A Benue High Court has been told that Dangote Coal Mines has continued to grossly violate an order of the court thereby further endangering the lives of residents of the company’s host community, Akpali in Ugbokolo Ward of Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
The community, represented by its counsel, O. S. Oguche, Esq.; had told the court, presided over by His Lordship, Honourable Justice D.E. Igoh, that Dangote Coal Mines has continued to carry on with mining operation in gross violation of the order of the court which was granted in order to preserve the lives of residents of the community from the dangers posed to them by the mining activities of the company.
Justice Igoh had on September 10, 2020 in the suit No. OKP/HC/11/2020; given an order of interim injunction restraining Dangote Coal Mines Ltd from carrying out any mining activities, exploration in the territory or farmland of the plaintiffs as a result of the contamination of the communal source of water, River Umabe, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.
In the order, obtained by National Record, Justice Igoh had declared: “I find merit in the application which is granted as follows: An order of interim injunction shall be restraining the Defendant, his servants, agents, privies or any other person claiming through him, from carrying out any mining activities, exploration on the territory/farm lands of the plaintiffs which has caused contamination of the communal River…that serves several communities, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice…”
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Altercation as Dangote seeks to proceed with hearing of Motion
However, there was an altercation at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 between the parties when Dangote, represented by Rickey Tarfa (SAN), raised a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
The host community pleaded with the court not to grant audience to Dangote until it stops mining operation in line with the court’s order, stressing that the continuous strip mining by Dangote has endangered thousands of lives in the host community and beyond.
The community further stressed that as the court was sitting; the company was still engaged in mining and pleaded with the court to compel it to cease further activities until the determination of the matter.
The court however adjourned sitting to Monday, 19th October, 2020 for ruling on the defendant’s right to be listened to by the court, as a violator of its order.
Dangote’s serial disobedience of the court
National Record had reported three weeks ago on September 18, 2020 how Dangote was carrying on with mining activities despite the subsisting order of the court.
National Record also reported then the intensification of the pollution of Rivers Umabe and Okolo Stream on which several communities spread across four local government depend on for drinking and domestic as well as other uses.