December 8, 2023

Supreme Court Suspend ruling in BAO CHICO concessions Mineral Agreement

The supreme court of Liberia has reserved and suspended the ruling in the BAO CHICO Concession Mineral Development Agreement which had currently brought the house of Representatives and the house of Senate at loggerhead pending assignment on the heated ongoing argument in the case as to the constitutional error of both houses.

Following a series of arguments between both lawyers of the house of representative and Senate on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the Chief Justice of Liberia Francis S. Korkpor said that the ruling is reserved and the matter is suspended pending assignment.

During the hearing on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the senate represented by Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Varney Sherman, and others, stated that the house of representative is in constitutional errors by ratifying the Bio Chico agreement after they had said that the Senate was in error and refused to solve the problem through the conference.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor also expressed dismissal and regret when he asked the Marshall if the Ministry of justice was represented and present in court after being served with notice of assignment for the hearing of the case.

According to justice Korkpor, they serve the Ministry of justice with a notice of assignment but regret and astonishment due to the Justice Minister’s failure to appear in court after being served the notice of assignment to appear in court for the hearing.

The majority members of the Liberian Senate voted to ratify the BAO Chico iron Ore Concession agreement for Gbapolu County. The Concession is a 25-year agreement and is expected to earn Liberia millions of U.S. Dollars over the years.

The Mineral Development Agreement between the Government of Liberia and BAO CHICO Resources Liberia Ltd is for the extraction of iron ore, to be operated under a Class A Mining License for an initial term of 25 years from the effective date.

BAO CHICO Resources Liberia Ltd. is a corporation duly registered under the laws of Liberia, TIN Number 500118730 for mineral exploration and mining in Liberia and on the 12th of August 2008, the company was granted an Exploration License MEL 12005 in accordance with Section 1.2 of the Exploration Regulations for the exploration of Mineral Products within the area specified on the license which covered a total area of 87.4km within Gbarpolu County.

The company’s license, which was renewed on the 15th of August 2013, is expected to provide direct benefits in the form of employment and revenue generation.

However, the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives had seemed to be at loggerheads over the Lower House’s decision to pass its version of the Mineral Development Agreement with BAO CHICO Mineral, ignoring similar agreement sent to the upper house. The decision by the House of Representatives has prompted the Senate to file a petition to the Supreme Court of Liberia, seeking the constitutionality of notification of the BAO CHICO Mineral Development Agreement by the Liberian Senate prior to ratification by the House of Representatives.

The petition which invites the House of Representatives as the first respondent also drags Justice Minister Musa Dean as the Second respondent to a conference with Chief Justice Francis Korkpor on  Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

“By directive of his Honor Francis A. Korkpor, Sr., Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, you are hereby cited to a conference with His Honor in the Conference Room of the Chief Justice on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, at the hour of 11:am in connection with the above-captioned case,” the petition said.

It can be recalled, the House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to approve its own version of the BAO CHICO Mineral Development Agreement it signed with the Government of Liberia for the extraction of iron ore in Gbarpolu County. The same agreement had earlier been passed by the Liberian Senate and sent to the lower house for concurrence last November, but the House rejected to act on grounds that the Senate was in violation of Article 34d(i) of the Constitution of Liberia in approving the US$500 million agreement.

Article 34d(i) states that “All revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

No other financial charge shall be established, fixed, laid, or levied on any individual, community, or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community, or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality.”

During the debate, the majority of the lawmakers argued that, with this constitutional provision, the bill should have originated from the House.

Reported by:  Taisiah K.Merfee


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