The outrage that greeted the sudden beef between these two cement manufacturers will not cease soon as they are both taking themselves to the cleaners, especially with the outbursts of the Dangote Group. In a swift reaction on the Edo state minig site, the Bua Group responded succinctly: It is hereby reported to you as given by the group.
‘Our attention has once again been drawn to a new statement by the Management of Dangote Group, which is being syndicated to various new publications related to the ownership and operations of BUA’s mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State. This latest statement by Dangote Group stinks of desperation in its continued attempt to disregard the judicial process and scheme a viable competitor out of business as has been their legendary antecedent. We thus wish to reiterate once again that whilst we do not want to join issues with anyone on this matter as it is currently before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are however compelled to use the opportunity presented by Edwin Devakumar’s reckless statements to clarify the cycle of misinformation being proliferated. In specific response to Edwin Devakumar of Dangote Group’s claim of BUA operating on ML2541 in Okene, Kogi State, we wish to restate categorically that BUA does not have any operations whatsoever in Okene, Kogi State where the purported ML2541 is situated. Our Mining operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State for which licenses ML18912 & 18913 were issued and revalidate by the same ministry in a publication. These licenses have been owned, operated and fulfilled by BUA and its predecessors-in-title, since 1976 as it is also a notorious fact that we have exercised total control and possession over the mining area covered by the above mining leases since 1976 when we operated under the name of Bendel Cement Company Limited. We are thus wont to excuse Edwin’s claims to a lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the geography of Nigeria but he will be better served if he seeks professional opinion in critically understanding the geography of Nigeria or he should otherwise refer to documents from the boundary commission which clearly delineates boundaries within Nigeria. We therefore wish to ask: Why is Dangote, an international company, which is also listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, so averse to letting the rule of the law and judicial process take its course? The court has maintained that Status Quo be maintained (This includes BUA’s current ownership of our mines in Edo State) but the management of Dangote Group Dangote, as has been their strategy in the past to other companies in competition with them, is still seeking to out-muscle competition through backdoor means rather than let the court decide. If anyone is not satisfied, they should write to the courts as an independent arbiter for an interpretation of “maintaining status quo” rather than spread misinformation in the court of public opinion.
It is public knowledge that neither Dangote nor AICO or anyone for that matter can claim ownership of ML2541 as was stated in a court injunction by a Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja in suit FHC/LK/CS/25/2017 between Alhaji Mohammed Otaru Adeika & Ors. Versus AICO Ado Ibrahim and Company Limited, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, The Mining Cadestre Office and Dangote Industries Plc. How then can they continue to claim in obvious disregard of that court order that the ML2541 belongs to them? No one is above the law. The antecedents of Dangote Plc in trying to out-muscle competition are not in doubt. Various cases abound within and outside the cement industry – one of which was their taking over of the limestone deposits of another competing entity in the south-south region of Nigeria until they ceded him 25% of their company. This was in turn resold to them for hundreds of millions of dollars. Or is it the case of Ibeto whose business was almost driven under but for the prompt intervention of the then late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Or is it the case of Polo House Jetty Tincan previously owned by his uncle, Usman Dantata, whose License was revoked by NPA and reallocated to Dangote on the same day in order to prevent a sugar refinery to be sited there by a competitor. The facts of the matter, as far as we are concerned, are that BUA’s operations are in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and not Okene Kogi. We once again ask that all parties should wait for the court to resolve the issue. We will not be cowed or intimidated and will continue to seek redress through the proper legal channels.’’ In the wake of this development between the two groups, the Federal Government has ordered the two parties to vacate mining site in Edo State, in very unambiguous statement thus: Following the crisis raging between Dangote Group and BUA Group over the mining right in Obuh community, in Okpella, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, the Federal Government has ordered the parties involved to vacate the site to avoid break down of law and order in the area. But the community leaders who expressed worry over the development, accused the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals of causing the crisis by giving licenses to the feuding parties to mine in the same site and urged both the Federal and Edo State Governments to urgently find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, adding that further escalation of the crisis will negatively affect both revenue and employment opportunities of the community people. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, who disclosed the Federal Government’s directive at a meeting with leaders and elders of Okpella community at Government House in Benin City.