The war of words between the Dangote Group and BUA Group over the Mining Lease No. 2541, located in a boundary town of Oguda/ Ubo in Okene, Kogi State lingered on Sunday. While the management of Dangote Group accused BUA of engaging in stealing and illegal mining on its property, the BUA management denied the allegation, accusing Dangoteof plotting to “out-muscle BUA out of business”.
Dangote explained that his company had validly acquired interest and mining title in the disputed Mining Lease from AICO Ado Ibrahim & Company Ltd. sometimes in 2014. But BUA dismissed the claim and accused the Dangote Group of attempting to disregard the judicial process and scheming a viable competitor out of business.
At a press conference held at its corporate headquarters in Lagos, Dangote Group’s Executive Director, Mr. Devakumar Edwin frowned at the media war instigated by BUA, over a matter the company said is already pending before a Federal High Court, Benin Division.
His words, “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.
“The ministry, in exercise of its power under the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, granted and issued to AICO Mining Lease No. 2541 for the renewable period of 25 years effective from 1st of February, 2008 and to expire on 31st of January, 2033. Thus AICO by virtue of the said grant, became vested with the legal title over Mining Lease No. 2541. In 2014, the Dangote Group approached AICO and indicated interest in acquiring AICO’s stake in the lease.
“In 2014, AICO in exercise of its right under the mining Act, applied to the ministry for the transfer of its title in the ML No. 2541 to the Dangote Group. AICO and Dangote Group equally paid all the transfer and statutory fees demanded by the ministry.
“By a letter dated February 5, 2016, the ministry wrote to the Managing Director of the Dangote Group to convey the approval of the ministry for the transfer/assignment of ML No. 2541 from AICO to Dangote Group with effect from February 3, 2016. Following the successful transfer of Mining Lease No. 2541 to the Dangote Group, the Group became the holder of the Mining Lease No. 2541.”
In its reaction, the BUA management through the Group Head, Corporate Communications, Otega Ogra, denied all allegations levelled against it by Dangote Group, stating that its operations are in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and not Okene Kogi.
BUA said: “This 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.
“We 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 licenses 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 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.”