Mines Ministry Replies BUA Group Over Claim Of Sabotage

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By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has alleged that BUA does not have a mining lease over the contentious site No. 2541ML, therefore, its mining activities there are illegal.

The Ministry said this in reaction to a recent letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, on the alleged acts of sabotage against BUA Cement operations by Dangote Group in connivance with top officials of the ministry.

This was contained in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, signed by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Mohammed Abass titled ‘Our Position On BUA Group’s Misleading Publication.

The statement read “the attention of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been drawn to a misleading publication signed by the Executive Chairman of the BUA Group Abdulsamad Rabiu, published in several newspapers as an open letter to the President and titled: “A cry for Help: Wanton Abuse of Power By a Serving Minister Geared at Sabotaging Operations of BUA Cement.”

It said the publication which is an unwarranted campaign of calumny against the Ministry and the office of the Minister, is nothing but an attempt by the cement company to blackmail the Ministry into granting a free pass for illegal operations.

The statement further stated that “In the records of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), the BUA Group, does not have a mining lease over the contentious site No. 2541ML. Therefore, its mining activities there are illegal.”

It stated that “The Ministry stands by the Stop Work Order issued to the BUA Group and signed by the Permanent Secretary, dated 17th October 2017.

“The letter was issued after  thorough investigation confirmed that the BUA Group was indeed engaging in illegal mining of marble/limestone at a mine pit located on Geographical Coordinates N070 21’ 47.4” E0060 26’ 51.8’, while the Run-of-Mine (ROM) is stockpiled at an area with geographical coordinates N070 21’ 48.4”; E0060 26’37.2”it read

The statement further revealed that clarification provided by the Mining Cadastre Office shows that the coordinates of the Mine pit and ROM stockpile area fall wholly within the area of mining Lease No 2541ML belonging to Messrs Dangote Industries Limited.

The statement recalled that the Ministry had earlier in 2015 issued a Stop Work Order on this same disputed site but the BUA Group disregarded the order and went ahead with its illegal mining activities, under heavy cover of armed soldiers, policemen and men of the Civil Defence Corps.

“The management of BUA also resisted the enforcement of the latest Stop Work Order issued on October 17th , 2017 using a combination of armed militia, soldiers and policemen to obstruct the team from the ministry in effecting the Stop Work Order,” it said.

While BUA Group in its publication admitted the fact that a suit over the ownership of the site was pending in a court of competent jurisdiction, the Group, however continued with its illegal mining activities on the site, which in itself is subjudice to both the court and the Mining Act 2007, which guides mining activities in the country.

The statement maintained that “While the Ministry restates its commitment to promoting local and global investments in the Nigerian mining sector, it has always maintained that due process must be followed, especially in line with the provisions of the Minerals and Mining Act 2007. This, we shall not compromise.

It added that “While the Ministry does not intend to join issues with the BUA Group which has an enviable history of industrial performance, we deem it appropriate, however, to state the facts for the purpose of enlightening members of the public”

However, BUA Group, according to a statement signed by the Group Head, Corporate Communications, BUA Group, O’tega Ogra, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, BUA as a law abiding entity restricts its Obu Cement operations to mining areas covered by ML18912 and ML18913 and located in Obu Okpella, Etsako LG, Edo State.

‘‘We do not have any mining activities which is specifically in OKENE, Kogi State as the ministry insinuated and as stated in the ML2541 lease given by the ministry to a competitor. (See attached, all leases and our open letter to the President).

‘‘The High Court sitting in Benin asked all parties to the suits before it, including the ministry which is a part to the suit, to maintain the status quo which their spurious stop work order sought to overturn. We are therefore determined, as good corporate citizens, to follow the dictates of the court and not make further pronouncements on the issue lest we seen to be in contempt of the court. We also advise media houses to be aware of this order of the court.’’