Kogi moves to recover Obajana cement plant from Dangote

By our reporter| The Kogi state government on Thursday said it has commenced the process of recovering the cement plant in Obajana from Dangote Industries Limited.

The state government on Wednesday sealed the plant due to what it termed “ownership tussle” with the company.

The government’s position was contained in a report released on Thursday by the specialised technical committee on the evaluation of the legality of the alleged acquisition of Obajana Cement Company by Dangote Cement.

Folashade Ayoade, the secretary to the state government (SSG), who presented the report in Lokoja, alleged that the transfer of Obajana Cement Company to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void”.

According to her, the report revealed that 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.

The committee, she explained, in view of its findings, has, therefore, recommended that Kogi state should take steps to recover Obajana Cement Company from Dangote Group.

The committee also recomended that, “Kogi state government should take steps to recover all accrued dividends from profits made over the years, including accrued interest on same.

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“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.”

Also speaking, the speaker of the Kogi state house of assembly, Matthew Kolawole, posited 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,” Kolawole 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.”

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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.

According to the governor, the development comes 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.”

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