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Seven workers allegedly shot as Kogi seals Dangote Factory at Obajana

By Ibrahim Obansa (Lokoja) and Morenikeji Showemimo (Lagos)
06 October 2022   |   4:08 am
Kogi State Government, yesterday, sealed Dangote Cement Factory, Obajana, following agitation by Kogi indigenes over what they termed questionable circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the company.

The vigilantes at the plant ..yesterday PHOTO: OBANSA IBRAHIM

Seven Dangote workers allegedly shot, others injured
Kogi State Government, yesterday, sealed Dangote Cement Factory, Obajana, following agitation by Kogi indigenes over what they termed questionable circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the company.

The Kogi State House of Assembly had ordered the closure of the company after its investigation revealed that the cement factory allegedly had no valid acquisition for the company.

Jubilant youths, who had trooped to the company on hearing the news of the closure, chased workers away but were stopped by Kogi officials, who promptly waded in to avoid damage.

The youths claimed that the Company had neglected the community while making billions, despite the fact that residents are dying from illness as a result of pollution.

The State House of Assembly alleged that Dangote, upon invitation by the Assembly, requested for 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, told newsmen 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 Company.

“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 closure of the company pending when they are able to present it with credible evidence of a valid acquisition.”

The Director-General, Lands, Kogi State, Nasir Ochi, who was also on ground, added, “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, the company reported that seven of its staff were allegedly shot with others injured, when over 500 armed members of the state’s security outfit, the Vigilantes, stormed the cement factory.

A staff of the company claimed that the action of the vigilantes in the early hours of yesterday, was at the instance of the state governor, Yahaya Bello.

Sealed Dangote Obajana plant

“At the main gate, disagreement ensued between the thugs and the few policemen guarding the plant, as they shot sporadically into the air to disperse staff and community members. By this time, the vigilantes had succeeded in locking both entrance and the exit gates of the company with many workers stranded,” he said.

Also, members of the mining and host communities have condemned the Kogi State Government for what they described as extra judicial and unlawful deployment of the Vigilantes to cause chaos in the Obajana community.

The vigilantes were allegedly led by the state Director-General of Lands; Commissioner for Solid Minerals, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security,  Commodore Jerry Omodara (rtd), Chairman of Kabba/Bunu council, Chairman of Ijumu council and the State ALGON Chairman, Alh. Taofeek; Senior Special Assistant on Job Creation, Mr. Dele Iselewa and Chairman of Lokoja council, Alh. Mohammed Dansabe.

It was learnt that members of the vigilante group wielded arms of different kinds, including local and assorted rifles as residents and passersby scamper for safety.

At press time, some seven staff of the cement company were being attended to at the hospital for alleged gunshot wounds inflicted on them.

A source, who identified some of the vigilante men as thugs, said most of them were drawn from state vigilantes and hunters who have been working for the state government.

Spokesperson for Oyo Mining host community, Mr. David Oluruntoba, described the act as primitive and disgraceful, saying the youths of the community can never be used, and will not take part in such ‘evil practices.

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 and providing us with jobs. What has the government done for us, nothing. There is no basis to support the government.”

Also, spokesperson for the Iwaa mining community, Rotimi Kekereowo said: “We would never support government on this matter. What have they done for us? We don’t have a single political appointment at the State level. Even when we had problems with electricity and flooding, it was Dangote that was helping us. So, I want to repeat it. We will never support them.”

Speaking also, the Olu of Akpata, Fredrick Balogun said he was never contacted and as such cannot justify the unwarranted invasion.

“We are royal fathers, and we will continue to seek the path of reconciliation and amicable resolution of any misunderstanding. We don’t have issues with the company,” he said.