Kogi State Government said it has commenced the process of recovering the cement plant in Obajana from Dangote Industries Limited.
Recall that penultimate Wednesday, the cement plant was sealed due to an “ownership tussle” between the company and the state government.
The government’s resolution is contained in a report by a specialised technical committee on the evaluation of the legality of the alleged acquisition of Obajana Cement Company by Dangote Cement.
The Secretary to Kogi State Government (SSG), Folashade Ayoade, presented the report to the public on Thursday in Lokoja, during which she alleged that the transfer of Obajana Cement Company to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void”.
The SSG 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.
She said the committee, in view of its findings, has, therefore, recommended that Kogi state should take steps to recover Obajana Cement Company from Dangote Group.
The committee, chaired by the SSG, also recommended that: “Kogi state government should take steps to recover all accrued dividends from profits made over the years, including accrued interest on same.
“Kogi state government should take steps to cancel the existing seven certificates of occupancy in the name of Dangote Cement Company.
“There is no evidence of consideration paid by Dangote Industries Limited to Kogi state government from the alleged transfer of Obajana Cement Company Plc and no dividend was paid to the state from the profits realised from the inception of Dangote Cement Company Plc to date.
“By the assignment of the three certificates of occupancy, the title in Obajana Cement Company Plc, still vests in Kogi state government as the sole owner.
“The three documents were used to obtain a loan of sixty-three billion naira only (63,000,000,000.00) to finance the construction of the cement plant in Obajana.”
On his part, Matthew Kolawole, speaker of the Kogi state house of assembly, said that the acquisition of the Obajana Cement Company by Dangote was without the resolution of the house of assembly which made the process null and void.
“It is clear that you cannot sell a state government property of any form without the resolution of the Kogi state house of assembly,” he said.
All the transfer process of the share capital to Dangote from Obajana by the previous administration was without any law backing it by the state house of assembly.”
In his remarks, Yahaya Bello, Kogi governor, said he had taken 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.
Bello said this was also coming on the heels of protests by the people of the state who felt they had been suppressed and marginalised by Dangote Group who had come to rip them off.
The governor, however, said the state was open to discussions once Dangote Group is ready to come clean.
“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,” Bello said.
“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.”
“The action appears to be taken by government and it is alleged to be an effort for some alleged claim on some alleged payment of taxes that have not been made or recovered from the company,” Ahmed said.
He added that the move is totally illegitimate, pointing out that if the State government has any issue against any member of its association or corporate citizen, the appropriate thing to do is to take the member to court.
“You cannot use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations simply to force them. This is illegal and I believe that what has happened will not happen in a normal operating environment,” the MAN boss said.
He said the association has taken up the matter with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in its bid to help address the anomaly in Kogi State.
“We have no reason not to pay taxes to the Kogi State government as and when due and I am aware that Dangote Industries is one of the highest tax-payers in Nigeria. But, if indeed for whatever reason that there is a tax for the Kogi State government on Dangote, it has measures and ways of recovery and there is no justification to threaten the closure of that industry.
“We are totally opposed to that kind of measure because there are ways to resolve this amicably in a legal manner and we hope that the relevant authorities in both the federal and state levels would intervene to ensure that this kind of action is not repeated,” he said.
He however, stated that the theme of the 50th AGM tagged “An Agenda for Nigeria’s Industrialisation for the Next Decade” is borne out of the need to take stock of the nation’s journey to industrialisation, to ascertain the pains and to highlight the performance limiters; recognise the gains and growth milestones; and to identify the learning curves and hurdles ahead.