A number of passersby spotted some strong men carrying another strong man shoulder-high out of the mining yard of Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited at Gban in the Talensi District on Tuesday, 5 September 2023.
Some thought the man had just been installed a chief inside that yard and was being carried back to his community in celebration by his well-wishers.
Others assumed it was a birthday occasion and his co-workers were taking him to a party ground around to celebrate his new age.
It was when they dropped him in front of the gate and locked him outside they realised that their perceived reason was far from a joyous occasion.
The company’s plump public relations officer, Ebenezer Bognaab, had sacked him and ordered the men to get him out of the yard after he refused to go home.
Benjamin Ndanbon was sacked because his boss, Charles Taleog Ndanbon, dragged Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited to court over a breach of agreement.
Charles had introduced the Chinese company to Talensi in 2008 as a technical-service partner to his Yenyeya Mining Enterprise. The foreign partner was known as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited at the time.
Charles fell out with the company after Shaanxi decided to go solo into a large-scale mining business in Talensi, contrary to an agreement the two parties had signed.
And subsequently, Shaanxi’s Chief Executive Officer, Wei Xing, banned Charles from entering the company’s yard.
But since the Chinese were still working on Charles’s 25-acre mining concession, where the site is located, Charles introduced Benjamin to the Chinese as his representative to the company.
Benjamin’s role, as Charles’s sole representative, is to witness the gold production process in the yard and keep the records of production he takes on behalf of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise.
Bognaab is said to have told Benjamin he was being sacked because it did not make sense to allow him in the yard while Charles was waging a legal battle against the Chinese.
For sacking his representative, Charles reacted by filing another case against the company and Wei Xing at the High Court ‘1’ in Bolgatanga, capital of the Upper East Region. Charles is seeking a court order compelling both Shaanxi and Xing to allow his representative at the site.
The small-scale miner is also asking for an order compelling the company and its Chief Executive Officer to provide his representative with the records of production.
More drama builds up
After Charles filed the case, the court’s bailiff went through some torture before he succeeded in serving the writ of summons on the company.
The company’s site is about thirty kilometres from the High Court. The largest part of the road to the site is untarred. And it is bumpy and rocky. The bailiff went there twice.
The first time he went there, he met the public relations officer. Bognaab refused to receive the writ, reportedly telling the court official that the management had instructed its staff not to receive any writ from any court.
Without saying a word, the bailiff returned to Bolgatanga with the writ.
A few days later, the bailiff went back to the company with the writ. He was told Bognaab was not around. But Bognaab reportedly was around, sitting inside one of the air-conditioned rooms in the yard.
The bailiff bowed his head in the harsh sun, holding the writ with one hand and his tiny waist with the other. As he held his head down, a molecule of sweat dropped on one of his shoes from his forehead.
He also noticed one of his tyres smoking from an uneasy cruise through a long, rocky road. He tucked his hand into his pocket for a handkerchief and dabbed his moist face dry. He shook his head in silent pity and went back to Bolgatanga with the writ.
On Wednesday, 20 September 2023, Bognaab was at the High Court ‘1’ in Bolgatanga to represent the company in the ongoing case Charles filed on Friday, 12 May 2023, on the agreement breach.
The judge, Charles Adjei Wilson, was set to deliver a ruling on an application filed by the company’s lawyers on Monday, 19 June 2023.
The company’s lawyers had argued in their application that Charles had no capacity to sue the company because his firm (Yenyeya Mining Enterprise) entered into an agreement with Shaanxi Mining Company Limited and not Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited. They also asked the court to, on that basis, reject the writ and the statement of claim brought by Charles.
But while delivering his ruling on Wednesday, the judge explained that when the company was being transformed from the old self— Shaanxi Mining Company Limited— into the new self— Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited— it also carried along all the old liabilities of its old self into its new self.
Those old liabilities, Justice Wilson concluded, also included the same old agreement now in contention between Charles and the company.
The judge described the company’s application as “an academic exercise”. Then, he threw the application out through the window and slapped the company with a cost of Gh¢5,000 (USD434). He also gave the company ten days to file its defence.
Climax of drama as evasive Shaanxi PRO served Writ of Summons on court premises
But before the judge rose from his seat, Charles’s lawyer, Ms Juliet Dale Agbo, told the court that the company’s public relations officer had been dodging service of the latest writ.
And she disclosed that the same ‘writ dodger’— Bognaab— was in the courtroom as she spoke.
In response, the judge addressed the entire court audience, saying bailiffs were required to throw writs at defendants if they refused to receive the writs from the bailiffs.
He further made it clear that once the writ had been thrown at the defendant, the defendant had been served and trial would proceed after service whether the defendant showed up in court or not.
After the court’s sitting, Bognaab stood in the lobby to the courtroom, wearing a black cap shaped like the seat of a bicycle. His reason for standing there was not clear. But he seemed to be rubbing his hand against his growing potbelly with his eyes fully opened and thinking about how he would go back and tell the company that the High Court judge had dumped its application in the incinerator.
While standing there, the same bailiff suddenly appeared again before him and stretched the writ to him.
The bailiff’s third arrival with the writ, for a badly bruised Bognaab who was already licking his bruises in a lonely corner, was much like an attempt to rub salt into a fresh wound.
And as before, Bognaab refused to take the document, his face looking sour as he stared at the bailiff as if he (Bognaab) just took a sip from a raw mixture of lemon juice and vinegar under duress.
Then, the bailiff threw the writ at him. Bognaab jumped backwards as if he was dodging ice water. He was trying to avoid any body contact with the writ. And, as he jumped backwards, he nearly hit a woman who seemed to have just lost a case.
After throwing the writ at him, the bailiff left the spot immediately and did not bother to look back.
As the bailiff was walking away in visible relief with both hands swinging free, his body language seemed to be saying: ‘You have finally been served. Whether you bend down to pick the writ or not, that is none of my warm cup of tea.’
Bognaab disowned the writ, watching it on the floor from a long distance as if there was a deadly virus on it.
But when he saw Yaro Tii-roug Zumah, one of the well-known critics of the Chinese company, taking a video of the writ and running a commentary while it was on the floor, he rushed at the writ, bent down, his own big tummy restricting him, and grabbed it. He knew what Zumah was capable of.
Then, a voice came from among those who were watching the scene in the lobby, saying: “Who say man no dey?”
Wednesday ended in a double blow for a company whose operations have left many families in grief in Talensi and has refused to talk to the media about some serious tragedies recorded in its yard in recent months.
And it now remains to be seen when the company will file a defence statement on the latest case, too.
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org