By Etse Kassim, Abuja
All is not going well in the nation’s manufacturing sector as two major cement companies, Dangote and BUA groups, are currently at dagger-drawn over the ownership of the mining lease of limestone deposits located between the boundary of Kogi and Edo states.
While Dangote Group accused BUA of engaging in illegal mining of limestone deposited in its Mining Lease, No. 2541, located in a boundary town of Oguda/Obu in Okene Kogi State, BUA, which runs a fast growing cement factory in a neighbouring Okpella town, Edo State, has however dismissed the claim with a wave of hand.
Devakumar Edwin, Dangote’s Executive Director, who expressed concern over the ugly development at the weekend, accused BUA of instigating media war on the issue that is already pending before the Federal High Court, Benin Division.
His words: “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.
However,Abdulsamad Rabiu, Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group, accused Dangote Group of using its influence to sabotage his company.
In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Rabiu accused Dangote Group of connivance with top officials of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development of a game plan to cripple his cement business.
In the letter entitled : “A Cry for Help: Wanton Abuse of Power by a serving Minister geared towards sabotaging operations of BUA Cement,” BUA accused the Ministry of Mines and Steel of trying to divert the course of justice in a dispute between two cement companies.
“We are writing to your Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as our last recourse in view of recent clandestine actions, activities and conduct of a senior minister, the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development (herein referred to as the Minister) in collaboration with Dangote Group and their cohorts capable of undermining peace and security in Edo State and operations in and around our BUA Cement Okpella Plant.
“The actions of Dangote Group with the collusion and connivance of highly placed officials of Government especially the Minister is directed towards destroying the business of BUA cement with the ultimate goal of creating a monopoly in the cement industry in Nigeria and control the entire cement industry and market in the country,” parts of the letter read.