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The fight over ownership of the Obajan cement plant in Kogi state deepened on Friday as the state government and Dangote Cement Plc continued to lay claim to the facility.
The company’s management has also pledged to take legal action following the recent invasion of the factory and the murder of its employees by armed vigilantes allegedly on government orders.
There was a pandemonium on Wednesday when Kogi State government officials reportedly decided to seal off the cement plant which they claimed was state-owned.
Although the government said one person was shot during the ensuing chaos, the cement plant said 27 of its workers were shot dead by vigilantes acting on orders from the state government.
State Governor Yahaya Bello had said on Thursday that the state government would be ready to negotiate with the Dangote Group once the company was ready to admit the factory was state-owned.
Speaking when he presented documents from the report of the Specialized Technical Committee on the assessment of the legality of the alleged acquisition of Obajana Cement Company Plc by Dangote Cement Company Limited to support the State’s claim to ownership of the plant, Yahaya said the decision to seal the plant follows several petitions from members of the local community regarding marginalization by the company.
“We have received several petitions from the general public on this particular topic. Over the past five to six years, all efforts to sit down with the owners of the Dangote conglomerate have failed,” he said.
But Dangote Cement Plc, in a statement titled “Illegal Shutdown of Dangote Cement, Obajana Plant”, and signed by its group chief executive, Michel Puchercos, said the armed invaders acted on a resolution of the State House of Assembly on controversial tax claims. .
He added that the governor contradicted the claim when he said the shutdown was due to an alleged invalid acquisition of the company by Dangote Industries Limited.
“During the process of forcibly evicting workers to enforce the closure, vigilantes shot 27 of our workers and also destroyed some of the company property at the plant.
“We have taken steps to ensure the thugs are apprehended by law enforcement, and we will ensure that full legal proceedings are taken against them.
“As we reiterate that the Obajana Cement Plant is 100% owned by Dangote Cement PLC, we remain committed to transforming Africa, while creating lasting value for our people, communities, investors and our customers,” the statement read in part.
However, the state government has accused the cement company of misrepresenting the facts and pledged to recover all the dividends accrued from the profits made over the years by the Dangote Group, including accrued interest thereon. .
Information Commissioner Kinglsey Fanwo in a statement titled “Dangote misrepresents facts – government” said the state has all relevant documents to prove Dangote’s alleged acquisition of Obajana (cement plant) was void.
“We want to assure the good people of Kogi State that with God on our side, what belongs to the state will be recovered including all dividends and interest on profits from inception till date. The Dangote group is just twisting the facts to save face,” Fanwo added.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mining and Agriculture has condemned the closure of the cement plant, adding that this action does not necessarily help the controversial tax compliance issue. to be submitted to the state government.
“On the contrary, continued operation of the plant would more likely facilitate a faster resolution of the dispute,” said its managing director, Olusola Obadimu.


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