DANGCEM and BUA Lay Claims to Obu-Okpella Mines; Both Issue Statements

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Wednesday, 17 June 2020 / 12:17 PM / Press Releases by Dangote Group and BUA Group / Header Image Credit: Ecographics

 

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The managements of Dangote Group and BUA Group yesterday, issued statements over claims to the ownership of Obu-Okpella Mining Site in Edo State. Both releases can be accessed below.

 

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Dangote Owns the Obu-Okpella Mines... As FG declares BUA's mining leases non-existent

 

The Management of Dangote Group on Monday denied the claim by the BUA Group to the mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State, refuting the ownership claim, as the latter said it relied on the Federal High Court recent judgment in Benin.

 

Dangote advised the regulatory agencies to disregard completely the unfounded and mischievous claim and publication by the BUA Group, saying it was riddled with misrepresentations and deliberate distortions of facts.

 

Dangote Group, in a statement signed by the Group Executive Director, Devakumar Edwin, yesterday explained that the Dangote Group through its lawyers had vigorously defended the Suit filed by the BUA Group seeking a perpetual Injunctive Order against further interferences with their purported fundamental rights to property and privacy. He said the Group has appealed the High Court judgment and until the Appellate Court rules, BUA cannot lay claim or even operate on the mining site.

 

Giving details of the case, Edwin recalled that in 2014, the Dangote Group and AICO entered into an agreement for the transfer of 2541ML from AICO to Dangote Group. "AICO thereafter applied to the Ministry of Mines for the approval of the Transfer vide a Mining Lease Transfer Form dated 11 July 2014. In 2016, the Ministry of Mines wrote to the Dangote Group to convey the approval of the Ministry for the Transfer/Assignment of 2541ML from AICO to Dangote Group with effect from 03 February 2016. Following the approval of the Ministry, the Dangote Group became the legal holder and owner of the Mining Lease No. 2541ML. The 2541ML Certificate was thereafter endorsed to reflect the transfer from AICO to the Dangote Group", he added.

 

Dangote Group, therefore, warned the general public and those working with BUA Group not to take any steps to enter, mine or interfere with the disputed mining leases pending the determination of the Appeal and/or the 2 Suits pending before Umar J. as any such steps will be considered a contempt of court. He noted that the Supreme Court in the case of Governor of Lagos State v. Chief Ojukwu (1986) 1 NWLR (pt. 18) 621), has held that:

 

"Once a party is aware of a pending court process, even when the court has not made a specific injunctive order, parties are bound to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the court process".

 

Insisting that BUA Group does not have any right to the mining sites, Edwin recalled that though the BUA Group claimed to have title pursuant to Mining Leases 18912 and 18913. "However, as recently as 09 October 2019 while its wholly incompetent Fundamental Right Suit was still pending, the BUA Group through its subsidiary (Edo Cement Company Ltd) applied to the Director-General of Mining Cadastre Office & Centre, Abuja for the renewal of the said Mining Leases Nos. 18912 and 18913. In response to the BUA Group's renewal Applications, the Mining Cadastre Office, in Abuja in its letters dated 18 October 2019 wrote back to BUA Group to inform them in very categorical terms that the Mining Leases Nos 18912 and 18913 were non-existent and were not valid Mineral titles", the GED noted.

 

Edwin further explained that "Interestingly and to show the character of the BUA Group, these supremely critical facts were never brought to the attention of the Federal High Court in the Fundamental Rights Suit even though the Mining Cadastre Office letters were written about 8 (eight) months before the Judgment of the Court was delivered. In effect and significantly so, when that Court was handing down its decision and issuing injunctive orders to protect BUA, BUA knew and was well aware, by virtue of the above-referenced letters, that its purported rights to the mining lease were non-existent!

 

"These facts were however mischievously and in a brazen display of mala fide concealed by the BUA Group from the Court! Even these facts constitute sufficient proof that the BUA Group's claim to Mining Leases Nos. 18912 and 18913 rest entirely on quicksand and is therefore invalid baseless and totally non-existent. The general public is advised to be guided accordingly," Edwin added. 

 

 

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BUA Group to Dangote: "No one is Above the Law no Matter How Highly Placed... Respect the judicial process:

 

BUA Group has described the publication of Dangote Group wherein it stated that BUA misinterpreted the fact about a pending court case as untrue and laden with fraught misrepresentations. A statement by BUA Group explained that Dangote, in its hurry to twist facts, failed to justify the alleged misinterpretation in its publication but stylishly stated that it has appealed the judgement whilst accepting the recent court order, which granted BUA the right to peaceful possession and operations of three of its mining sites in Obu, Okpella in Edo State.

 

"In the said publication by Dangote Group, it was alleged that the initial publication of the BUA Group was riddled with misrepresentations and deliberate distortions of facts. We however note that the Dangote Group failed to identify any specific fact, which was distorted. On the contrary, the Dangote Group reiterated the fact that the judgment of the Court indeed restrained DIL and the other Respondents, as contended by BUA, albeit stating that the judgment of the Court constitutes complete aberrations and contains manifests contradictions; and it has exercised its legal right to appeal the decision of the Court. Whilst we consider this attempt to disparage the Court on the pages of print media as an affront, we shall not be joining issues with the Dangote Group, as we are of the view that the Court can protect itself and DIL reserves the right to appeal the decision of the Court.

 

The Dangote Group also questioned the right of BUA to institute the BUA Fundamental Right Suit on the basis that it was a clear abuse of court process as there are two other pending suits - the BUA Suit and Suit No. FHC/B/CS/74/2016: Dangote Industries Limited & Anor. v. BUA International Limited & Ors ("Dangote Suit").  This is notwithstanding that the Dangote Group itself ironically commenced the Dangote Suit during the pendency of the BUA Suit. Moreover, it is trite law that any fundamental right suit is an independent claim, which does not impede a pending dispute. In this instance, the suit was deemed necessary in view of Dangote Groups use of the Nigeria Police Force to disrupt the possessory right of BUA Group and to safeguard the lives of BUA Group's employees. Indeed, Court confirmed this in the BUA Fundamental Rights Suit where it was stated:  "that the 1st and 2nd Respondents (Police) allowed themselves to be used by the 3rd and 4th Respondents (DIL and Dangote Cement)"

 

It is imperative to note that the Dangote Group's use of the Nigeria Police Force to disrupt BUA's operations was done brazenly after DIL had applied to Court for a restraining order against BUA in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/74/2016, which was granted ex parte, but set aside by the Court upon a robust challenge by BUA. Interestingly, the Dangote Group did not deny resorting to self-help in its publication. It is our contention that no one should be above the law, no matter how highly placed, powerful or influential as the rule of law is the pillar and foundation of any democracy.

 

BUA further corrected Dangote on it claim that BUA was granted its mining lease from the Governor of Edo State restating that the authority to grant a mining license is within the sole jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development through the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, which granted the BUA licenses. BUA also dismissed Dangote's claim to BUA's mining sites in Edo as absurd and frivolous as Dangote's mining license was granted under Kogi State while BUA licenses and mining sites respectively cover and are located in Obu, Okpella in Edo State. 

 

With respect to the Dangote Group's interpretation of the consequence of its Appeal of the decision of the Court, it is trite law that an Appeal does not amount to a stay of execution, and the Dangote Group is only being mischievous by suggesting that BUA is refrained from taking benefit of the judgment, which was in BUA's favor. As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Tai Ajomale v. Yuduat and Anor (1991) All N.L.R. 197:

 

"The successful litigant is prima facie entitled to the fruits of the judgment in his favour, it is expressly provided in Section 24 of the Supreme Court Act, 1960, that an appeal does not operate as a stay of execution."

 

"The Courts have also reiterated the position of law in the case of Enabulele v. Agbonlahor (1994) 5 NWLR (PT. 342) 112 at P125, where it was held that:

 

"It is trite law that under Section 18 of the Court of Appeal Act, 1976, the filing of a Notice of Appeal does not operate as a stay of execution since the Court will not normally deprive a successful party of the fruits of his successful litigation"

 

BUA Group will not join issues with Dangote as the intention of its publication was to inform its shareholders and other stakeholders of the judgment of the Federal High Court which granted BUA's and not commence a media trial.

 

According to the statement titled: RE:  BUA OBU MINES, OKPELLA EDO STATE, it read: "We read with dismay the publication by the Dangote Group which purports to "set the records straight" with regards to the earlier publication of the BUA group on the recent judgment of the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/101/2017: BUA v. IGP & Ors. ("BUA Fundamental Right Suit"), which restrains Dangote Industries Limited ("DIL") and other Respondents in the suit from interfering in BUA Group's mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State.

 

"In the said publication by Dangote Group, it was alleged that the initial publication of the BUA Group was riddled with misrepresentations and deliberate distortions of facts. We however note that the Dangote Group failed to identify any specific fact, which was distorted. On the contrary, the Dangote Group reiterated the fact that the judgment of the Court indeed restrained DIL and the other Respondents, as contended by BUA, albeit stating that the judgment of the Court constitutes complete aberrations and contains manifests contradictions; and it has exercised its legal right to appeal the decision of the Court. Whilst we consider this attempt to disparage the Court on the pages of print media as an affront, we shall not be joining issues with the Dangote Group, as we are of the view that the Court can protect itself and DIL reserves the right to appeal the decision of the Court. 

 

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"Paradoxically, the Dangote Group's publication was fraught with untrue statements, which it touted as the facts of the matter in an attempt to misinform the general public. Accordingly, we seek to clarify the fallacies as follows:

 

Title to Mining Sites

"The Dangote Group alleged that BUA claims to have been granted its mining licenses from the Governor of Edo State. In this regard, it is imperative to note that BUA has never contended that the Governor of Edo State granted its licenses, as the authority to grant a mining license is within the sole jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development through the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, which granted the BUA licenses. Further, both the Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development and the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office are defendants in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/7/2016: BUA International Limited & Anor. v. Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development ("BUA Suit"), wherein BUA asserts its legal and beneficial ownership of the mining sites.

 

"Further, the Dangote Group explicitly asserted that BUA does not have any right to the mining sites on the basis of the response of the Director-General of the Mining Cadastre Office to BUA's application to renew its licenses. Needless to say, the Director-General's ministry and parastatal are also Defendants in the BUA Suit pending in Court and the reaction is therefore not surprising.

 

"We wish to state clearly that the mining license granted to Dangote Group explicitly states that the location is in Kogi State, Nigeria, while the BUA licenses and mining sites respectively cover and are located in Obu, Okpella, Edo State, Nigeria. The Dangote Group's attempt to lay claim to mining sites not within a geographical area covered by its license is therefore ludicrous.

 

"The general public is therefore advised that Dangote Group's claims are nothing but an attempt to unilaterally determine the outcome of the very matter the Court has been approached to determine in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/7/2016 - BUA Suit, which is still pending".


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Legal Precedence

The Dangote Group also questioned the right of BUA to institute the BUA Fundamental Right Suit on the basis that it was a clear abuse of court process as there are two other pending suits - the BUA Suit and Suit No. FHC/B/CS/74/2016: Dangote Industries Limited & Anor. v. BUA International Limited & Ors ("Dangote Suit").  This is notwithstanding that the Dangote Group itself ironically commenced the Dangote Suit during the pendency of the BUA Suit. Moreover, it is trite law that any fundamental right suit is an independent claim, which does not impede a pending dispute.

 

In this instance, the suit was deemed necessary in view of Dangote Groups use of the Nigeria Police Force to disrupt the possessory right of BUA Group and to safeguard the lives of BUA Group's employees. Indeed, Court confirmed this in the BUA Fundamental Rights Suit where it was stated: "1that the 1st and 2nd Respondents (Police) allowed themselves to be used by the 3rd and 4th Respondents (DIL and Dangote Cement)"

 

It is imperative to note that the Dangote Group's use of the Nigeria Police Force to disrupt BUA's operations was done brazenly after DIL had applied to Court for a restraining order against BUA in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/74/2016, which was granted ex parte, but set aside by the Court upon a robust challenge by BUA. Interestingly, the Dangote Group did not deny resorting to self-help in its publication. It is our contention that no one should be above the law, no matter how highly placed, powerful or influential as the rule of law is the pillar and foundation of any democracy. "With respect to the Dangote Group's interpretation of the consequence of its Appeal of the decision of the Court, it is trite law that an Appeal does not amount to a stay of execution, and the Dangote Group is only being mischievous by suggesting that BUA is refrained from taking benefit of the judgment, which was in its favor. As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Tai Ajomale v. Yuduat and Anor (1991) All N.L.R. 197:

 

"The successful litigant is prima facie entitled to the fruits of the judgment in his favour, it is expressly provided in Section 24 of the Supreme Court Act, 1960, that an appeal does not operate as a stay of execution."

 

"The Courts have also reiterated the position of law in the case of Enabulele v. Agbonlahor (1994) 5 NWLR (PT. 342) 112 at P125, where it was held that:

 

"It is trite law that under Section 18 of the Court of Appeal Act, 1976, the filing of a Notice of Appeal does not operate as a stay of execution since the Court will not normally deprive a successful party of the fruits of his successful litigation"

 

"We shall refrain from further joining issues on this particular matter as the intention of our initial publication was to inform our shareholders and other stakeholders of the judgment of the Federal High Court and not to commence a media trial with the Dangote Group".  

  

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7.     Nigerian Cement: at the End of The Tunnel? - ARM, Feb 27, 2017

8.     Nigerian Cement Industry - Setting New Profit Margin Levels - Exotic Partners, Sept 21, 2016

9.     The Nigerian Cement Industry: Economic Expansion Followed by Accelerated Growth in Cement Industry

10.  Update on Developments within the Nigerian Cement Industry

11.   Nigeria's Cement Manufacturing Industry Rep

12.  Cement manufacturers advocate backward integration

13.  NSE listing requirements & the Dangote Cement/BCC Merger (2) - Sep 15, 2010

14.  Unending Cement Wars  - Sept 13, 2010

15.  The M&A between Dangote Cement and BCC - Matters Arising - Sep 10, 2010

16.  Nigerian Cement - Building Capacity  - Access Bank, Apr 04, 2010

 

 

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