Dangote in crisis talks over violence at Obajana plant

Dangote in crisis talks over violence at Obajana plant
12 October 2022

Aliko Dangote, president of the Dangote Group, has met with state governors to try and resolve the crisis at the cement producer’s Obajana plant. In attendance at the meeting was Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, Abdullahi Sule, governor of Nasarawa State, and Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the President of Nigeria.

The meeting follows violence at the plant after the Kogi State Government attempted to seal the plant over concerns relating to tax evasion and legal ownership of the plant. During the sealing process, violence erupted resulting in a number of plant workers being seriously injured. According to a statement by the Dangote Group, 27 workers were shot by Kogi state vigilantes, with some of the company’s property at the plant also being destroyed. Dangote has also reiterated that the Obajana plant is 100 per cent owned by Dangote Cement Plc.

Following the violence at the plant, the Kogi Assembly Complex was burnt down, something that Dangote firmly denies having any involvement in. In a statement, the company said, “Our attention has been drawn to a circulating press statement issued by the Kogi state government, wherein the Dangote Group was accused of allegedly sponsoring arsonists to set the Kogi State House of Assembly on fire in the early hours of Monday, October 10, 2022. The statement titled, ‘Obajana: Desperation sets in as imported hoodlums burn down Kogi Assembly’, which was signed by the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, pointedly accused our company of burning the complex “in an attempt to possibly destroy evidence relating to the ownership tussle between the Kogi State Government and the Dangote Group over the Obajana Cement Company.

“As a socially responsible corporate entity, we totally refute this allegation and condemn this unprofessional and irresponsible attempt to smear our image before local and international investors and thus erode our brand value. Dangote Group would never stoop so low as to sponsor thugs to destroy any property, belonging to either government or any individual. This runs contrary to our business ethos and everything we stand for as a leading manufacturer with teeming customers and consumers across Nigeria and Africa.

“Our lawyers have been mandated to react appropriately to the damaging allegation from the Kogi State Government within the full extent of the law,” said the statement.

Commenting on the incident, Adewale-Smart Oyerinde, director general of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), told This Day that the developments at the Dangote factory in Obajana were both unfortunate and worrisome. Mr Oyerinde stated that Dangote Cement remains one of the major employers of labour in Nigeria and the location of the cement plant presented an awesome opportunity for the locals to be gainfully employed.

He added that if there are any issues arising from the ownership of the plant, the most responsible course of action should have been “to explore conciliatory or legal options rather than the gangster option that was used”. “That action alone portends danger to our quest for foreign direct investment as a rational investor will be concerned about the security and legal system of any clime,” he warned.

Published under Cement News