Dangote Group, BUA Trade Words Over Ownership Of Obu-Okpella Mines

June 16, 2020
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The managements of Dangote and BUA Groups yesterday engaged in verbal war over who owns the mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State.

While Dangote Group advised the regulatory agencies to disregard completely what it described as unfounded and mischievous claim and publication by the BUA Group laying claim to the disputed site, saying it was riddled with misrepresentations and deliberate distortions of facts, BUA on its part challenged the Dangote Group to point out the specific facts that were misrepresented.

The Dangote Group, in a statement signed by its Group executive director, Devakumar Edwin and made available to LEADERSHIP 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.

Edwin further explained that “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 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.

But reacting, the management of BUA Group described the claims by the Dangote Group, that it (BUA) misinterpreted the fact about a pending court case as untrue.

BUA in its own statement also made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday 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 judgment 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,” BUA said in the statement, adding, “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 manifest 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 newspapers 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.” 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.

According to the statement, “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 we are restrained from taking benefit of the judgment, which was in our favor.

“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”.

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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