Disquiet in Benue over govt’s secret sale of State’s shares in Dangote Cement


There is considerable unease in Benue State over the sale of Dangote Cement shares held in trust for the indigenes by the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.

The sell-off, on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, has erased about 30 million shares, valued at over N7billion off the original over 90 million shares, which serves as portfolio investment for the state and the parastatals.

Sources however said that the government plans to sell all the shares, before the elections setting a target of N20 billion from the exercise, but if carried through, Benue State would have lost all the shares of its portfolio investment in the cement manufacturing conglomerate.

Investigation revealed that many Benue indigenes are taken aback by the government’s decision which they say is to deprive them of their priced investment in Dangote Cement.

Some top leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) queried the motive behind the sale and called on the state government to urgently clear the air over the development to avoid any untoward reaction from the people.

Besides the opposition, sources hinted that a considerable number of persons have continue to questioned the rationale behind the state government’s action, which they described as an attempt to deprive the people of what they termed, “this valuable investment,” at a time the company is doing well in the capital market.

They feared that if no action is taken to prevent the wholesale sale of the shares, the state would be the looser, since the proceeds so far realized have not been invested in any profitable venture, nor disclosed to the State House of Assembly for appropriation as required by law.

They cited the case of what transpired in Delta State where its shares in Airtel were surreptitiously disposed and the proceeds invested as private equity in the defunct Oceanic Bank.

“We suspect the state government is building a war chest for the 2015 elections by the surreptitious manner the shares are being sold. Otherwise, what stops it from informing the citizens of the state about it?

“Did the government obtain the consent of the State House of Assembly before selling the shares? Where is the money realized so far from the transaction kept? These and other pertinent questions will be asked by us, “an APC chieftain from the state said over the weekend.

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