The Federal Government has intervened in the raging dispute between the Kogi State Government and the Dangote Group.
What’s the dispute about?
The ownership of Dangote Cement Plc and the company’s alleged failure to pay taxes and other sums owed to the state government have been the subject of the lingering dispute between the two sides. Bringing things to a head last Wednesday, the Kogi State government sealed Dangote Cement’s factory in Obajana over allegations of tax evasion and equity ownership .i.e Dangote Cement has illegally assumed 100% ownership of the factory, thereby denying the state government its fair share. During the operation, several Dangote Cement employees were reported to have been shot with firearms.
How did they get to this point?
On his part, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello explained that the state government was forced to take decisive actions due to Dangote Cement Plc’s unwillingness to resolve the dispute amicably. Bello said that the state government had attempted to meet with the management of Dangote Cement for almost six years but had been unsuccessful. “We received several petitions from the general public about this particular subject matter. This is about five to six years now. And all efforts to sit down with the proprietor of Dangote conglomerate failed”, he said.
How’s the FG intervening?
The FG has urged both parties to explore the legal option for resolution. The Kogi state government’s handling of the crisis, according to the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, has the potential to undermine investor confidence in the Nigerian economy and cast doubt on the federal government’s efforts to promote ease of doing business in Nigeria. “The view of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment are basically that if there is a dispute between a state government and any industry within the state, we have the courts of law to deal with the issue”, Adebayo said.
A senior management staff of the company, who said the company would be seeking redress in court, dismissed the government’s claim that the company owed taxes. According to the official, in addition to billions of naira spent on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the local community, the company pays more than N1b as PAYE to the government. “So the claim that we owe is false and the evidence is there”, the official said.