By Dennis Agbo
ABAKALIKIâ€”THE Panel set up by Ebonyi State Government to investigate the activities of collapsed Nigeria Cement Company Limited (NIGERCEM), Nkalagu, yesterday concluded receipt of memos from interest bodies.
The core investor, Eastern Bulkcem Nigeria Limited (EBNL), meanwhile, did not submit any memo or appeared before the panel.
EBNL, the core investor,Â in 2002 bought 70% equity in the Nigeriaâ€™s premier cement company from the five states of the South East, at the cost of N1.7b and commenced renovation works at the factory in 2007, after a protracted hiccup to take over the complete tittles of the factory, but Ebonyi State government,Â the host state, which was ceded 10% shares by EBNL, swooped on the factory and shut it for over one year. Eboyi State had set up the panel to work out modalities for revoking the sale.
At the close of submission of memoranda, yesterday, Chairman of the panel Justice Adrian Orah (Rtd) said it did not receive any memo from EBNL, despite its newspaper advertisements and letters to the core investor,Â inviting them to the panel, which sat at the Government House, Abakaliki.
Efforts by Vanguard to get Bulkcem to react to its failure to submit memo to the panel proved abortive,Â as the company is said to be reluctant to trade words with Ebonyi State Government.
The panel,Â however, confirmed that it received memos from the host communities of Nigercem, Ebonyi State Ministry of Lands among others.
Governor Martin Elechi,Â had three weeks ago set up a six-man panel, to workoutÂ legal means of revoking sale of the cement factory, which was sold to Bulkcem.
Governor Elechi, at the event had said â€œit is a fact finding commission and I emphasis speed and efficiency. The report will help us take next step without fault.â€
The core investor in Nigercem, EBNL has been putting up a fight against the seal up ofÂ the company by the Elechi government, arguing that â€œGovernor Elechiâ€™s moves are suspicious because we had actually started renovations in Nigercem before the state government brought militia that are now guarding the factory, stoppingÂ us from entry into a factory we bought in 20002.â€