27 June 2006

Ghana: In the Matter of Gatex Vs Forestry Commission

Eleven persons including the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, and the Forestry Commission (FC) yesterday opened their defence in the on-going contempt suit filed by the Ghana Association of Forest Plantation Wood Millers and Exporters (GATEX).

Eight of the defendants who opened their defence told the court presided over by Justice P.K. Gyaesayor that they were not aware of the pending suit of interlocutory injunction until few days after the competitive bidding held on April 21 this year when they were served with court notice citing them for contempt.

Seven out of the eight defendants admitted taking part in the competitive bidding and confirmed that they saw the Chief Executive of Officer of FC, Mr. John Otoo, but he did not say anything about the suit.

One of the defendants, Mr. Edward Ameyaw who was present before the bidding said the bidding began at 9 am and ended between 2 and 3 pm.

When Counsel for GATEX, Mr. Adjei Lartey asked how Mr. Ameyaw felt when served with the suit, he continued that he felt embarrassed when he was served with the suit because he never dreamt of being in court.

On his part, Mr. Augustine Arthur who took his turn said he had been with the forestry for the past 16 years and that the applicant, the Vice President of GATEX, Mr. Richard Asante Bediako wanted four compartments areas in the competitive bidding and had threatened that he would do everything to ensure that the bidding would not be successful.

He said three of the areas which the applicant was seeking came on the bidding of the Forestry Commission in which an amount of ¢14 billion was realized but applicant wanted the compartments for only ¢60million.

The matter of contention is that GATEX filed a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction restraining the 12 defendants from conducting competitive bidding for Plantation Timber scheduled for Friday April 21, 2006.

The contempt filed against them was in respect of a competitive bidding that was held by the Forestry Commission (FC) in the face of a notice for interlocutory injunction on the bidding they had filed in court against the latter.

The defendants include, Prof Dominc Fobi, Minister of Lands, and Forestry and Mines the acting Chairman of FC, Mr. Peter Boateng, the acting Executive Director of FC, Mr. M. Owusu Abebrese, and Head Trec FC, Mr. R. K. Banfo.

The rest are the Solicitor of FC, Mr. Amo, the Consultant, Mr. Birikorang, Director of Finance and Administration, Mr. Biney, Speaker, Forestry Services Division, Mr. Dei Amoah, Mr. Arthur and Mr. Ameyaw

The court adjourned the matter to July 6 2006 for the Minister and the CEO Mr. John Otoo.

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