The management of Dangote Cement Plc has vowed to take legal action over the recent invasion of the Obajana cement plant in Kogi and the shooting of its employees by armed vigilantes allegedly on the orders of the government.
The crisis over the ownership of the Obajana cement plant in Kogi worsened during the week when some officials of the state government reportedly moved to seal the cement plant which it claimed belonged to the state.
The Press Nigeria gathered that the Kogi state government said one person was shot during the clash, but the cement company claimed that 27 of its workers were shot by vigilantes acting on the orders of the state government.
Governor Yahaya Bello had on Thursday said the state government would be ready to negotiate with Dangote Group once the firm was ready to admit that the plant belonged to the state.
Yahaya, who presented documents from the report of the Specialised Technical Committee on the Evaluation of the Legality of the Alleged Acquisition of Obajana Cement Company Plc by Dangote Cement Company Limited to back the state’s claim to the ownership of the plant, said the decision to seal the plant followed several petitions by members of the local community over marginalisation by the company.
“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,” he said.
However, Dangote Cement Plc, noted that the armed invaders acted on a resolution of the State House of Assembly on controversial tax claims, which it added that the governor had contradicted when he said the shutdown was due to an alleged invalid acquisition of the company by Dangote Industries Limited.
The firm in a statement titled, ‘Illegal Shutdown of Dangote Cement, Obajana Plant,’ and signed by its Group Managing Director, Michel Puchercos, said the Obajana Cement plant is 100% owned by Dangote Cement PLC, and “we remain resolute in transforming Africa while creating sustainable value for our people, communities, investors, and customers.”
“In the process of forcefully evicting the workers to enforce the shutdown, the vigilantes shot at 27 of our workers and also destroyed some of the company’s property at the plant. We have taken steps to get the hoodlums apprehended by law enforcement agencies, and we will ensure that full legal action is taken against them,” he added.
The state government, who accused the cement company of distorting the facts, vowed to recover all accrued dividends from profits made over the years by the Dangote Group, including accrued interests on the same.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( LCCI) warned that wrong handling of the ownership tussle or unprofessional approaches to resolutions could send negative signals to potential foreign investors.
The LCCI, in a statement by its Director-General, Dr Chinyere Almona condemned the attack and said the situation was a reflection of the poor handling of investment protection issues in the country.
The LCCI in the statement recommended a meeting of all government agencies connected with the acquisition of the cement plant to resolve any differences thereof.
This process the chamber said can be taken without necessarily shutting down the factory and endangering jobs, products, and government revenues, adding that wrong handling or unprofessional approaches to resolutions can send negative signals to potential foreign investors.