BUA faults Dangote’s desperation to disregard judicial process as Attah family berates FG over bias

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

BUA International Limited on Monday said that the latest statement by Dangote Group stinks of desperation in its continued attempt to disregard the judicial process and scheme a viable competitor out of business as has been their legendary antecedent.

This is coming just as the ruling Atta Omadivi Family of Okene in Kogi State has described the publication of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development bequeathing the contentious Mining Lease ML 2541 to Dangote Group as a ‘reflection of desperate, reckless, irresponsible and partisan conduct of the ministry’ which has continued to flout all court injunctions related to the contentious lease.

Reacting to the statement in a press release signed by Otega Ogra, Group Head, Corporate Communications of BUA International Limited, the company noted that its attention was 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.

BUA said that thè latest statement by Dangote Group stinks of desperation in its continued attempt to disregard the judicial process and scheme a viable competitor out of business as has been their legendary antecedent.

The statement reads in parts: “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.

“In specific response to Edwin Devakumar of Dangote Group’s claim of BUA operating on ML2541 in Okene, Kogi State, 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 licenses ML18912 & 18913 were issued and revalidate by the same ministry in a publication . 

“These license 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.

“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.

“We therefore 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 BUA, it is public knowledge that neither Dangote nor AICO or anyone for that matter can claim ownership of ML2541 as was stated in a court injunction by a Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja in suit FHC/LK/CS/25/2017 between Alhaji Mohammed Otaru Adeika & Ors. Versus AICO Ado Ibrahim and Company Limited, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, The Mining Cadestre Office and Dangote Industries Plc.

“How then can they continue to claim in obvious disregard of that court order that the ML2541 belongs to them?  No one is above the law” said the statement.

BUA maintained that the antecedents of Dangote Plc in  trying to outmuscle competition is not in doubt, stressing that 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 ceeded him 25% 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, whose 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.

“The facts of the matter as far as we are concerned is that BUA’s operations are in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and not Okene Kogi. We once again ask that all parties should wait for the court to resolve the issue. We will not be cowed or intimidated and will continue to seek redress through the proper legal channels” the statement concluded.

In a related development, the ruling Atta Omadivi Family of Okene in Kogi State has described the publication of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development bequeathing the contentious Mining Lease ML 2541 to Dangote Group as a ‘reflection of desperate, reckless, irresponsible and partisan conduct of the ministry’ which has continued to flout all court injunctions related to the contentious lease.

Prince Mahmoud Atta on behalf of the Atta Family at the weekend expressed disdain over the Ministry’s hasten conclusion in their publication stating that suit FHC/LK/CS/25/2017 between Alhaji Mohammed Otaru Adeika & Ors. Versus AICO Ado Ibrahim and Company Limited, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, The Mining Cadestre Office and Dangote Industries Plc pending in Federal High Court in Lokoja will determine who owns the contentious site.

Prince Atta wonders why the Ministry has special interest in Dangote to openly and illegally bequeath them ML2541 under contention in competent Court, describing the act as tantamount to contempt of the court.

The royal family Stressed that the court had ordered that no one can claim ownership of ML2541, Atta said neither Aico nor Dangote owns ML2541 as wrongly declared by the Ministry adding that the Mining Lease remains nontransferable until the suit is determined.

“The frequency of the publication is in clear violation, disregard and suppression of a subsisting court order dated June 15, 2017 in respect to the transfer, operations and ownership of the purported Mining Lease ML 2541.

“We wish to state that the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and Dangote Industries Plc are acting in violation of a subsisting order of injunction of the Federal High Court Lokoja, Kogi State restraining them by themselves servants agents assignees transferees or other third parties from parading themselves as the holders of ML2541 pending the determination of the substantive suit.

“For the purpose of clarity, we wish to restate again that the court was explicit in its order that no one can parade themselves as the holders of ML2541 pending the determination of the suit. As such, neither AICO nor Dangote can’t lay claim to the ownership of ML2541 as the ministry said in its offending publication. Neither is the Mining Lease transferable until the determination of the suit brought against them by our family.

“It is unfortunate this action and conduct is being perpetrated in a democratic dispensation that touts the rule of law. We have continued to insist that the purported transfer of ML2541 to Dangote Industries by Messrs AICO Ibrahim is in clear contravention of Nigerian Mining Act 2007 which the Ministry claims to be upholding in its publication.

“The publications by the Ministry seek to overreach the matter before the court and consequently we have instructed our solicitors to protect not only our interests but the sanctity of the court and the judicial process, which include bit not limited to commencing contempt proceedings against the parties in violation of the orders of the court” the statement added.

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