By OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos
The management of Dangote Industries Limited has again vehemently rejected the many assertions of BUA Group, on its claim to being the rightful owner of Mining Lease No 2541.
Dangote in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, yesterday, 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 is and remains a responsible corporate citizen
But in a swift reaction, BUA International Limited, asked Dangote Group to await the outcome of the judicial process on the matter.
The two cement companies had been embroiled in war of some sort over the ownership of a mining site, which is already a subject of litigation.
According to Dangote Group, BUA’s claim that it was trying to monopolise the Cement business in the country, wilfully, 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 the sole Mining Lease No 2541 owned by the Dangote Group.
Dangote further stated that, “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 also explained that BUA applied for a Mining Lease over the same area in 2013 but the Application was rejected by the Ministry on the sole ground that it overlaps ML. 2541 which at the time belonged to AICO.
“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 statement read.
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 Judgment 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 Chief Security Officer amongst other things has confirmed that the claim by the BUA Group that it has been in possession is totally fallacious.”
However, reacting to claims by Dangote Group, BUA International Limited, in a press statement sent to LEADERSHIP which was signed by the Group Head, Corporate Communications,BUA International, O’tega Ogra yesterday said, ‘‘Our attention has been drawn again to a new publication by Dangote Group seeking to further its cycle of misinformation over the mining dispute between BUA and Dangote through falsehoods and bigger lies.’’
It states that BUA thus views with disdain, further attempts by the Dangote Group to play to the gallery in the dispute over its Mining Areas covered by Mining Leases ML18912 and ML18913.
‘‘BUA wishes to restate without equivocation 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 & 18913 were issued in 1997 and their ML2541 issued in 2016 (AICO, his predecessor-in-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 licenses was issued and two years after the completion and commencement of production at our over $1billion 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 license?’’
BUA in the statement also said aside the fact that its license was initially issued in 1976 to Bendel Cement Company, one of its predecessors-in-title. It also states that with reference to Dangote’s claims that BUA applied for a lease in 2013, the company is 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 licenses ML18912 and ML18913 up till 2017.
‘‘In any case, we wish to reassert that this issue will not be resolved on the pages of newspapers or through a barrage of misinformation but rather, through the courts. Whilst we are now aware that Dangote Group will stop at nothing to keep pushing these false narratives as well as keep distracting from the core issue at hand, we once again enjoin Dangote Group and their cohorts to await respectfully, the outcome of the judicial process,’’ the statement read in part.
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