A private citizen, Obed Owusu-Addai, is in the process of initiating a court action against the government over the issuance of what he claimed are illegal permits granted for logging of timber.
According to him, the current mode of issuing permits to timber loggers is in flagrant breach of provisions of the 1992 Constitution and the Timber Resources Management Act, 1998 (ACT 547) as amended by Timber Resources Management Act, 2002 (ACT 617).
In a statement explaining the rationale for the intended civil action, Mr. Owusu-Addai explained that the laws in question demand that the allocation of rights to engage in commercial timber logging should be granted through the issuance of Timber Utilization Contracts (TUCs) either Large Scale or Small Scale signed on behalf of the President by the Minister responsible for Lands and Natural Resources subject to parliamentary ratification.
“This action I have instituted has become necessary because of the practice of various Ministers of Lands and Natural Resources and Chief Executives of the Forestry Commission, who issued commercial timber rights in the form of “Special Permits”, “Ministerial Letters or Permits”, “Administrative Permits” among others without adherence to the dictates of the law,” Mr. Owusu Addai noted in his statement.
Mr. Owusu Addai thus said he has written a letter to the Attorney General giving the outfit a mandatory 30 days notice of his intention so that efforts are put in place to adhere to the dictates of the law else his civil action will be initiated.
Below are the reliefs the private citizen will be seeking if he goes to court.
i. A declaration that the issuance of commercial timber rights known as “special permits” or “administrative permits” or “ministerial permits” constitute a transaction, involving the grant of a right for the exploitation of a natural resource of Ghana and is subject to ratification by Parliament in accordance with the constitution;
ii. A declaration that the interpretation given to section 20(2) of ACT 547 by the Ministers of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission that purports to allow the issuance of commercial timber rights known as “special permits” or “administrative permits” or “ministerial permits” without recourse to Parliamentary ratification is erroneous and unconstitutional;
iii. A declaration that all such “special permits” or “administrative permits” or “ministerial permits” involving the grant of a right to exploit the timber resources of Ghana granted by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources or the Forestry Commission without Parliamentary ratification are null and void, illegal and ineffective.
iv. An order restraining the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission from entering into any transaction, contract or undertaking involving the grant of a right or concession for the exploitation of commercial timber rights without Parliamentary ratification.
v. Any other orders consequential to the enforcement of the provisions in article 268(1) of the
Constitution 1992 of the Republic of Ghana.