Cement Palaver: Yahaya Bello Battles Dangote

Cement Palaver: Yahaya Bello Battles Dangote

Sunday, October 30, 2022 8:00 am

Cement Palaver. Yahaya Bello Battles Dangote

Governor Yahaya Bello battles Aliko Dangote over ownership of the Obajana Cement plant
By Richard Elesho
Last Wednesday 5 October 2022, Nigerians were treated to a bizarre spectacle. For those familiar with Bible time narratives, it was partial, but a malign throwback to the face-off between Jewish King Ahab and Naboth, the Jezreelite over the latter’s vineyard. That day, a battalion of gunmen in paramilitary attires led by irate stewards of the Kogi State Government visited the Dangote Cement Company at Obajana, in broad daylight. At stake was the ownership structure of the cement giant.
 It was tra ta ta ta galore. A staccato of gunshots heralded the arrival of the invaders, which locals call ‘Government Vigilantes’ or ‘Government Hunters.’ Traffic was distorted as the usually busy Obajana/ Lokoja Highway was blocked. Frightened workers and passersby ran for cover.

Dangote Cement, Obajana Plant

Buoyed by a resolution of the Kogi State House of Assembly and, perhaps a dint of avarice, the unruly band in their hundreds, marched in and shut the factory, shouting, shooting and maiming, as they did so. The control rooms were targeted and equipment whose monetary value has not been computed were vandalized. Communication cords were also severed to bring production to an abrupt halt.
 They occupied the factory for the rest of the chaotic day. Obajana was literally on fire. During the commando-like attack, cement trucks were burnt and many others were vandalized, as the invaders hijacked Dangote buses, and vans and brought all market or business activities to a standstill. It was a Cement War fought from all sides.

Governor Yahaya Bello. He sent ‘Government Vigilante’ men to invade Dangote Cement Plant, Obajana

Aliko Dangote, owner of the Obajana Cement Plant

 By the time calmness returned, three people were reportedly killed, 27 others sustained gun wounds and the sum of 207 Million Naira kept in one of the offices had developed wings, disappearing into thin air. Of course, the company, its workers and the host community suffered huge collateral losses, yet to be determined.
 Many travellers were stranded in the community. Engr Zakari Kazeem, a Contractor who was inside the factory when the assailants arrived said he was rudely ordered out. He made his way to Lokoja through the much longer and more hazardous Obajana/ Kabba/ Okene/ Lokoja Road. That is a distance of about 150 kilometres compared to the 30 km Obajana/ Lokoja Road.
 Forty five- year old Tijani Mukhtari was not that lucky. He was shot several times in the lower abdomen and currently battling for his life. Health workers said he was slated for emergency surgery. Mukhtari was having difficulty breathing and was in severe pain when reporters visited the hospital.
 Aminu Sarki, 43, a fleet officer at the Transport section of the Plant, who was shot in the leg, condemned the act. He said he was in his office when a stray bullet pierced through and hit him on the leg. He said: “Because of loud gunshots by the governor’s boys, I was just hiding inside our office at the PTI when the bullets hit me and got lodged inside my legs.”
 The Dangote Group, owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote cried blue murder. After more than usual activities at the Obajana airstrip and the pulling of certain strings behind the scene, the company was unsealed and it roared back to life, the following day. The area has since been militarized to avoid a relapse into anarchy.
 It was gathered that following the display by the Kogi State Government emissaries, the company sought help from above. Consequently, a large number of soldiers and other security personnel were deployed to dislodge the Kogi enforcement team and protect the company from a further security breach.
Inferno at dawn
Five days later, the second scene of the melodrama was on stage. That was on Monday, 10 October, when Nigerians woke up to a grave foreboding, that the state House of Assembly Complex was on fire. The conflagration was suspected to have started unnoticed overnight. By dawn, its flaming tongue had licked the Assembly Chambers, destroying the roof, furniture and vital documents.

Burnt Kogi House of Assembly

Early callers at the scene of the inferno included the Speaker, Prince Mathew Kolawole and Commandant Jerry Omodara, a retired military brass hat and State Security Adviser. They expressed shock at the incident and promised to launch its probe. Kolawole who suspected sabotage fell short of calling names.
 Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, in a statement, suggested the fire might not be unconnected with the Dangote dispute. He revealed that security and technical experts were working hard to unravel the cause(s) of the inferno noting that the “government will inform the general public of findings as they unfold.
 “We urge the general public to be calm, law-abiding and resist the temptation of being lawless as the Government is capable of dealing with the likely outcome of the investigations.”
 The Dangote group denied culpability in the inferno. Its Group Chief Branding & Communications Officer Anthony Chiejina, in a statement, frowned at any attempt to link the conglomerate to arson.
 “As a socially responsible corporate entity, we 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.”

Anthony Chiejina, in a statement, frowned at any attempt to link the conglomerate to arson

Protests and 48-hour ultimatum
 The defence notwithstanding, the combustions, in the face of rampaging flood disaster in the State, has truly ushered Kogi into a season of anomy. For the next week or so, sporadic protests by youths broke out across the state.
Like a choreograph, youths in their numbers took turns to stage peaceful protests against the Dangote’s brand of aristocratic capitalism and to queue up behind their Governor. Branded vehicles of the Dangote group were randomly harassed and prevented from normal operations by the protesters.
 The anti-Dangote protests, like the #EndSARS Demonstrations of October 2020 were staged in all 21 Local Government Areas of the State. Members of the National Association of Kogi State Students, NAKOSS, participated in an event which analysts opined was aimed to impress the Government.
 One of the protesters accused Dangote of “polluting our lands, killing our people every day with his trucks and causing erosion as a result of his mining activities that have wreaked huge havoc and endangered people’s lives.” They vowed to send a petition to the International Court of Justice at the Hague hanging crimes against inhumanity on the conglomerate.
 By Wednesday, the protesters were becoming more disorderly. The same day Government called for restraint and discouraged further attacks on the facilities of the perceived enemy. It directed every impounded truck of the company is set free.  But it called on Dangote to respect the resolution of the Assembly by closing down its operations within 48 hours.

A wounded worker

 “The Governor has also urged the Management of Dangote Group to ensure the Cement Factory at Obajana is shut down within the next 48 hours in honour of the legislative arm of Government which ordered the plant sealed until the Dangote Group furnishes the legislature with the requisite documents demanded by the legislature.
 “As a Government, we will defend and protect all Government institutions against impunity.” A government statement said.
Dangote Cement Obajana: Hen that Lays the Golden Egg in Dispute
 Before the establishment of the Dangote Cement Plant, Obajana used to be a small agrarian community located along Lokoja/Kabba road, in Kogi State. The people of this sleeping community were peasant farmers who cultivated crops that were barely enough to feed their families. This relatively unknown community however roared to global reckoning in 2007, when the cement giant, Dangote Cement, opened a factory there.
 Dangote Cement, as it is now known headquartered in Lagos, has fully integrated cement plants of 32.3 Mta located in Obajana, Ibese in Ogun State and Gboko, Benue State. Without mincing words, Obajana is the flagship of the company and the biggest of the plants.
 The 16.25 metric tonnes per annum plant from five production lines, is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was commissioned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2008 with two lines totalling 5Mta, it was even then the largest cement factory in the region. It extended its capacity to 10.25Mta in 2012 with the opening of Line 3, added a further 3.0Mta line in late 2014 and another 3.0Mta in 2020.
Obajana has limestone reserves of 647 million tonnes, running to some kilometres and expected to last for about 45 years. The plant is supported by a fleet of 2,370 trucks.
 Aside from other benefits, the company has changed the unemployment narrative of Kogi state and beyond, as it took thousands of Nigerians, especially Kogi indigenes off the Labour market, offering them direct or indirect employment.
 Besides the regular employment generated, thousands of others are also engaged in one way or the other. Hundreds of women operate roadside eateries where local delicacies are sold while others run myriad of businesses in the cement town.
 The company is responsible for the construction of Obajana to Kabba Road using a cement base and under a special arrangement with the Federal Government. Travelling on the 44-kilometre road was a harrowing experience. The road which is a major link for those travelling from the West to the North at a point became a death trap. Motorists had to make a detour to Okene before navigating to Lokoja, thereby tripling the distance from Kabba to Lokoja.
 As the road condition continued to deteriorate, some concerned residents sent a save-our-soul appeal to the presidency and the minister of Transport in 2008, for urgent rehabilitation of the Trunk A road. Succour came when the management of Obajana Cement paved the road with concrete as part of its corporate social responsibility.
 Notwithstanding these benefits, however, residents and citizens of the Confluence State demand more from the company. They groan over the price of cement in the State. Cornelius Adewo, a builder claimed that the product is cheaper in some core northern states than in Kogi.
 “They are selling a bag of cement here for over N4,000 while it is sold for far less in Kano and Katsina States. I cannot understand why it should be cheaper in those places than in Kogi, where it is manufactured. This is strange..” He said.
The Probe that Closed Down DIL
 What degenerated into a wildfire began as an innocuous enquiry into the activities of the Dangote Group in Kogi. For a season, stakeholders who have suffered one way or the other from the company, have been grumbling and raising eyebrows about its operations. Environmental hazards, regular fatal accidents often traceable to the recklessness of Dangote truck drivers and casualization dominate the complaints.
 The Kogi State House of Assembly which received several complaints and was desirous of harnessing maximum economic gains resolved to probe corporate entities in the state. The twin aims were to strengthen social responsibility on one hand and boost the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, on the other.
 In August, an Ad-hoc Committee of seven members, headed by Hon. Isah Temino, a member representing Lokoja 1, was set up for that purpose.
 The Committee hit the ground running by first identifying and extending invitations for a public hearing to all the entities, including Dangote Cement. The first sign that DIL will be a hard nut to crack was the difficulty in submitting the company’s invitation to it.

Kabba to Lokoja road, reconstructed by Dangote cement

Kabba to Lokoja road, reconstructed by Dangote cement

 It was gathered that the Assembly Clerk made futile efforts to submit the invitation because he was allegedly denied access when he went there. This prompted the leadership of the House to delegate some members, who eventually went to deliver the invitation successfully.
 Then the dilly-dally continued. On the day fixed for the first hearing, Saturday, 17th September, DIL did not turn up. The lawmakers waited for her in vain, attended to other businesses, and then renewed their invitation.
 The company attended the second hearing on Thursday, 22 September, through an External Solicitor, Liman Salihu who came empty-handed. On his team were General Manager Logistics and Special Duties, Ademola Adeyemi and General Manager Administration, Adinoyi Haruna.
 The legislators who at this time were becoming sceptical about DIL’s attitude made a list of demands for documents to validate the ownership structure of the company. Again, the company ignored the requests at the third hearing.
 The lawmakers were becoming restive. Along the line, they wielded the big stick against some recalcitrant companies including ETA Zuma Rock, they also barred Dangote from coal mining activities in two LGAs, Anjoa and Olamaboro.
 The speaker, Prince Mathew Kolawole fumed that the Dangote Group seemed determined to take the Assembly for granted. He lamented that many companies were making money from the State, without giving back to it. He noted that they were on a fact-finding mission to know at what time the Obajana Cement Factory changed to Dangote Cement PLC.
 Also, the House, according to the speaker wanted to know when the 10 per cent state government’s share was transferred to the company. He hinted that the Assembly wanted to ascertain the Certificate of Ownership and many more of the company operation in Kogi State
 The final rod that broke the Camel’s back was at the Fourth Hearing on Tuesday, 4th October. Again, the Dangote team was, according to the Assembly, unable to provide the much-awaited vital documents.
 Salihu, the DIL Legal Officer, had told the lawmakers that he and other officials present at the hearing were not privy to the agreements reached between the then Kogi government and Dangote sometime in 2003 and had nothing to say about the shares.
 “Distinguished legislators, what we have about the Dangote Cement and Kogi are what are contained in the documents presented before you today. The person, who is supposed to be here with us today for this hearing is indisposed but he said by God’s grace he will be available by next week.”
 By this time, the Speaker and his colleagues were losing their cool. Their mood found expression in Kolawole’s words.
 “We all agreed at the last hearing that one of your very informed executive directors would be here today to explain issues to us and to lay before us vital documents.
 “It’s surprising that he is not here today nor the right documents are given to us to help us know exactly how Kogi Cement transmuted to Dangote Cement.
 “Besides, nobody has explained to us how we came about to own only 10 per cent from a company that was solely ours and even that percentage is not certain.”
 The legislators then picked the big stick to beat the company back to the line. It ordered the closure of the cement company. Consequently, it directed the Commissioner of Police and the State Commandant of the Civil Defence Corps as well as the Head of the Vigilante Group in the state to ensure that the resolution was enforced. House also considered inviting a former Governor of the State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, to come and shed light on the controversy.
 Finally, the Legislators gave the company another window of redemption. It was directed to appear with the documents on Oct 18th, the next hearing date. That date was still being awaited when events took a  new life on that riotous black Wednesday.
The Issues and Verbal Tirades:
 The Obajana brouhaha is a classical example of how to pursue a good case with the wrong instruments. It is a business relationship gone awry. At conception, it held great promises of mutual benefits to the parties. Things gradually went askew, however, somewhere along the line. Both sides to the dispute have been labouring hard to defend their separate positions and convictions.
 Documents sighted by this magazine and information flying in the public domain show that Obajana Cement Plc was incorporated in 1992, by Kogi State Government. The state was which was created on August 27, 1991, by President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s military regime, conceived of the project as part of efforts to boost its low financial profile. But sadly, the company only existed in name as a grandiose project.

Matthew Kolawole, Kogi State House of Assembly Speaker

 For years, nothing tangible was done to make the dream a reality. At the time, the late Prince Abubakar Audu, a former Governor of the State with remarkable sartorial tastes, reportedly rebagged and launched a few bags of Dangote Cement at a colourful ceremony in Lokoja. This was at a time when the identified site of the factory was still a virgin land overgrown by forest and taken over by wild fauna.
 About a decade after its incorporation,the State which had become desperate for growth invited, Aliko Dangote to
buy into the project. Agreements were signed on July 30th 2002  and February 15th  2003 between the parties, and the deal was good to go. The Obajana Cement began full operation in 2007 and has since remained in production until the recent conflict.
 A day after the show of force, that was Thursday, 6th October, the Kogi State Government delivered further punches. Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Dr. (Mrs) Folashade Ayoade made a public presentation of a Specialized Technical Committee Report to the State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. That was what set the disputants to another stage of engagement.
 The SSG revealed with documents that the purported transfer of Obajana to Dangote Industries Limited, was “invalid, null and void”.
 Ayoade disclosed in the report that three Certificates of Occupancy for Obajana Cement Company Plc, which was solely owned by the Kogi State Government at the time, were used to obtain a loan of N63billion by Dangote.
 According to her, the Committee, given its findings, has therefore recommended that Kogi State should take steps to recover Obajana Cement Company from the Dangote Group. “Kogi State Government should take steps to cancel the existing seven Certificates of Occupancy in the name of Dangote Cement Company.”
 “There is no evidence of payment paid by Dangote Industries Limited to Kogi State Government from the alleged transfer of Obajana Cement Company Plc and no dividend was paid to the state from the profits realised from the inception of Dangote Cement Company Plc to date…
 “By the assignment of the three certificates of occupancy, the title in Obajana Cement Company Plc still vests in Kogi State Government as the sole owner. The three documents were used to obtain a loan of sixty-three billion naira only (63,000,000,000.00) to finance the construction of the cement plant in Obajana.
 The Dangote Group fired back issue by issue, explaining the transformation from OCC to DCC. In a statement titled “Dangote Cement Plc: Separating Facts from Fiction,” they shed more light on its ownership of the cement plant in Obajana insisting Kogi State has no equity interest in it…
 “The land on which the Obajana Cement Plant is built was acquired solely by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) in 2003, well after it had acquired the shares in Obajana Cement Company in 2002, following the legally binding agreement it entered into with KSG to invest in Kogi State. DIL was issued three Certificates of Occupancy in its name after payment of necessary fees and compensation to landowners.
 “The plant and machinery were conceived, designed, procured, built, and paid for solely by DIL, again, well after it acquired the shares in Obajana Cement Company. The limestone and other minerals used by the Obajana Cement Plant, by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution belonged to the Federation, with authority only in the FGN and not the State in which the minerals are situated, to grant licences to extract and mine the resources”, the company explained.
 “After the agreement with the KSG, DIL applied for and obtained mining leases over the said limestone from FGN, at its cost and has complied with the terms of the leases since inception. The Government of Kogi State had no minerals to give, had no assets to give, and only invited DIL as most responsible governments do to come into the State and invest in a manner that will create employment, develop the State, and earn its taxes”, the statement added.
 “DIL also agreed, following a specific request by KSG, to use the OCP name (albeit only existing on paper as of that time and without any assets or operations) for the time being, as the vehicle for this investment. On 30 July 2002, KSG and DIL entered into a binding agreement to document their understanding. The agreement was amended in 2003 and remains binding on, and legally enforceable by, the parties to same,” the statement explained.
 It further expatiated that the original dream was for 3,500,000 metric tonnes per annum; factory with DIL holding 100% of the shareholding and Kogi State given option to acquire 5% equity in it within 5 years, aside granting seven years tax relief and exemption from levies to the company. The state failed to activate its shareholding, and neither did it grant tax relief to the budding outfit.
 The company explained the name change in 2010 as a marketing strategy and to conform with an internal transformation process.
 “Since the inception of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s administration in 2016, and regardless that government is a continuum, we have had a series of enquiries about the ownership structure of the Dangote Cement PLC as it relates to the alleged interest of KSG; and had several engagements with the officers of the State government including Governor Yahaya Bello. At all of these engagements, we have provided all the details and information supported by relevant documents, required by the Government and the State House of Assembly to confirm our lawful investment.
 The government would not leave an accusation unresponded to. On Wednesday it responded to Dangote’s claims, accusing it of asset grabbing and not acquisition.
They claimed it took a loan of at least 15 million Deutsche Marks to conduct feasibility assessments, which confirmed the existence of ‘vast limestone deposits’ that DIL found so enticing years later.
 “Sadly, for over a decade after DIL and DCP started posting profits from the operations of the Obajana plant, the Kogi State Government was still labouring to pay off the said loan and interests accruing thereon,” It said in the interest of humanity and truth, it was pertinent to ask the questions:
 “How come years after DIL and DCP claim they acquired 100 per cent of the equity and assets of Obajana Cement Plc, Kogi State officials were still listed as shareholders of the company, holding shares for and on behalf of the people of Kogi State in filings made by DIL and DCP at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)?
 “Is the above not evidence that DIL and DCP which do not deny that Kogi State invited them to invest in Obajana Cement Plc in the first place, are lying when they defend their rapacity and duplicity by claiming that Kogi State allegedly abandoned her allotted shares and was subsequently kicked out of the company she founded by them, thereby allegedly extinguishing all rights and interests of Kogi State and her people in the operations of the company?

Matthew Kolawole, Kogi State House of Assembly Speaker

For the host community, good life is a fantasy. They are like a people sleeping on top of golden resources, whose wealth is used for developing distant lands, while they languish in squalor. Despite its vast mineral deposits, life is hard and miserable in Kogi.
The state is believed to harbour the largest concentration of solid minerals, in Nigeria. It also boasts unequalled aquatic resources, being the Confluence of two of Africa’s tremendous water bodies, Rivers Niger and Benue. But, these do not translate to quality life for the inhabitants.
Obajana people and indeed commuters along that corridor regularly behold the vast industry and it’s technology, milking their resources and returning next to nothing to the community. They endure the industrial noise, inhale the poluted dust and air and live with constant ghastly accidents caused by ubiquitous Dangote truck drivers.
There is a general opinion among the people that the land and her people do not receive anything commensurate to what is taken from it. In term of its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, the people rate Dangote very low.
Michael Achor, a Lokoja based social critic think the company could do better. He said in 2021 alone, Dangote quarterly profit was in excess of N330 Billion, wondering what the company gave back to Kogi, where the bulk of the wealth came from.
The Dangote Foundation with more than 100 Million Dollars accumulated interventions over the years, and over One Billon Dollars endowments in education, health and infrastructure, conveniently ignores the state.
In 2019, Dangote’s home state Kano got a a $3.3 million complex to Bayero University Business School and 200 housing units for victims of Boko Haram insurgency. The nation’s Premier University in. Ibadan received $800,000 intervention, while Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria got a $2.7 million hostel from the industrialist’s philanthropic activities. Curiously, no intervention was given any of the nine tertiary institutions in Kogi State that year.
The foundation is not known to have constructed a single health or education facility in Kogi. Although, the company donated generously to flood victims in 2012 It constructed a workshop for youth training and empowerment in Ganaja area of the State capital around 2014. Sadly, it has not been functional till date.

Ayuba Waba. NLC also called for caution on the dispute

“No single clinic. No school and no road in his name. We certainly deserve more than these. I don’t know what Dangote thinks of Kogi people. But we demand to be treated better.”
A social Scientist, who participated in an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, study of DCO, Dr Sunday Atte in a comment blamed both parties for the sordid state of affairs. Listen to him. “True. Dangote has been limiting itself to its money making operations with very cosmetic attention to social impact of the communities and government. However, successive Administrations did not enter into a binding agreements as to what DANGOTE must do. They gave him a free reign.
“Even though DANGOTE did almost ALL his negotiations with the Federal Government, KOGI State Government as the LANDLORD (Federal may own the mineral but KOGI owns the Land), should also have entered into an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding of its own to place certain demands on the Dangote Group.
 “In the current crisis, IS THERE ANY AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE KOGI S GOVERNMENT AND DANGOTE GROUP THAT THE LATTER HAS REFUSED  TO IMPLEMENT? IF SO, THE STATE GOVERNMENT HAS A STRONG CASE TO GO TO COURT WITH. Is the KOGI STATE House of Assembly holding any agreement that DANGOTE GROUP that doesn’t want the public to see? It would be foolish for Dangote to burn down the House of Assembly since such documents would certainly be available elsewhere. Were there any deals between House of Assembly Leadership (past and present) and DANGOTE Group that the Assembly wanted to hide? Is there any substantive evidence that the burning of the House of Assembly was connected to DANGOTE alone?
“I think, personally, that for once, GYB has done great by bringing the DANGOTE issue to the foreground. The Lokoja -Kabba Road has become a death trap. Commuters spend nights at times just to pass through Obajana. Obajana itself has become an environmental risk and eyesore. Not responsible Government could have kept quiet about Obajana Cement’s negative impact on the environment and society.
Calls for Peace
 Amid the hullabaloo, spirited efforts were made by concerned persons to halt the slide to anarchy. The gladiators were prevailed upon to sheath their swords and embrace dialogue.
The principal actors in the fight, Bello and Dangote, were invited by the Presidency to Abuja. Details of their meeting were sketchy.
 The disagreement also attracted the attention of the National Security Council when it met on Friday. Chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Council directed the immediate reopening of the company. It advised that all issues in contention be resolved legally, insisting the government is committed to providing jobs and enabling an environment for investors.
 The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, also called for caution on the dispute. National Chairman, NLC Comrade Ayuba Waba in a memo to the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, offered advice to the Federal government.
 “We write to bring to your esteemed attention the brewing industrial crisis at the facilities of Dangote Cement PLC occasioned by the recent alleged invasion of the premises of Dangote Cement Plant at Obajana by the Kogi State Government. The matter which resulted in a shootout and fatalities appears to be escalating with threats of the imminent shutdown of the Dangote Cement factory at Obajana.
 “We wish to sound the alarm that the threat of a shutdown of the cement plant if it happens will put thousands of jobs at the factory in great peril. Also, the livelihoods of thousands of individuals and families whose businesses are tied to the plant will be at great risk.
 “It is on this note that we urge the Federal Government to intervene in this matter to broker peace and calm. We also implore all parties to pursue dispute resolution  processes to settle contentious issues.”
 The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN also warned both parties to thread softly and allow saner counsel to reign. The calls were not in vain.
 A statement by Fanwo on Friday evening showed the government was considering legal options. The decision was taken at a marathon meeting that started Thursday night and ended on Friday morning.
“This struggle is not about Governor Yahaya Bello or his administration. It is about the people of Kogi State. In the last 72 hours, well-meaning Nigerians, leaders and government officials have waded in and have pleaded with the Governor to consider reopening the plant while discussions are ongoing.
 “The expectations of the over 4 million Kogites are clear and high and we want to assure them that the Governor and the Government of Kogi State will not compromise the interest of the people of the state to reclaim their rights in the cement company.
 “There were series of high-powered meetings to resolve the impasse, including meetings having the Governor and  Aliko Dangote in attendance. Discussions were held and statements of interest were established. But there was no agreement yet because some desperate parties are trying to promote in the media to mislead the public. We shall be non-violent in our approach as we are sure of green pathways to success for the people in this battle for the economic future of our dear state.
 “However, we maintain that the collective asset of the people of Kogi State must be protected and reclaimed in this instance. And that is the process the government has started. We will fight this battle to the end until we get justice from the courts. No committee can resolve this dispute,” the statement said.
Kogi Drags Dangote Group to Court
On Tuesday, the Kogi State Government started legal proceedings against Dangote. This is to reclaim ownership of former Obajana Cement Company which is now known as Dangote Cement Plc.
Chief Joseph Daudu, who is the Kogi State lawyer, instituted the case at the High Court of Kogi State, Lokojw.  Dangote Industries Limited is the sole defendant.
The major reliefs being sought in the Originating Summons include: “A declaration that Dangote Industries Limited cannot take any benefit, interest or rights from the incompetent agreements entered into on July 30, 2002 and February 14, 2003 respectively, having failed to furnish any consideration to the Kogi State government.
“An order nullifying the agreements entered into on July 30, 2002 and February 14, 2003 respectively, for lack of consideration.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining Dangote Industries Limited, any of its agents or assigns from further utilising and or taking any benefit(s) from the agreement dated July 30, 2002 and February 14, 2003 between the Kogi State government and Dangote Industries Limited.”
Specifically, the claimant is “seeking the nullification of the 2002 and 2003 agreement between it and Dangote group on the grounds that the agreement lacked clear consideration of what should pass from Dangote to the state.”
Who will win the war? For now, it is peace of the graveyard.

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