The two companies, in their statements, laid claim to ownership of the mining sites located in Obu, Okpella, Edo State.
The Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Devakumar Edwin, revealed that in 2014, the Dangote Group and AICO entered into an agreement for the transfer of 2541ML from AICO to Dangote.
He said, “AICO thereafter applied to the Ministry of Mines for the approval of the transfer vide a Mining Lease Transfer Form dated July 11, 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 February 3, 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.”
Dangote Group advised the general public and those working with BUA Group not to take any steps to enter, mine or interfere with the disputed leases.
A Federal High Court in Benin City, Edo State has however restrained Dangote Industries and the Nigerian Police Force from interfering with BUA Group’s operations of the disputed Okpella mining sites in Okpella, Edo State.
A statement by the management of the company, yesterday, recalled that BUA was legally operating on its mining sites before operations at three of those mines were abruptly disrupted by the Inspector General of Police and the Edo state Commissioner of Police on the order of Dangote Industries and Dangote Cement Plc in 2017.
According to the statement, the court ordered the Inspector General of Police and Edo State Commissioner of Police, Dangote Industries, and Dangote Cement Plc to steer clear of the mining sites or interfering in any manner whatsoever with BUA’s operation of disputed mining lease sites.
BUA, in a statement, dismissed Dangote’s claim to the sites as “frivolous”.
The statement said, “The Dangote Group alleged that BUA claims to have been granted its mining licences 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 licences, as the authority to grant a mining licence is within the sole jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development through the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, which granted the BUA licences.
“We wish to state clearly that the mining licence granted to Dangote Group explicitly states that the location is in Kogi State, Nigeria, while the BUA licences 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 licence is therefore ludicrous.”