Liberia: Supreme Court Justice Gbeisaye Dashes Bomi Citizens' Hope
— “You are hereby informed that the justice has declined to issue the writ prayed for by the petitioners,” Gbeisaye ruling as delivered by the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Sam Manulu reads.
Supreme Court Justice Yamie Gbeisaye has lifted the temporary halt order placed on the mining operations of Western Cluster Liberia as he denied a writ prohibition by some citizens of Bomi County who were seeking to stop the operation of the company.
Gbeisay in his ruling noted that the writ raised “mixed issues of laws” and that the complainants err considering the issues raised can be handled by a lower court.
“You are hereby informed that the justice has declined to issue the writ prayed for by the petitioners,” Gbeisay ruling as delivered by the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Sam Manulu reads.
“The issues raised in the petition are mixed issues of laws and facts that can be handled by the lower court, which has the authority to take evidence and pass on the validity or legality of the memorandum of understanding between the Government of Liberia and the Western Cluster.”
However, it is not yet clear whether the complainants would comply with Gbeisay ruling and file the case before a lower court, or an appeal against the ruling decision before the full bench of the Supreme Court, as provided by the judiciary law.
The writ, which was denied, had earlier requested Gbeisaye, who is the Supreme Court Chamber Justice, to suspend the Memorandum of Understanding MoU, which allowed Western Cluster to resume mining operation on its Bomi Hills, Bea Mountain, and Mano River mines in Western Liberia.
The MoU, which has been beset by a wave of negative reviews, saw the company's debt of US$23.5 million canceled by the administration of President George Weah for US$10 million in a move that angering some Bomi citizen who decide to sue, saying it is illegal for said document to overshadow the company’s 25-years mineral development agreement.
But Gbeisaye, after hearing arguments regarding the merit of the writ, lifted the temporary restraining which allows Western Cluster to resume working activities on its Bomi Hills, Bea mountain, and the Mano River mines in Western Liberia.
Western Cluster, which is owned by Vedanta Resources PLC, an Indian multibillion-dollar corporation, has been under pressure of late to honor the terms of its 25-year mineral development contract, which the company ignored but resumed operation through a contentious MoU signed with the government in 2022.
But this time around, Western Cluster and its parent company are assuring Liberians that they are ready to comply with and abide by all applicable laws, which control or cover its mining operations, especially the Decent Work Act so that maximum opportunity will be given to Liberians for training and employment.
Vedanta Resources is an Indian diversified mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, and the largest mining and non-ferrous metals company in India and has mining operations in Australia and Zambia and oil and gas operations in three countries.
It has mining concessions rights to the Bomi, Bea, and Mano mines situated in Western Liberia, a region that is notorious for its high poverty rate. The company is expected to mine 30 million tons of iron ore annually from its mines in Western Liberia.
Meanwhile, the suit denied by Gbeisaye was filed in line with Chapter III of the 1986 Constitution, which provides for the protection of fundamental rights of the people, with special emphasis on equality, right to life and liberty on grounds detailed about the Western Cluster’s operation, as stated in the signed MoU remain undisclosed to citizens.