature of the ruling for interlocutory injunction itself does notwarrant deployment of personnel of the Police Service to enforce same.

The ruling, as is clear, essentially restrained the respondents from holding themselves out as directors and discharging certain functions.

An alleged breach of the ruling sounds in contempt of court, a relief available under the Civil Procedure Rules which the Police are not required to administer.

Certainly, the Police, in terms of both the ruling for interlocutory injunction and the ex parte order for police protection, are not permitted to harass or intimidate the Petitioners.

Similarly, the Police cannot in reliance on same, close down the running of the Company or prevent the workers from working in the Company.

Though the order mandated the Police to assist the bailiff to serve and execute the order, the execution being properly construed lies within the ambit of the Applicant in case there is a breach on the part of the Petitioners (Respondents in the suit) as contained in order 44 rule 5(1)(c) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2004 (CI 47).

It is our opinion that if the allegations contained in the petition are true, the actions of the Police constitute a clear infringement on the rights of the Petitioners and an unjust interference in the administration of Justice by the Police Service.

They also have the tendency to undermine the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney-General in the criminal matter he is seized of. This development has the potential to unnecessarily bring the Police Service into disrepute.

We, therefore, advise that prompt action is taken to withdraw the Police from the mining site of the Company.

A failure, refusal or neglect to do so may lead to legal action being instituted against State with the potential consequence of financial loss to the state. It is hoped that expedited action will be taken on this matter.

We count on your usual co-operation.

 

Other partner also petitions IGP

Upon hearing this directive from the AG, Wan Shanhong, the Company Secretary and Director also wrote to the IGP explaining the development as follows;

I am addressing this letter to you as the Company Secretary and as a Director of Big Stone Mining Company Ltd.

Our company is registered under the laws of Ghana and we operate a gold bearing tailings processing plant at Bogoso, near Tarkwa, in the Western Region of Ghana.
We have obtained from one of the workers at our plant, a copy of a petition addressed to you by the Attorney-General of Ghana on the above subject-matter.

We have attached a copy of the said letter for the avoidance of doubt. We assume that this letter from the AG is authentic due to the several utterances made by the AG on these two cases; civil and criminal cases affecting the Applicants and the Big Stone Mining Company Ltd.
We would like to respond, Sir, as following;

1, We believe that the AG is seized of the criminal case we have lodged against the Respondents at the Ministries Police Station, Accra, in respect of the forgery of documents and signatures and swearing of statutory declarations on behalf of persons who were not in the country made by the Respondents to enable them take over all the shares of BigStone Mining Ltd. and the positions of the 1st and 2nd Applicants in our company, Big Stone Mining Company Ltd.

The AG “seized” the docket of the said criminal case/complaint from the Ministries Police Station since 13th June, 2022 and all our meetings with him and entreaties to him to release the docket has not yielded any result to date, three months down the line.

The only conclusion one can draw is that the AG is caving in to the demands of the Respondents and their Lawyers since this is not a serious case like murder, etc.

This confiscation of the docket of our case by or on behalf of the AG without hearing our side of the case, has emboldened the Respondents who have continued to threaten to use physical force against us.

2. We would like to correct the AG that the Commercial court, Accra, gave a final ruling dated 15th July, 2022 granting we the Applicants an Interlocutory Injunction Order to restrain the Respondents from running the Big Stone Mining company and to restore the company to its status quo ante or former position pending the final determination of the case.

This Order restrained the Respondents who had illegally altered the shareholding structure of the company, but empowered us to operate the company following the restoration of our rights that had been unlawfully violated by the Respondents for the past three (3) years.

Due to previous violent encounters and resistance by the Respondents at the site while seeking to execute the first ex-parte order, the court, this time, upon an application by us, granted an order for police assistance and protection to be able to execute this order.

A copy of the letter from the Registrar of the Commercial Court asking for the protection of the Police to enable us serve and execute the said order is hereby attached.

We, therefore, reject the restrictive interpretation being put on the final interlocutory injunction order.

3. The Attorney General, we know to be the principal officer of the State, is responsible for the prosecution of crime and ensuring that there is justice for all.

However, the AG’s actions in respect of the pending civil case which is between private persons and their private legal rights, particularly, is in respect of the 2nd and 4th Respondents’ attempts to alter the Applicants’ positions in Big Stone Mining Ltd., is of much concern to the Applicants.

We do not believe that it is the duty of the AG or his staff to misinterpret the interlocutory Order for the parties.

If the Respondents are not satisfied with the ruling, they know what to do and it is not fair or just for the AG to interfere on behalf of the Respondents when the Applicants are enforcing their rights and executing the injunction order as directed by the Court.

We the Applicants believe that the letter addressed by the AG to the IGP on this matter without hearing from our side is a wanton interference in a private dispute among private Persons over their private legal rights.

We, therefore, plead with the IGP to follow the Court’s directions and not heed to the AG’s attempt to favour the Respondents in this matter.

4. We believe that the allegations in the substantive petition are not based on the facts on the ground and we would like to explain as following;

a. No worker of Big Stone Mining Company Ltd has been harassed or asked to stop work as alleged by the Petitioners.

As a matter of fact, we held a meeting with the Municipal Labour Office Labour Department and the Workers Union of the Company, with the Regional Trade Union in attendance on Friday, the 2nd of September, 2022 and it ison record that the workers confirmed they had not been harassed or asked to stop work.

Please see attached the situational report of the said meeting.
Admittedly, some workers and some management staff left the Company and took away some of its trucks and pickups when the police and the bailiffs came to enforce the Court order, and have since not returned.

We are not preventing them from returning, provided they act lawfully and peacefully and respect the status quo of the company, which has been restored per the Court’s ruling.

b. With respect to the Order for Police protection, we state that this direction by the Court and the actions taken by the Police so far are absolutely necessary.

It is absolutely necessary during the period of stock taking and assessment of the plant which is still ongoing.

Besides, the Respondents continue to threaten us all the time. For example, a soldier in a Land Cruiser drove to the plant a week ago and asked to see the commander in charge.

He told us that if we did not leave the plant he will marshal two hundred (200) soldiers and ‘macho men’ to attack us and the plant during the night. This incident is recorded in the incident folder and can be confirmed by the commander at the plant.

c. Clearly, as the Police are not harassing any worker at the plant and are effectively keeping the peace, the only objective we can derive from the Attorney General’s petition to you, is to effectively have the police withdrawn so the Respondents can perhaps use their alleged resources consisting of armed soldiers and armed “macho men” to take over the plant in contempt of the court order.

They had formerly perpetrated the same action on us when we tried to execute the initial interim Injunction Order on them in early April, 2022.

These Respondents have no regard for the orders of the Court. They are repeating the same character since the 15th of July, 2022 when the Court gave the final order of interlocutory injunction.

They only backed down when we went to execute the order with the bailiff and the Police on the 18th of August, 2022.

d. To date we have been protected by the Police as per the Court Order and we are still in the process of executing the final order of the interlocutory injunction granted to us on the 15th of July, 2022.

We are extremely grateful to the Ghana Police and pray your services are not withdrawn until we have fully executed the Court Order.

Thank You

Yours’ Sincerely

………………….

Wan Shanhong

Company Secretary & Director

By Emmanuel Akli

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