In a recent 7-page editorial, Aliko Dangote, the chairman of Dangote Group, accused BUA of blackmail and sabotage. BUA has now responded to these allegations, providing a detailed account of several instances where they believe Dangote has tried to drive them out of business.
BUA claims that Dangote’s first attempt to sabotage them was in 1991, when he issued a bounced cheque for sugar that he had purchased from the company. This led to BUA’s assets being frozen for three months, a period during which the company nearly went bankrupt.
A few years later, BUA leased land from Aliko Dangote’s uncle, Usman Dantata, to build a sugar refinery. However, Dangote reportedly persuaded former President Olusegun Obasanjo to revoke the lease and grant it to Dangote instead. BUA was given only 24 hours to vacate the land, and it took them over a year to secure a new location.
In 2007, under President Umaru Yar’Adua, BUA was one of six companies granted licenses to build cement plants in Nigeria. To expedite production, BUA imported a floating cement terminal called BUA Cement I. However, Dangote reportedly pressured the government to prevent BUA from docking the terminal in Lagos. BUA was eventually allowed to berth the terminal in Port Harcourt, but Dangote’s brother, Orwell Brown, a Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration, attempted to deport the entire expatriate crew. The intervention of President Yar’Adua was required to prevent this from happening.
BUA also claims that Dangote has tried to sabotage their operations in Edo State and Port Harcourt. In Edo State, Dangote reportedly pressured Governor Godwin Obaseki to shut down BUA’s cement plant. Obaseki initially complied, but President Muhammadu Buhari intervened and ordered the plant to be reopened.
In Port Harcourt, Dangote reportedly tried to have the terminal that BUA uses to import sugar taken away from them. Again, the intervention of the presidency was required to prevent this from happening.
BUA denies all of Dangote’s allegations of blackmail and sabotage. The company says that it has a long history of innovation and integrity, and that it has contributed to the Nigerian economy without resorting to subterfuge. BUA calls on Dangote to “build, not belittle” and to “cultivate, not conquer.”