Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday ordered the closure of Obu mines in Okpella just as the ‘media war’ between Dangote and BUA groups continued.
The two cement giants have been contesting for the mining site, using different titles to prove their claims. Obu Mines is rich in limestones, a major raw material in cement production.
Obaseki shut down the mines until further notice citing security concerns arising from the proclamation by the Federal Ministry of Mines that illegal mining activities were being carried out at the contentious mines.
The governor said the decision was taken in the interest of peace and tranquillity, pointing out that flouting of his order would be met with wrath of the state government.
Consequently, the governor directed the state police commissioner and the Army Brigade Commander in the state to halt further operations at the mines with immediate effect.
It would be recalled that the ownership of the mines has been a subject of dispute between Africa’s leading cement manufacturers, Dangote Cement Plc and Bua Cement, which the Federal Ministry of Mines had asked them to vacate the mines because of illegal exploitation of limestones in the area.
A statement from Dangote Group said Governor Obaseki made the announcement while receiving in his office community heads and chiefs of Ukhomunyio Okpella, whose community is hosting the disputed mines.
They had come to express reservation at the alleged use of youths as militia to enforce perceived rights to ownership of the mines thus creating security threat to the peace of the people.
The governor noted that the mines is on the exclusive list of the Federal Government and the ministry said there is illegal mining going on there, “From today there will be no further mining operations in Obu,” he declared.
Meanwhile, BUA Group said in reaction to Dangote statement on the issue that the Dangote group stank of desperation in its continued attempt to disregard the judicial process and scheme a viable competitor out of business as has been their legendary antecedent.
“We thus wish to reiterate once again that whilst we do not want to join issues with anyone on this matter as it is currently before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are however compelled to use the opportunity presented by Edwin Devakumar’s reckless statements to clarify the cycle of misinformation being proliferated.
“In specific response to Edwin Devakumar of Dangote Group’s claim of BUA operating on ML2541 in Okene, Kogi State, we wish to restate that BUA does not have any operations whatsoever in Okene, Kogi State where the purported ML2541 is situated.
“Our mining operations are limited to Obu-Okpella, Edo State for which licenses ML18912 & 18913 were issued and revalidate by the same ministry in a publication,” he said.