The raging crisis over ownership of Obuh mines between cement manufacturers BUA and Dangote is far from over.
BUA in fresh revelations claims it is in possession of pieces of evidence detailing calculated attempts by Dangote to sabotage its operations.
The statement which detailed the revelations read;
We are increasingly appalled by a new set of publications, actions and tactics by Dangote Plc and its staff which have been falsely attributed to the Federal Government, seeking to achieve what they couldn’t get through legal means or their “connections in Government”. These relate to the ongoing mining dispute between BUA and Dangote.
We, therefore, wish to draw the attention of the general public, investing public and other stakeholders to these new set of malicious and misleading information which are in fact, being cooked up in the offices of Dangote Plc. These publications have, at various times, been falsely attributed to pronouncements made by the Federal Government represented by the Ministry of Mines. BUA is now in possession of emails (see attached, examples) amongst other documents detailing a calculated attempt by Dangote Group to discredit and undermine BUA’s operations whilst painting a false picture to their stakeholders and the general public. See examples below and attached.
In addition, whilst the Dangote Group in their diatribe published in Thisday Newspapers of Friday, December 22, 2017 made various assertions to being the victim of an alleged media campaign against them, these evidences (some of which we deem too offensive to share in public domain) proves otherwise that they have in fact been the primary aggressor.
The facts of the issue remain;
- BUA remains in possession of the mining areas covered by its mining leases 18912 and 18913 in Obu, Okpella, Edo State and despite Dangote’s concerted campaign at misinforming the public, BUA continues to exercise its rights to operate the licenses in line with the court’s pronouncements that status quo be preserved.
- Despite Dangote’s insistence that there is no court pronouncement that status quo be preserved, transcripts by their lawyers from the latest court deliberation at the Federal High Court sitting in Benin on December 5, 2017, show that the courts not only insisted that Status Quo be maintained but also sternly warned the Minister and the Ministry of Mines from taking any actions that will undermine its pronouncements on maintaining status quo. Their lawyer’s transcripts are reproduced in part below:
On our part, we agreed with the Plaintiffs’ (i.e. BUA) lead Counsel on the need for parties not to interfere with the subject matter of the pending Suit and went further to urge the Court to extend its disciplinary power to the Plaintiffs who have been mining illegally on the mining lease despite the pendency of this Suit and the sister Suit. We equally corrected the erroneous impression created by the Plaintiffs’ Counsel that the 4th to the 6th Defendants are the ones instigating the 1st Defendant.
The Court expressed its dissatisfaction over the conduct of the 1st Defendant(Hon. Minister, Ministry of Mines) in meddling with the subject matter of the Suit and threatened to commit the 1st Defendant’s official who wrote the Stop Work Order letter to prison if the 1st Defendant does not desist from further interference with the Plaintiffs’(BUA) mining right. On our application that the status quo Order sought by the Plaintiffs should apply to all the parties including the Plaintiffs themselves, the Judge was of the view that we had on the last adjourned date conceded to accelerated Hearing of Suit and to allow the Plaintiffs to continue to mine and that we cannot be heard asking for status quo Order. As it relates to the mandatory injunction Motion, the Court was of the view that it should be left pending and that if by the next adjourned date the 1st Defendant did not stop interfering with the Plaintiffs’ mining right, the Court would be minded to invoke its disciplinary power to stop the 1st Defendant.
(See attached, the full transcripts)
This expose above, from the transcripts of their lawyers, not only puts to bed Dangote’s insistence that there is no pronouncement by the courts on maintaining Status Quo but also goes to show the extent to which Dangote Group, their staff and apologists will go to engage in unethical media propaganda against BUA who is simply following the dictates of the courts.
We are also in receipt of evidence to show that Dangote Group directly and indirectly, caused to be written, published, solicited and sometimes paid for, the unlawful statement by Ministry of Mines ridiculing the ongoing court process whilst openly taking sides in a dispute to which they are a party in a suit.
We therefore wish to call upon the relevant agencies including but not limited to The Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Securities & Exchange Commission, EFCC, and the Nigerian Police amongst others to investigate thoroughly these actions, which have crossed the boundaries of anti-trust and are very anti-competitive in nature. We also wish to ask media houses, online platforms and others to kindly verify the source of information being peddled to them in respect of this matter to avoid running afoul of the law.
BUA is under no illusions that these attacks (directly or otherwise) will stop nor are we able to comprehend why it is difficult for a “good corporate citizen” as they claim to be, to respect the rule of law and wait for the judicial process to take its rightful course. BUA however wishes to state unequivocally that no amount of intimidation, bully tactics or using ‘agents in government’ to usurp the powers of the courts will make us succumb to intimidation.
BUA insists on respect for the judicial process and would expect Dangote Group, as a publicly listed company and their cohorts to do same. Only through this can we show the outside world, investing public and other stakeholders that indeed, Nigeria is ready for business and competition can thrive in a free, fair and equitable environment devoid of fear, impunity, unfair competitive advantage or bias.