FG orders closure of Dangote, BUA mining sites in Edo
As crisis rages on between Dangote Group and his counterpart in the cement manufacturing sector, the BUA group over the mining rights for huge deposit of lime stone located at Obuh community, in Okpella, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo state, the Federal Government ordered all the parties involved to vacate the site.
The stern measure is to avert break down of law and order in the area in view of the growing tension among residents and security threats.
But the community leaders after hours of intensive meeti8ng with Governor Godwin Obaseki at the government house Benin,the state capital expressed worries over the development.
They accused the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals of causing the crisis by giving licenses to both Dangote and BUA groups who are locked in war over ownership of the controversial site to mine in the same location.
The community elders and leaders in company of their legal counsel urged both the Federal Government and the Edo state governments to urgently wade into the case and to find peaceful resolution to the crisis.
The people noted with deep concern that the escalation of the crisis would negatively affect both revenue and employment opportunities of youths from the community and her people.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting with Okpella Community leaders, Governor Godwin Obaseki disclosed the Federal government’s directive.
Obaseki noted that parties involved in the crisis are in court and therefore the Federal Government had decided that further mining in Obuh community be suspended to allow peaceful resolution of the crisis in court.
He said, “We are following the rule of law, there is a dispute, it is not unusual to have disputes over assets but they are laid down methods to resolving disputes of this nature.”
“What we understand as a government is that there is dispute or claim between two parties over an existing mining right and the mining act of 2007 is quite clear, the Federal Ministry of MInes decides on how to award or issue leases,” he stated.
“In this particular case, there are multiple claims and they have all gone to court. We have a letter from the Federal Ministry of Mines and power instructing that the party currently mining that particular site should vacate pending the outcome of the decision in court. So the position of Edo state government today is that court orders must be obeyed, Federal Government´s instruction should be obeyed, that mine should be shut until the outcome or the determination of the case in court¨ he explained.
Also, Counsel for Okpella community, Mr. Ayuba Giwa, said that “What we are saying in our response to the reference of the matter to the Presidency is that we blame the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals that they ought to be more prudent in granting mineral license. We employed all parties to abide by the rule of law and the rule of law includes the fact that in 1994, Okpella took this matter to the Federal High Court in Benin and judgment was given in favour of Okpella.”
He said, “When it donned on us that the Ministry was not complying with the judgment which was partly responsible for this debacle we are now. In 2014, Okpella went to the Federal High Court Benin, so it is not just only BUA and Dangote that is in court, Okpella is also in court. So it is fair and just that the matter is resolved including the interest of the community and Edo state because any breach of peace impacts on our people first and foremost and that is why we came to see Mr Governor¨ he added.