Fresh twist bordering on jurisdiction has engulfed the escalating ownership controversy trailing the Obu Limestone Mine in Okpella, Edo State.
Less than 24 hours after the state government announced the shutting down of the mine as part of efforts to avoid escalation of hostilities, the management of BUA International Limited, voided the directive, saying the state government does not have jurisdiction over the matter since it is a federal issue.
Business Hilights recalls that there had been a dispute over a contentious site No. 2541ML between Dangote Group and BUA International Limited.
However, BUA Group may have been wrong as the pronouncement was an offshoot of a directive from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and to avoid the breakdown of law and order in the community.
Key aspect of the directive mine shut is that security operatives in the state should ensure there are no operations in the mine site until the outcome of the suit, or pending further instructions from the supervisory ministry, which is the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel.
In a statement signed by the Group Head, Corporate Communications, BUA International Limited, Otega Ogra, the cement company averred that “The Edo state government lacked powers to shut the site”.
“However interesting to note that the mine under contention, ML2541, has been claimed repeatedly by the Ministry of Mines and Dangote to be in Okene, Kogi state. Thus, we are curious and are at great loss as to why the Governor of Edo State is closing down a mine in Edo State which has been claimed by the other parties involved to be outside his state in Okene, Kogi State and which the purported ML2541 license also states clearly.
“The Ministry has written us prior and our response was published in our open letter to His Excellency, The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on December 4, 2017. This case remains in a competent court of jurisdiction which has ordered all parties – BUA, Dangote, The Ministry of Mines and others to maintain status quo and we will continue to abide by the dictates of the court as a responsible corporate citizen.’’
“We are however yet to receive some form of official communication asking us to close our mining sites ML18912 and ML18913 in Edo State, thus this alleged closing down report still remains in the territory of hearsay. We will respond accordingly when and if we get an official communication from the proper authorities,” BUA noted.
Earlier on Sunday, Dangote Gorup had raised alarm that BUA is trespassing a mine it has licence to operate.