The Presidency has intervened in the struggle for ownership of the sprawling Dangote Cement factory in Obajana, Kogi State.
A meeting was held yesterday, October 10, at the Office of Chief of Staff to the President in the Presidential Villa, Abuja towards a peaceful resolution of the standoff which resulted in forceful closure of the factory.
The meeting was attended by the President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa).
This intervention followed the shutting down of the Dangote Cement Factory in Obajana by the Kogi State government last week over allegations of tax evasion and unresolved ownership.
Already, the management of Dangote Group is said to have concluded plans to approach the court this week over the legality of the Kogi State’s vigilante members who reportedly stormed the Obajana cement factory, where many of the company’s staff were allegedly wounded and the facility shut.
This is just as Bello has brought out more damning evidence centred on the agreement between Dangote and Kogi State, when he was taking over the plant in 2002.
The Kogi Governor has released the duly signed and stamped agreement as evidence buttressing the firm stance of the State against Dangote Industries Limited.
According to the document, which was jointly signed on 30th September, 2002, by Kogi State former Governor, late Abubakar Audi and the then Kogi State Attorney-General for Kogi State, while Aliko Dangote for Dangote Industries.
Extracts from the duly signed and stamped agreement include but is limited to the following:
Project was at conceptual stage in 1992
Preliminary feasibility study carried out in 1992
Obajana Cement Company Plc with Certificate of Incorporation No. RC208767 dated 4th November, 1992 is solely owned by Kogi state
Prospecting Right (Numbered PR No.14 of 2001 No.0053) was issued exclusively to the company
Kogi state offered and transferred 90% of its total shareholding in the company to Dangote Industries Limited
Kogi state is at liberty to sell half of its 10% equity to indigenes of the state by public offer or private placement
Kogi state shall grant Dangote Industries Limited tax waivers and exemption from levies for a period of 7 years from the date of commencement of production
Meanwhile, Governor Bello has said that it has become imperative against the background of protests by the people of the state who felt they had been suppressed and marginalised by the Dangote Industries who reportedly camera to rip them off.
Bello said he took the bold step in line with his mandate to safeguard the lives and livelihood of the people of Kogi State, including residents, and to ensure their wellbeing.
The government’s resolution is contained in the report of the Specialised Technical Committee on the Evaluation of the Legality of the Alleged Acquisition of Obajana Cement Company by Dangote Cement Company.
“We received several petitions from the general public over this particular subject matter. In the past five to six years, all efforts to sit with the proprietors of the Dangote Conglomerate failed.
“We set up a committee to look into this and invited the Dangote company to discuss with them and tell them the imminent dangers they are exposing the people to, but it all fell on deaf ears.
“I am here to defend my people, and from all reports, it is clear that Obajana Cement Company does not belong to Dangote,” Bello declared.
Bello also accused Dangote of being evasive in spite of the interventions of some well-meaning Nigerians in the matter. However, he expressed his openness to discussions once Dangote Company Plc is ready to come clean.
Earlier, the Kogi House of Assembly had announced the sealing of the cement factory, threatening to arrest President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
The report was presented to the public by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Folashade Ayoade, earlier today in Lokoja.
Ayoade said: “Recovery of the state’s Obajana Cement Company Plc from Dangote Cement Company Limited became imperative at this point in time.”
The SSG revealed with documents that the purported transfer of Obajana to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void.”
She disclosed that in the report, three Certificates of Occupancy for Obajana Cement Company Plc, which was solely owned by the Kogi State Government at the time, were used to obtain a loan of N63 billion by Dangote.
According to her, the committee, in view of its findings, has, therefore, recommended that Kogi State should take steps to recover the Obajana Cement Company from the Dangote Group.