There seems to be no end in sight in the crisis between the managements of Dangote Group and BUA Group over the mining rights in Edo State. The management of Dangote Industries Limited has, again, vehemently accused BUA Group of making untrue assertions against it. Dangote said that BUA was being dubious in claiming to be the rightful owner of Mining Lease No 2541.
The two companies, who had, on Wednesday, agreed to wait for a judicial outcome rather than resorting to self-help and/or using influence and agencies of government in disrupting operations at disputed mining areas in Edo State, yesterday, resumed the media war and continued to throw tirades at each other.
While Dangote, in a statement made available to New Telegraph revealed that its reaction became very necessary as a result of its status as a publicly quoted company and to further re-assure its shareholders, the regulators and members of the public that the company was and remained a responsible corporate citizen, BUA said it was worried by Dangote Group’s penchant for seeking to further its the cycle of misinformation over the dispute through falsehoods and bigger lies. Dangote is owned by Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote while BUA is owned by billionaire, Alhaji Abdusamad Rabiu.
The Federal Government had, on Tuesday, ordered the shutdown of the mining site over the crisis. Faulting BUA’s claim that the Dangote Group was trying to monopolize the cement business in the country, Dangote said that BUA has willfully, deliberately and mischievously concealed the fact that it has at least 12 Mining/ Quarry Leases within and around the area in question as opposed to this sole Mining Lease No 2541 owned by the Dangote Group. Dangote said: “First and foremost, there is no Status Quo Order made by any court that allows BUA to continue mining over the disputed mining lease area.
In fact, there is no status quo order at all. It is critical for us to point out that there is currently pending, a Motion for Interlocutory Injunction dated 27 April 2016, seeking to restrain the BUA Group from continuing with its illegal mining activities on the Mining Lease Area.
But in spite of having been served with this application and contrary to all tenets of the law which forbid a party served with an Interlocutory Injunction Motion from taking any step in respect of the subject matter of the suit, the BUA Group has, in utter disdain to the court, continued with its illegal mining activities.” Dangote said BUA applied for a Mining Lease over the same area in 2013, but the application was rejected by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel on the sole ground that it overlaps ML. 2541, which, at the time, belonged to AICO. “If BUA had title that dates back to 1998, is there any conceivable reason why it will apply for the same title over the same area in 2013?” the statement queried.
Dangote added: “It is misleading for BUA to falsely accuse Dangote of undermining its operations and attempting to create a monopoly in the cement industry in Nigeria, as we have always coexisted peacefully with other competitors in Obajana and Ibese.”
The claim by BUA that it has always been in possession of the disputed mining lease was also faulted by Dangote Group, as it affirmed that the Group “…has been the one in possession of the Mining Lease since 2016 and this was recently confirmed by the Kogi State High Court’s judgement delivered on 27 October 2017 in Charge No. HCL/65C/2017: State v. Joshua Oghene, Hon. Haruna Afegbua and Bulus Golit which sentenced the Chief Security Officer of BUA Group, Mr. Bulus Golit to one year imprisonment without any option of fine, for attacking Dangote Group’s officials and workers in the Mining Lease No. 2541.
“The imprisonment of BUA’s Chief Security Officer, amongst other things, has confirmed that the claim by the BUA Group that it has been in possession is totally fallacious.” But in a reaction, BUA noted that it viewed attempts by the Dangote Group to play to the gallery in the dispute over the Mining Areas covered by Mining Leases ML18912 and ML18913. In a statement released by its management, the company said that it has never laid claim to ML2541 “as our operations covered by ML18912 and ML18913 are in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and not Okene, Kogi State, where Dangote’s license 2541 is sited.”
“As Dangote has asserted, BUA’s licenses for ML18912 and 18913 were issued in 1997 and their ML2541 issued in 2016 (AICO, his predecessorin- title, claims to have received his in 2008). How can they then claim to be in possession when even their predecessor-in-title, AICO, was issued his license 10 years after BUA’s licences were issued and two years after the completion and commencement of production at our over $1 billion Obu Cement Factory? “In any event, AICO had instituted a suit at the Federal High Court, Lokoja claiming to assert his title to ML2541. Whilst that was pending, AICO, against all known principles of law, transferred his title to Dangote.
It is also worthy of note that Dangote further applied to the courts to assert his rights to ML2541. How can a party who claims to be in possession ask the courts to assert his rights to his licence? “It should also be noted that this is asides the notorious fact that our licence was initially issued in 1976 to Bendel Cement Company, one of our predecessors- in-title. “With reference to Dangote’s claims that we applied for a lease in 2013, to our knowledge, we are not aware of any application of this sort. In any event, it is common knowledge that participants in the mining industry continuously apply for mining rights on a regular basis and if/when we were made aware of such, we discontinued such a process.
“To further buttress our point, the Nigerian Boundary Commission’s report of 2006 clearly states that Obu, Okpella is in Edo State and not Kogi State. Even as recent as July 2017, the ministry confirmed, through a letter to BUA, our right to possession of licences ML18912 and ML18913 up till 2017.
“Isn’t it rather strange that Dangote who claims to have acquired Mining Lease 2541 from AICO in 2015, now seeks to interfere with BUA’s mining rights in ML 18912 and ML 18913 in Obu, Okpella in Edo State? It is also instructive to state that Dangote has, on several occasions, attempted to obtain injunctive reliefs from the Federal High Court, Benin, Edo State, in the course of the pending litigation, but the court declined making such injunctive Orders because whilst Dangote claims right to Mining Lease 2541 located in Okene, Kogi State, BUA claims right to Mining Leases 18912 and 18913 located in Obu, Okpella, Edo State. “Dangote has now resorted to using other means to achieve what it could not legally achieve in a court proceeding before a court of competent jurisdiction.”