…vows to take over plant from Dangote
…how Dangote reportedly bribed late Governor Audu
Indeed, power corrupts nobility and reduces the most valiant of men to petty minions. While it imbues ordinary men with exceptional grace and charisma, it reduces extraordinary men till they keel over from their exalted states and become impotent masters of their fates.
This bitter truths easily manifest in the fates of Aliko Dangote.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has stated in unequivocal terms his readiness and determination to recover the Obajana Cement Plant from Dangote Group.
The government’s resolution is contained in the report of the Specialised Technical Committee on the Evaluation of the Legality of the Alleged Acquisition of Obajana Cement Company by Dangote Cement Company.
In his remarks, Governor Bello said that 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 has become imperative against the background of protests by the people of the state who felt they had been suppressed and marginalised by the Dangote Group who had come to rip them off.
“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 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,” Mr Bello declared.
Bello also accused Dangote of being evasive in spite of the interventions of some well-meaning Nigerians in the matter. However, he expressed his openness to discussions once Dangote Company Plc is ready to come clean.
Earlier, the Kogi House of Assembly had announced the sealing of the cement factory, threatening to arrest President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
The report was presented to the public by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Folashade Ayoade, earlier today in Lokoja.
Ayoade said, “Recovery of the state’s Obajana Cement Company Plc from Dangote Cement Company Limited became imperative at this point in time.”
The SSG revealed with documents that the purported transfer of Obajana to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void”.
She 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.
According to her, the committee, in view of its findings, has, therefore, recommended that Kogi State should take steps to recover the Obajana Cement Company from the 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 the same.
“Kogi State Government should take steps to cancel the existing seven Certificates of Occupancy in the name of Dangote Cement Company.”
Stressing the aberration in the arrangement, the SSG said, “Agreement between Kogi State Government of Nigeria and Dangote Industries Limited, dated 30th July 2002.
“And, supplemental agreements dated 14th February 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 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.”
Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, specifically noted 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.
“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,” Mr Kolawole stated.
It would be recalled that when the Olusegun Obasanjo government sold Obajana Cement to Aliko Dangote in 2003, the Kogi State government retained 10% of the equity in the company.
The factory was to later become the largest cement asset in Dangote Cement, Nigeria’s largest listed manufacturing company.
The Kogi State House of Assembly claims that based on a recent investigation, no valid acquisition took place for the Obajana Cement Company. They premised this allegation on the fact that the state was not paid for its holdings in the company nor has it received any dividends for its 10% equity in the company now worth about 16.5billion dollars.
A state government official is alleged to have said that upon the so-called acquisition of the company, Dangote Cement was meant to pay the state government for its 10% equity but never did.
Instead, in a show of open corruption, the company paid the then governor, Prince Abubakar Audu, a tidy sum to turn its face the other way and prevent it from paying the state for its 10% equity in the factory.
Then the state granted Dangote access to all its assets including its coal mines which were not part of the acquisition and from which the factory mines the coal used for power. These mines which Prince Audu transferred to Dangote were not a part of the acquisition and also not part of the state’s 10%.
Whilst Dangote Cement continues to claim it has paid for the state’s equity, the company was unable to produce any valid document showing the transaction ever occurred and instead rebuffed every attempt over several months by the State House of Assembly’s investigation panel to appear before it.
Now, the Yahaya Bello government is seeking reparations both for the 10% stake and its coal mines which are being exploited without any benefit to the state. The state insists that the transaction was never concluded since there is no documented evidence or financial transaction that shows it ever received any payment for its equity stake in the company.
“It is a shame that nothing has been gained by the state since the acquisition of the company. Not from our mines which are still owned 100% by the state but transferred to the company, nor for our 10% stake in the company which has been forcefully taken through fraudulent means. This is very bad and highly unethical for a company that is listed on the Nigerian exchange,” said the official who spoke under conditions of anonymity.
“In fact, all the coal mines that were taken over belonging to Kogi state and were handed over to Obajana worth billions of Naira are presently not yielding any benefits for the state,” the official said.
The official also stated that Aliko Dangote has been making efforts to solicit the assistance of several bigwigs in the country to get Governor Bello to soft pedal and rescind his decision against the company but the governor has stuck to his guns.