Ibeto and Nigercem ownership dispute rages on

Ibeto and Nigercem ownership dispute rages on
Published: 23 December 2014

The Ebonyi State Government in Nigeria has warned the Ibeto Cement Company over an alleged illegal entry into the premises of Nigercem cement premises located at Nkalagu.

The entry has been perceived as an act of provocation by Governor Martin Elechi of Eb­onyi State, as Nigercem is still subject of an ownership dispute in the courts.

He said: “We recall that the following dispute be­tween the state govern­ment and Ibeto Group on the ownership of Nigercem, Ebonyi State Government exercised its illegal right of land own­ership by revoking the certificate of all the land upon which Nigercem is situated.

“By going into the prem­ises of Nigercem with­out the permission of the State Government, the Ibeto Group has demon­strated an alarming desire to acquire the God-given mineral wealth of Ebonyi people for its interest”.

Background: Nigercem was the first cement plant ever to be established in Nigeria, in 1954, and was privatised in 2002, after which Eastern Bulkcem Nigeria Limited emerged as the core investor with a 65 per cent stake, while the Ebonyi State Government was given 10 per cent and the outstanding shares remained in public hands.

The origins of the current dispute arise from Eastern Bulkcem’s failure to modernise the ageing plant, instead opting to use their ownership of the plant to obtain import licences for bulk cement. The Ebonyi State Government, frustrated at Eastern Bulkcem’s the failure to rehabilitate the plant, resorted to extra-judicial means to shut it down, revoking Nigercem’s certificate of occupancy pending a Judicial Commission to investigate the state of affairs in the company.

In 2012 Ibeto Cement company Limited acquire Eastern Bulkcem, and with the change of ownership, Ibeto Cement now controls 60 per cent of the share in Nigercem. Local reports argue that the ongoing impasse is due to the fact that the current owner, Cletus Ibeto, does not hail from Ebonyi.