ABOUT seven workers of the Dangote Cement Factory at Obajana, Kogi State have reportedly been shot and others injured, when over 500 allegedly armed members of the state’s security outfit, the Vigilantes, stormed the cement plant Wednesday morning.
The Vigilantes were said to have been directed by the state’s authorities to shut down the factory shortly after an order by the State House of Assembly do so.
Among top government officials said to have led the vigilantes were 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, Alhaji Taofeek; Senior Special Assistant on Job Creation, Mr. Dele Iselewa and Chairman of Lokoja council, Alhaji Mohammed Dansabe.
The Guardian quoted an unnamed staff of Dangote Cement at Obajana to have stated that the fracas followed a disagreement between thugs and the few policemen guarding the factory. “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,” the staff reported said.
The Kogi State House of Assembly had ordered the closure of the company following its investigation which revealed that the cement factory was not validly acquired by Dangote Cement.
Indigenes of the state have for some time now called for revocation of the sale of the factory to Dangote Group over what they termed questionable circumstances surrounding the acquisition of 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 into stop them to avoid destruction of the facility.
The youths claim that despite making billions of naira from the facility, the company still neglected the host community and its indigenes, many of whom they claim are dying from illness as a result of environmental pollution.
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.”