By Prince Okafor
THE Management of BUA Group, yesterday, dismissed claims by Dangote Group it was engaging in illegal mining activities in Okene, Kogi State, declaring that the BUA had no operation in the region.
BUA’s reaction came following accusation by Dangote’s Executive Director, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, BUA was engaging in illegal mining of limestone deposited Dangote’s Mining Lease No. 2541 located in a boundary town of Oguda/Ubo in Okene, Kogi State.
Edwin had claimed that “Dangote Group validly acquired its interest and mining title in the disputed Mining Lease No. 2541 from AICO Ado Ibrahim & Company Limited 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.
However, BUA Group Head of Corporate Communication, Mr. Otega Ogra, in a statement, insisted that the company did not have any operations in Okene, Kogi State where the purported ML2541 is situated.
He said: “Our attention has once again been drawn to a new statement by the Management of Dangote Group which is being syndicated to various new publications related to the ownership and operations of BUA’s mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State. Our Mining operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State for which licenses ML18912 and 18913 were issued and revalidate by the same ministry in a publication.
“We thus wish to reiterate once again that whilst we do not want to join issues with anyone on this matter as it is currently before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are however compelled to use the opportunity presented by Edwin Devakumar’s reckless statements to clarify the cycle of misinformation being proliferated.”
“The antecedents of Dangote Plc in trying to outmuscle competition are not in doubt. Various cases abound within and outside the cement industry – one of which was their taking over of the limestone deposits of another competing entity in the south-south region of Nigeria until they ceded him 25 percent of their company. This was in turn resold to them for hundreds of millions of dollars. Or is it the case of Ibeto whose business was almost driven under but for the prompt intervention of the then late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Or is it the case of Polo House Jetty Tincan previously owned by his uncle, Usman Dantata, who’s License was revoked by NPA and reallocated to Dangote on the same day in order to prevent a sugar refinery to be sited there by a competitor.”
“We also wish to ask – Why is Dangote, an international company which is also listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, so averse to letting the rule of the law and judicial process take its course? The court has maintained that Status Quo be maintained (This includes BUA’s current ownership of our mines in Edo State) but the management of Dangote Group Dangote, as has been their strategy in the past to other companies in competition with them, is still seeking to out-muscle competition through backdoor means rather than let the court decide. If anyone is not satisfied, they should write to the courts as an independent arbiter for an interpretation of “maintaining status quo”: rather than spread misinformation in the court of public opinion,”
According to Ogra, the license had been owned, operated and fulfilled by BUA Group and its predecessors-in-title since 1976, saying, “It is also a notorious fact that we have exercised total control and possession over the mining area covered by the above mining leases since 1976 when we operated under the name of Bendel Cement Company Limited.
”We are thus wont to excuse Edwin’s claims to a lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the geography of Nigeria but he will be better served if he seeks professional opinion in critically understanding the geography of Nigeria or he should otherwise refer to documents from the boundary commission which clearly delineates boundaries within Nigeria.”