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, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has alleged.
In a statement signed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abass, and made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday, the ministry said the company had been using a combination of armed militia, soldiers and policemen to obstruct the ministry’s team from executing the stop work order issued to the company in October.
The ministry’s statement was in response to an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by the company alleging that a minister was involved in sabotaging its operations.
Abass said that the 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.
He stated, “The ministry stands by the stop work order issued to the BUA Group and signed by the Permanent Secretary dated 17th of October, 2017.
“The letter was issued after thorough investigation confirmed that the BUA Group was indeed engaging in illegal mining of marble/limestone at a mine pit located on geographical coordinates N070 21’ 47.4’ E0060 26’ 51.8’, while the run-of-mine is stockpiled at an area with geographical coordinates N070 21’ 48.4’; E0060 26’37.2’.
“Clarification provided by the Mining Cadastre Office shows that the coordinates of the mine pit and RoM stockpile area fall wholly within the area of mining Lease No 2541ML belonging to Messrs Dangote Industries Limited.”
Abass added, “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.”
“The management of BUA also resisted the enforcement of the latest stop work order issued on October 17, 2017 using a combination of armed militia, soldiers and policemen to obstruct the team from the ministry in effecting the stop work order.”
He added that the ministry would not compromise due process in its commitment to promote local and global investments in the Nigerian mining sector.
But in its reaction, the BUA Group said through its spokesperson, O’tega Ogra, “For the avoidance of doubt, BUA, as a law abiding entity, restricts its Obu Cement operations to mining areas covered by ML18912 and ML18913, and located in Obu Okpella, Etsako LG, Edo State. We do not have any mining activities, which are specifically in Okene, Kogi State as the ministry insinuated and as stated in the ML2541 lease given by the ministry to a competitor.
“The High Court sitting in Benin this morning (Tuesday) asked all parties to the suits before it, including the ministry, to maintain the status quo, which their spurious stop work order sought to overturn. We are, therefore, determined, as good corporate citizens, to follow the dictates of the court and not make further pronouncements on the issue lest we be seen to be in contempt of the court. We also advise media houses to be aware of this order of the court.”