A Federal High Court in Benin City, Edo State, has restrained Dangote Industries and the Nigerian Police Force from interfering with BUA Group’s operations at the disputed Okpella mining sites in the State in a judgement it delivered recently.
A statement by the management of BUA, on Sunday, said the court ordered the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Edo State, Dangote Industries, and Dangote Cement Plc as first to fourth respondents in the case to stay off the mining sites and not interfere in any manner whatsoever with BUA’s operation of disputed mining lease sites.
BUA described the judgment as “one major step towards the ﬁnal vindication of our rights over the mining sites and in line with BUA’s position that it holds the legal mining leases to the disputed sites, and that all parties in this dispute allow the courts be the ﬁnal arbiter as has been our mantra, “LET THE COURTS DECIDE.”
While appreciating the Judiciary for standing ﬁrm on the side of justice in the discharge of its duties and noting the commitment of all parties in submitting wholeheartedly to the judicial process, the company said it “has now resumed operations at the Obu-Okpella mines as ordered by the court.”
The statement recalled that BUA’s legitimate activities on three mining sites in the mines were abruptly disrupted by the Inspector General of Police and the Edo state commissioner of Police on the order of Dangote Cement Plc and its holding company- Dangote Industries, in 2017.
BUA, in the statement, assured stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, regulators, host communities, security agencies and the public, that the court upheld the company’s “fundamental right to peaceful possession of the mining sites in Obu, Okpella, Edo State (operated by BUA Cement and which BUA became seised by virtue of mining leases granted by the Federal Government of Nigeria), without unlawful interference from the Inspector General of Police, 1st Respondent; Commissioner of Police, Edo State, 2nd Respondent; Dangote Industries, 3rd Respondent; and Dangote Cement Plc, 4th Respondent.
“It would be recalled that BUA was legally operating its various mining sites in Obu-Okpella, Edo State before the above named respondents abruptly disrupted our operations at three of those mines in 2017 during the pendency of two other matters. The 1st and 2nd Respondents at the behest of the 3rd and 4th Respondents invaded and shut down the operations.
“We then approached the courts to enforce our fundamental rights to the property of the mines as well as our rights to continue operating from those mines. Whilst we were awaiting judgement, we continued to sustain our operations from our other numerous mines in that area unaﬀected by these actions.”
After a prolonged trial, which started in 2017, the statement continued, “the court not only found that we have always been in possession of the mining sites but clearly found that the 1st and 2nd respondents were used and allowed themselves to be used by the 3rd and 4th respondents to invade, and disrupt our operations in the aﬀected and disputed mine sites during the pendency of two other matters between us and the 3rd and 4th respondents.
“The court accordingly granted an order restraining the ﬁrst 1st and 2nd respondents (The Police) as well as the 3rd and 4th respondents (Dangote Industries &Dangote Cement Plc) from interfering in any manner whatsoever with BUA’s operation of disputed mining lease sites. The two other matters remain pending in court.”