The conflict between the Kogi State government and the Dangote Group over the ownership of Obajana cement took a new turn in the early hours of Tuesday, when citizens of the state occupied all mining sites across the state to express their plight over alleged exploitation by the Dangote Group.
This comes just hours after it was reported that the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, were meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the matter.
Massive crowds gathered with various placard inscriptions urging the state and federal governments to press Dangote Group for justice. Despite the fact that the protesters were not violent, trading activities in various areas have been halted.
The protest is happening at Obajana, Ankpa and other areas.
Protesters are urging the state not to back diwn until the state recovers Obajana Cement, the largest cement plant in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Recall that the state government sealed off the cement factory last week, claiming ownership of the company due to breech of contractual agreements and non involvement of the State Assembly. Meanwhile, Dangote Group has responded that it owns the entire company.
According to the report of a Committee of Inquiry set up by the state government, documents show that the agreements entered into between Dangote Group and the previous government in 2002/2003 are invalid. According to the government, the State Assembly was not involved in the negotiations.
The government’s statement noted that Dangote Group has even failed to meet the terms of the agreement. It was stated that 90% of the shares were transferred to Dangote Group, with the remaining 10% reserved for the government and citizens.
Though the state government has stated that it is open to negotiation, the citizens seemed adamant through the protests that there is no point in negotiating. The protesters, some of whom were crying, claimed that Dangote Group had wreaked havoc on their lands. They claimed that Dangote trailers kill their people almost every day, and that mining operations leave them with errosions that take their lands and endanger their lives.
They are urging all international organizations to assist the state government in obtaining justice for the people. They have also vowed that they will continue the protests until justice is done.