[dropcap]A[/dropcap] federal Hight Court Judge has vowed to lock up Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Kayode Fayemi, for interfering with court process in the mining dispute between BUA and Dangote group.
The federal Judge at the High Court in Benin, said he was alarmed at the behaviour of the minister and would use jail sentences to restore peace and some sense of semblance of civilization, according to court transcripts obtained by Per Second News.
In the suit N0. FHC/BCS/72016: BUA International Limited & ANOR VS HMMSD & 5 ORS, the court expressed its dissatisfaction over the conduct of the ministry of mines in meddling with the subject matter of the suit and threatened to commit the minister to prison if he does not desist from further interference with BUA’s mining rights.
The judge was infuriated that the minister through the ministry wrote a ‘Stop Work Order’ letter to the BUA group to stop mining at the contentious site, despite ongoing court process and a ‘status quo’ order issued by the court.
The ministry was accused of disrespecting the court by invading the mining site occupied by the BUA group with armed policemen in a bid to enforce its stop work order letter.
The judge enraged with the ministry’s action threatened that if by the next adjourned date the minister did not stop interfering with BUA group mining rights, the court would be minded to invoke its disciplinary power to stop the ministry.
The ruling Atta Omadivi Family of Okene in Kogi State, also has accused the ministry of Mines under Fayemi of bias in the matter. The family described the publication of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development bequeathing the contentious Mining Lease ML 2541 to Dangote Group as a ‘reflection of desperate, reckless, irresponsible and partisan conduct of the ministry’ which has continued to flout all court injunctions related to the contentious lease.
In a letter from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development with Reference number: MMSD/MID/OP/RS.71/1/ and addressed to BUA’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the ministry ordered the BUA group to vacate the mining site.
The ministry has been accused of instigating cycle of harassment and clandestine moves to usurp the powers of the courts and disrupt operations at the mining site in clear disregard of existing court directives.
In court transcripts cited by Per Second News, Dangote’s group lawyers agreed on the need for parties not to interfere with the subject matter of the pending suit, corroborating our earlier report that the group in a document to the Nigeria Stock Exchange, NSE, dated 19th December, 2017, and signed by Dangote’s company secretary, Mahmud Kazaure, said that the disputes shall be resolved by the courts in accordance with their role under the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The court adjourned dates in the suit to 30 and 31 January, 13, 14, 27 and 28 February and 14 March, 2018, while the court said the BUA group should be left to continue mining on the sites, pending hearing of the substantive suits.