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Buhari to mediate in Dangote,BUA mining feud

Folake Ogunleye

President Muhammadu Buhari  stepped in Wednesday to mediate a dispute between BUA Group and Dangote Group over contentious mining site (No. 2541ML).

Information gathered by Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari has brought together all sides in the feud for a meeting on Friday.

Conglomerate BUA group Tuesday accused Dangote group of trying to force it to relinquish mining rights in a limestone field as part of a bid to monopolise the cement market.

BUA’s chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu,  who participated in the commissioning of $300 million Cement Plant of Dangote  Group in Congo last week said Dangote group was undermining security around his plant in Edo state, a state with limestone, a key ingredient in cement. Dangote’s cement operation is in the 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 on Wednesday. Rabiu asked the president Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.

Rabiu called on Buhari to investigate. He said the company was under pressure to relinquish its mining area to Dangote.

Industry source said that the allegation made by BUA supposed to have been discussed and resolved amicably during the friendship trip to the commissioning of $300 million cement plant in Congo. “ Even though business is business, the move by President Buhari to resolve the disagreement is a good decision so as to eliminate hostility against Dangote Group in its continental expansion project,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry of mines in a statement Wednesday 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.”

However, Group Head, Corporate Communications, BUA Group O’tega Ogra in response to the allegation of the Ministry of Mines and Steel said : “ “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 is specifically in OKENE, Kogi State as the ministry insinuated and as stated in the ML2541 lease given by the ministry to a competitor.

He pointed out that the  High Court sitting in Benin asked all parties to the suits before it, including the ministry which is a part to the suit, 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 seen to be in contempt of the court. We also advise media houses to be aware of this order of the court,” he said.

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