... Always Staying on Top of The News

Revealed: Why Kogi State closed Dangote’s biggest cement plant for pillaging state resources: Inside stories of tax evasion, underhand payments, corrupt enrichment and fake documents


President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote

By Abubakar James

When the Olusegun Obasanjo government sold Obajana Cement to Aliko Dangote in 2003, the Kogi State government retained 10% of the equity in the company which was to later become the largest cement asset in Dangote Cement, Nigeria’s largest listed manufacturing company. Now the Kogi state Government is levelling serious allegations of impropriety against the company even going further to shut down the company’s locations in Kogi State.
The Kogi State House of Assembly claims that based on a recent investigation, no valid acquisition took place for the Obajana Cement Company. They premised this allegation on the fact that the state was not paid for its holdings in the company neither has it received any dividends for its 10% equity in the company now worth about 16.5billion dollars.
A state government official is alleged to have said that upon the so-called acquisition of the company, Dangote Cement was meant to pay the state government for its 10% equity but never did. Instead, in a show of open corruption, the company paid the then governor, Prince Abubakar Audu, a tidy sum to turn its face the other way and prevent it from paying the state for its 10% equity in the factory. Then the state permitted all its assists including its coal mines which were not part of the acquisition and from which the factory mines the coal used to for power. These mines which Prince Audu transferred to Dangote were not a part of the acquisition and also not part of the state’s 10%. Whilst Dangote Cement continues to claim it has paid for the state’s equity, the company was unable to produce any valid document showing the transaction ever occurred and instead rebuffed every attempt over several months by the State House of Assembly’s investigation panel to appear before it.
Now, the Yahaya Bello government is seeking reparations both for the 10% stake and its coal mines which are being exploited without any benefit to the state. The state insists that the transaction was never concluded since there is no documented evidence or financial transaction that shows it ever received any payment for its equity stake in the company. “it is a shame that nothing has been gained by the state since the acquisition of the company. Not from our mines which are still owned 100% by the state but transferred to the company nor for our 10% stake in the company which has been forcefully taken through fraudulent means. This is very bad and highly unethical for a company that is listed on the Nigerian exchange,” said the official under conditions of anonymity. The State has therefore requested that Dangote Cement pays to the coffers of the state, the equivalent of its equity which was never paid for, or invite independent valuers to determine the amount to be paid at today’s rate amounting to over $500million. Investigations have now revealed that Dangote has sought the assistance of several bigwigs across the country to force the Governor Yahaya bello administration to drop its action against the company but the governor is said to refuse to budge repeatedly saying
“this is not his money but the state’s money”. In fact, all the coal mines that were taken over belonging to kogi state and was handed over to Obajana worth billions of Naira is not yielding any benefits for the state.
Will there be any end to this anytime soon? It should be noted that Dangote is currently facing various pressures due to the non-completion of his refinery and petrochemicals complex and is facing an acquisition by oil majors as banks are currently unwilling to refinance the loan.
This recent demand by the Kogi State government will add additional financial pressures on the company which it may be unable to pay anytime soon.
James writes from Lokoja

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.