MAN condemns invasion as Kogi moves to recover Dangote Cement plant

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• Says move will discourage new investments, potential investors

Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has condemned Wednesday’s invasion of Dangote Cement Plant by the Kogi State Vigilante Service (KSV), saying the action will discourage new investments in the state.

MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, at a press conference to herald the association’s 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled to hold October 17 to 19, said the invasion is of great concern.

He said it is unimaginable that a state government would take such drastic action to shut down a plant that provides job opportunities and economic activities on a huge scale for the people of Kogi State.

He said the move is totally illegitimate, pointing out that if the state government has any issue against any member of MAN or corporate citizen, the appropriate thing to do is take the member to court.

“You cannot use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations. 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 a bid to address the anomaly.

He added: “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.”

MEANWHILE, Kogi State government, yesterday, presented to the public, the report of the Specialised Technical Committee on Evaluation of the Legality of Alleged Acquisition of Obajana Cement Company Plc by Dangote Cement Company Limited.

The detailed report, submitted to Governor Yahaya Bello, last month, was presented to the public by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. (Mrs) Folashade Ayoade.

She revealed that the purported transfer of Obajana to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void.”

Ayoade disclosed in the report that three Certificates of Occupancy for Obajana Cement Company Plc, which were solely owned by the Kogi State government at the time, were used to obtain a loan of N63 billion by Dangote.

According to her, 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: “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.”

The SSG said: “Agreement between Kogi State government and Dangote Industries Limited, dated July 30, 2002, and supplemental agreement, dated February 12, 2003, as contained in Exhibit 71 of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry Report, purporting the transfer of Obajana Cement Company Plc to Dangote Industries Limited, are all invalid, null and void.

“There is no evidence of consideration paid by Dangote Industries Limited to the 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.”

In his remarks, Bello 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 the Dangote Group.

The governor, however, said the state is open to discussions once Dangote Company Plc is ready to come clean.

He said: “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.

“We set up a committee to look into this and invited 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.”

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