It is no longer news that there is an ongoing dispute between the Dangote group PLC, and the BUA International Limited Abdulsamad Rabiu over contentious mining site (No. 2541ML) said to be in the boundary town of Oguda/Ubo in Okene, Kogi State.
It all started when BUA group accused Dangote group of trying to force it to relinquish mining rights in a limestone field as part of a bid to monopolize the cement market.
BUA’s chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, said Dangote group was undermining security around his plant in Edo state, a state with limestone, a key ingredient in cement manufacturing. Dangote’s cement operation is in the North central state of Kogi.
“Our cement business has of late come under intense, consistent attacks as the minister Kayode Fayemi, Dangote group and their cohorts have sought to employ instruments of state to forcefully wrest control of our mining areas,” BUA said in a letter to President Buhari, asking the president to intervene and investigate the matter.
He said the company was under pressure to relinquish its mining area to Dangote.
Meanwhile, the ministry of mines in a statement alleged that the management of BUA Group has been using armed militia, soldiers and policemen to mine marble and limestone in mining sites allocated to the Dangote Group.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abass, in the records of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, the BUA Group did not have a mining lease over the contentious site (No. 2541ML) and was therefore engaged in illegal mining.
“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 Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.”
While this was going on the Executive Director, Dangote Group, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, said in a statement, “The 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 insisted that its mining sites were in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and not Kogi State.
BUA in specific response to Devakumar Edwin of Dangote Group’s claim of BUA operating on ML2541 in Okene, Kogi State,said “ we wish to restate that BUA does not have any operations whatsoever in Okene, Kogi State where the purported ML2541 is situated. Our mining operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State for which licences ML18912 and 18913 were issued and revalidated by the same ministry in a publication”
“These licences have been owned, operated and fulfilled by BUA and its predecessors-in-title since 1976 as 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.”
After much arguments and exchange of words over the disputed mining site, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki finally revealed that the federal government’s directive during a meeting with leaders and elders of Okpella community at the Government House, Benin City, noted that parties involved in the crisis were in court, and therefore the federal government had decided that further mining in Obuh community be suspended to allow a peaceful resolution of the dispute in court.
According to Obaseki, “We are following the rule of law, there is a dispute, it is not unusual to have disputes over assets, but there are laid down methods to resolving disputes of this nature.
“What we understand as a government is that there is dispute or claim between the two parties over an existing mining right and the Mining Act of 2007 is quite clear, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development decides on how to award or issue leases.
“In this case, there are multiple claims and they have all gone to court. We have a letter from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development instructing that the party currently mining that particular site should vacate it, pending the outcome of the decision in court.
“So the position of the Edo State government today is that court orders must be obeyed, the federal government´s instruction should be obeyed, that the mine should be shut until the outcome or the determination of the case in court.”
While shutting down the mining sites might be a relief or alternative option right now to ease the tension and confusion caused by the whole saga on rightful ownership fights over, it is necessary to confirm the exact location of the sites. We have seen the argument by Dangote claiming that its mine ML2541 site is in Okene, Kogi State while BUA on the other hand is insisting that its mining sites ML18912 and 18913 and operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State. The National Boundary could easily resolve this boundary dispute.
Meanwhile it is necessary to point out the socio-economic as well as political implication of the tussles between the two powerful cement manufacturers and industrialists in Nigeria. Apart from creating anxiety and tension among the communities across the two states that could create communal clashes, the economic impact of inactivity and job loss that drastically affect the national revenue cannot be overemphasized.
Delay in resolving this issue will continue to have negative effects on economy. It is therefore pertinent to call for appropriate interventions at resolving the crisis as soon as possible.
From Gidado Idris Road Wuye District Abuja,Can be reached on [email protected]