Management of Dangote Group, over the weekend accused BUA of engaging in illegal mining of limestone deposited in its Mining Lease, No. 2541, located in a boundary town of Oguda/Ubo in Okene Kogi State. In response BUA accused Dangote of fighting competitors with intimidation and says it does no mining activity in Kogi but in Edo State. Both parties are in court but resorted to media war. Meanwhile the FG has asked both parties to stay off the contentious mining site.
Lets just see the statements from both parties.
DANGOTE GROUP – BUA MINING ILLEGALLY IN DANGOTE MINING LEASE
Dangote’s Executive Director, Mr. Devakumar Edwin frowned at the media war, instigated by BUA against the Dangote Group, over a matter which is already pending before the Federal High Court, Benin Division.
Edwin revealed that: “Dangote Group validly acquired its interest and mining title in the disputed Mining Lease No. 2541 from AICO Ado Ibrahim & Company Ltd sometime in 2014. AICO itself had applied to the Mining Cadastre Office and Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for the said Mining Lease No. 2541 located in a boundary town of Oguda/Ubo in Okene Kogi State in 2007. The Ministry in exercise of its power under the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 granted and issued to AICO ML. No. 2541 for the renewable period of 25 years effective from 1st February 2008 and to expire on 31 January, 2033. Thus AICO by virtue of the said grant, became vested with the legal title over ML. No. 2541. In 2014, the Dangote Group approached AICO and indicated interest in acquiring AICO’s stake in ML No. 2541. In 2014, AICO in exercise of its right under the Mining Act, applied to the Ministry for the transfer of its title in the ML No. 2541 to Dangote Group. AICO and Dangote Group equally paid all the transfer and statutory fees demanded by the Ministry.”
” By a letter dated 05 February 2016, the Ministry wrote to the Managing Director of the Dangote Group to convey the approval of the Ministry for the Transfer/Assignment of ML No. 2541 from AICO to Dangote Group with effect from 03 February 2016. Following the successful transfer of ML. NO. 2541 to Dangote Group, the Group became the holder of the Mining Lease No. 2541.”
He said even BUA in its process in Court acknowledged that these illegal mining leases which it claimed were granted in 1997 were temporary mining leases.
Edwin also recalled that the then Minister for Solid Minerals under Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, Dr On Obasanjo’s regime, Dr Oby Ezekwesili sometime in 2006 waded into the dispute and invited the managements of Edo Cement Company Limited and AICO Ado Ibrahim & Company Limited for a meeting and that in the course of the meeting the then Minister again queried the legality of Mining Lease Nos 18912 and 18913 and the power of the Governor of Edo State to grant such mining leases.
“At the end of the Meeting, the Minister declared the Edo Cement’s Mining Leases Nos. 18912 and 18913 illegal and declared the mining site open for interested investors. Given that AICO’s then existing Mining Lease No. 17825 was yet to be renewed even though application for renewal was pending, AICO in 2007 (under the Mining Act, 2007) applied for the fresh Mining Lease No. 2541 and the Ministry granted it in 2008 without any objection from Edo Cement Company” Edwin said AICO, who sold the right to Dangote, continued its mining operations in the Mining Lease No. 2541 undisturbed until BUA Group acquired Edo Cement Company Limited and resuscitated the dispute again.
“The Ministry after investigation in the same 2015 by the letter dated 21 January 2015 wrote to the Chairman of BUA Group directing BUA to stop mining within the ML. No. 2541. It was this same letter from the Ministry that prompted BUA to file a Suit at the Federal High Court Benin in 2016.”
“It is therefore appalling that BUA Group in the midst of these overwhelming facts will still want the public to believe that Dangote Group is after its business when in actual fact BUA has been the one mining illegally in Dangote Mining Lease and attacking its officials without any justification… The crocodile tears being shed by BUA in its cry for help and open letter to the President is most laughable and a total distraction from BUA’s continuous illegal activities within Dangote’s ML 2541 aimed at depleting and exhausting the limestone reserves in order to sabotage Dangote Group’s legitimate investment.”
BUA GROUP – WE HAVE NO MINING ACTIVITY IN OKENE, DANGOTE SHOULD WAIT FOR COURT JUDGEMENT NOT MEDIA WAR
BUA Group Head of Corporate Communication, Mr. Otega Ogra, in a statement, insisted that the company did not have any operations in Okene, Kogi State where the purported ML2541 is situated.
He said: “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. Our Mining operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State for which licenses ML18912 and 18913 were issued and revalidate by the same ministry in a publication.
“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.”
“The antecedents of Dangote Plc in trying to outmuscle 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 percent 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, who’s 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.”
“We also 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,”
According to Ogra, the license had been owned, operated and fulfilled by BUA Group and its predecessors-in-title since 1976, saying, “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.”