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BusinessDay

Shareholders berate Kogi State over ‘invasion’ of Dangote Cement plant

…seek FG’s urgent intervention

Group of Shareholders Associations in Nigeria have berated the government of Kogi over last week’s alleged invasion of Dangote Cement Plant, Obajana.

The shareholders also urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene and prevail on Kogi State to stop further harassment of investors in Kogi. They described as “barbaric” the use of “thugs to embarrass investors, such as meted out on Dangote Cement and other companies located in Kogi”, noting that such development will discourage local and foreign investments into the country.

Recall that persons suspected to be connected to Kogi State Government, last week, invaded Dangote Cement, Obajana plant and allegedly shot 27 staff and wounded some others.

Umar Faruk, president of the Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Shareholders, while speaking on the development criticised the state government for being insensitive to the populace, thousands of whom are dependent on the Dangote Obajana plant for livelihoods. He said it was unfortunate that someone who has championed investment worth billions of naira into in Nigeria was being treated this way.

He called on the Federal Government to “caution Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to be more civilised and professional in its dealing with investors in the state.”

According to him: “Why should the governor of a state in Nigeria, mobilised vigilantes to seal a publicly quoted company? The same governor did exactly the same thing to First Bank, making the bank close some of its branches in the state. Is that not executive rascality, using the state assembly to commit such an atrocious act?

“The Federal Government should swing into action by protecting investors, else, the efforts being made to attract both foreign and local investors will come to naught. I hope the state realises that Dangote Cement has foreign shareholders.”

Read also: Closure of Dangote Cement plant by Kogi Govt hasty – NACCIMA

In the same vein, founder of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) and president of Boys Brigade Nigeria (BBN), Sunny Nwosu said a “reasonable state government would have gone to court against any publicly quoted company rather than resort to a barbaric and ruthless method of chasing workers with guns and cutlass in the civilised age.”

“This action is bad and will smear the image of both the federal and state governments. It will also affect the ranking of ease of doing business in Nigeria. Kogi is blessed with so many natural resources, but with the attitude of this government, I doubt if any reasonable investor, either local or foreign, will want to do anything with the state anymore”

Bisi Bakare, president, Pragmatic Shareholders Association, said: “As an investor, we are not happy about the way things are going. If the state has problems with Dangote Cement on tax issues or any issue at all, there are a far better-civilised ways of handling it than sealing a factory that is contributing more than 30 percent of the cement Nigerians are consuming.

“The governor should realise that his position is transient and that the people of his state, whom he has deprived their livelihoods will always remember him for this.”

Recall that the organised private sector (OPS) operators under the aegis of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), last week, also condemned the ongoing spat between Dangote Cement and Kogi State which culminated in the closure of the Obajana plant of the cement company.