At least seven workers at Dangote’s cement plant in Obajana, Kogi State, were reportedly shot on Wednesday during a faceoff between the state’s security outfit and workers at the plant.
The incident occurred during what was described as an invasion of the company’s premises at the behest of the state government.
According to a statement by the General Manager, Corporate Communications at the Dangote Group, Sunday Esan, the vigilante group was led by the state Director-General of Lands, Commissioner for Solid Minerals, and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Commodore Jerry Omodara (rtd).
Others were: Chairman of Kabba/Bunnu LGA, Chairman of Ijumu LGA and the State ALGON Chairman, Alhaji Taofeek; Senior Special Assistant on Job Creation, Mr. Dele Iselewa, and Chairman of Lokoja LGA, Alhaji Mohammed Dansabe.
Reacting, the government of the state said the Kogi State House of Assembly ordered the company’s closure after its investigation into the cement factory’s operation allegedly revealed that no valid acquisition took place for the company.
The state House of Assembly alleged that Dangote, upon invitation by the Assembly, requested more time but did not appear at the House to show any evidence to the contrary.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Kingsley Fanwo, while addressing journalists, said that pursuant to the constitutional authorities of the Kogi State House of Assembly, and upon petition by the people of Kogi State, an investigation was carried out on the acquisition of Obajana Cement Company by Dangote Group.
“It was found that no valid acquisition took place, as Dangote could not show evidence of what was paid as consideration for the acquisition.
“The Legislators invited the Chairman of the Company, Aliko Dangote, before the house for explanations but he failed to appear before the state Assembly, giving excuses.
“The House of Assembly, therefore, ordered the company’s closure pending when they present it with credible evidence of a valid acquisition.”
The Director-General, Lands, Kogi State, Nasir Ochi, who also spoke, said, “In this regard, the security agencies were directed to give effect to the resolution. Similarly, the various organs of Government were also informed about this resolution.
“By law, Kogi State House of Assembly can conduct investigation, order anyone to appear before it or produce any document. Failure to obey such summons may lead to the arrest of a Person who failed to appear.
“The Government of the State has an obligation to also respect and give effect to such resolution from the House in the interest of peace and security of the State, and to avoid anarchy or breakdown of law and order.
“In this regard, Dangote has an obligation to respect and also give effect to the resolution of the Kogi State House of Assembly to avoid any act of lawlessness.”
Meanwhile, members of the mining and host communities have condemned the Kogi State Government for what they described as an extrajudicial and unlawful deployment of the vigilantes to cause chaos in the Obajana community.
Spokesman for the Oyo Mining host community, David Oluruntoba, was said to have condemned the act, stating the company had established a cordial relationship with the local community.
He said, “They called us to join them. But I told them that the company has not offended us. We just signed a Community Development Agreement (CDA) and the company has been helping us and providing us with jobs. What has the government done for us, nothing. There is no basis to support the government.”
Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, a communications personnel at Dangote Cement, Jibrin Abubakar, said the company’s workers who were shot during the invasion were currently receiving treatment at a medical facility.
Abubakar said, “They were hired by the government, the hunters. They are like the Amotekun of Kogi State. The workers that were shot are currently receiving medical treatment. We just hope that they survive. Some of the cases are very pathetic. We don’t know what will happen, but by the end of today or tomorrow, we should know how many of them survived.”