Cement manufacturer BUA has urged competitor Dangote to let the courts decide ownership dispute over Obu Mines rather than resort to falsehoods and big lies.
BUA made its stand known in the communication made available which reads.
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.
BUA views with disdain, further attempts by the Dangote Group to play to the gallery in the dispute over our 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, Dangote Group’s predecessor-in-title, claims to have received theirs in 2008). How can Dangote then claim to be in possession when even their predecessor-in-title, AICO, was issued its license 10years 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 its title to ML2541. Whilst that was pending, AICO, against all known principles of law, transferred its title to Dangote. It is also worthy of note that Dangote further applied to the courts to assert their rights to ML2541. How can a party who claims to be in possession ask the courts to assert the rights to their license?
It should also be noted that this is asides the notorious fact that our license was initially issued in 1976 to Bendel Cement Company, one of our predecessors-in-title. (See attached the 3 licenses and also, a publication from the Ministry of Mines in Thisday, revalidating our ML18912 AND ML18913 in Okpella, Edo state and royalty payments to the Federal Government in respect of ML18912 and ML18913).
With reference to Dangote claims that we applied for a lease in 2013, to our knowledge, we are 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 (see attached).
Isn’t it rather strange that Dangote who claims to have acquired Mining Lease 2541 from AICO in 2015 now seeks to interfere with BUA’s mining rights in ML 18912 and ML 18913 in Obu, Okpella in Edo State? It is also instructive to state that Dangote has on several occasions attempted to obtain injunctive reliefs from the Federal High Court, Benin, Edo State, in the course of the pending litigation, but the Court declined making such injunctive Orders because whilst Dangote claims right to Mining Lease 2541 located in Okene, Kogi State, BUA claims right to Mining Leases 18912 and 18913 located in Obu, Okpella, Edo State. Dangote has now resorted to using other means to achieve what it could not legally achieve in a court proceeding before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
As BUA has advised on various occasions, Dangote Group and anyone who faults the court’s pronouncement to preserve status quo should write to the courts for an interpretation. The court made a pronouncement and Dangote’s lawyers cannot deny knowledge of that. The onus is not on us, as they have wrongly alleged to provide an order of the court but rather they should seek an interpretation from the courts if they so wish.
To further reiterate the court’s pronouncement as to maintaining status quo, on December 5, 2017, counsel of BUA raised the issue of the encroachment by the Ministry and Dangote in its Mining areas covered by ML18912 and ML18913 at the courts. When this matter was raised, counsel to Dangote and the Minister of Mines promptly apologized and they were thereafter cautioned by the courts that once a matter is before a court, no party should take any step that will affect the subject matter of the court.
It is a known fact that BUA is in possession of the mining site at ML18912 and ML18913 in Obu Okpella, Edo state and this has accounted for several attempts made by Dangote through its counsel to obtain restraining orders against BUA. These have been declined by the courts on all occasions.
In the case of Bulus which was cited by Dangote in its publication, there was a 22 count charge out of which 21 were dismissed and Bulus discharged and acquitted on those 21 counts. It is however curious that Bulus, out of 3 accused persons, was jailed for conspiracy on the same charges which he was discharged and acquitted on 21 counts while the others were discharged. Clearly, this judgment depicts the biblical saying of the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau. We do not intend to join issues further on this point because this issue is now a subject of litigation at the Court of Appeal and we are certain Justice will prevail.
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.
We intend to say no more on this because this matter is before a court of competent jurisdiction and we trust the court’s ability to effectively adjudicate this matter.