By Ekemini Simon
In part 4 of this report, TheMail investigates a deal that has cost the people of Mfamosing millions of dollars and retrogression. It involves both the State, Federal Government and Lafarge Africa, a subsidiary of Holcim Limited, a major multinational limestone company.
More Concerns on employment, Livelihood
Besides social concerns for the community, the people of Mfamosing alleged that Lafarge has shattered their livelihood even as they are not part of the Lafarge workforce. The community notes that Lafarge could only employ one staff within the six host communities.
“Even as we speak now, we don’t have even one staff in the company from Abiati, which I hail from. Among all the host communities, only one man called Linus from Mfamosing is a staff. A few of us working there are serving on a contract basis and on menial jobs.” Says Raphael Effiong. Effiong’s claim is corroborated by the Paramount Ruler of Akamkpa, Mfam Clement Emayip.
Yet, even though members of the community are not employed, artisanal mining would have sustained them. According to Mfamosing people, before Lafarge berthed their land, they had livelihood in the small-scale mining of limestone but this was not to continue when they made an attempt to get a working license to continue with their level of operation. According to them, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development denied them the opportunity, saying that Lafarge owns the entire mining sites at Mfamosing.
” Our people who used to carry out small-scale mining are no longer allowed to mine. Lafarge has taken over the entire place. You can imagine looking for a new means of livelihood at old age. We have gained nothing from Lafarge. They should go to where they came from before they totally ruin us to the ground,” says the Paramount Ruler.
When TheMail Newspaper asked to know through FOI request the number of Lafarge staff who are Mfamosing indigenes and the mining area approved for Lafarge, the company did not respond. Employment opportunities for the host communities are among the issues addressed by the Community Development Agreement.
Host Community in the Dark over mining Agreements and Quantum of Extraction
The people of Mfamosing say they have no access to contract documents signed between the government and the company which would help them understand the boundaries of Lafarge operations, their rights and privileges, and obligations to the government and Lafarge.
They equally note that they are not aware of the actual quantity of mineral resources extracted in their domain and the kind of mineral resources Lafarge has approval to mine.
Abimfam community secretary notes ” According to the news we heard from Lafarge, it was 200 trucks a day and each truck carries 800 bags of cement. But since we don’t have community members working there, we can’t verify their claims.”
Yet, community members report that the number of trucks they see move out from the company per day exceeds Lafarge’s claims to them. TheMail Newspaper in its FOI request to the company had applied for information on the tonnes of limestone extracted and quantity of cement produced by the company between 2010 and 2020. This was not responded to.
What is more, the people of Mfamosing are not also aware if Lafarge was recently granted a license to add iron ore mining to the portfolio of the minerals extracted in their territory. Mfamosing which is also rich in large reserves of iron ore has witnessed heavy trucks and machines from the Lafarge facility carry out surface mining of the iron ore.
However, when our reporter visited the community in December 2021, he could not ascertain the actual company mining of the Iron ore. However, our reporter traced the vehicles with the ore to Lafarge’s facility.
In the 2003 Deed of Lease between Lafarge and the community, the company agreed to mine only limestone. In an FOI request to Lafarge and Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, TheMail Newspaper had sought to know the solid minerals covered by Lafarge’s mining lease in Mfamosing.
This was not responded to despite acknowledgement. Yet, checks into the mineral production statistics report of 2019 and 2020 as published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), records iron ore among the minerals mined in Cross River State.
In 2019, 43,380 tonnes were recorded as being extracted. However, no amount of tonne was reported in 2020 although the people of Mfamosing reported that the extraction of this mineral went on in 2020. The reported tonnes in 2019 suggest that the extraction of this mineral may have gotten the approval of the government.
Lafarge’s Multi-Billion Naira Profit in Business
While Mfamosing community continues to live out their lives in abject poverty despite laying the golden eggs for Lafarge and the government, the cement giant has been on a rampaging march to generate billions of naira through Mfamosing’s resources.
For instance, the 2021 audited financial statement of Lafarge Africa shows that last year, the company made the highest profit in a decade. The statement notes that in 2021, the company’s revenue rose to N291.1 billion from N230.6 billion in 2020. Interestingly, Lafarge’s profit after tax rose to N51 billion which is 60.5 per cent surge of the N30.84 billion made in 2020.
The audited report states that the issued and fully paid-up share capital for substantial shareholders as of December 31, 2021, was 16,107,795, 721 ordinary shares of 50k each.
Unsurprisingly, Lafarge’s 63 years of doing business in Nigeria has earned her multi-billion naira net worth.
According to the 2021 Annual Report of the parent company, Holcim, the net worth of Lafarge Africa PLC in Nigeria as of December 31, 2021, is N385.78 billion.
The People Behind Lafarge Africa
While members of Mfamosing community suffer from the hazards of limestone extraction in their community even as they complain of being short-changed socially and economically from Lafarge mining operations, there are people who enjoy dividends of the extractive operations in Mfamosing and they are far off the radar of the perils. These persons are the beneficial owners, minor shareholders and directors of Lafarge Africa PLC.
Checks into Lafarge Africa PLC 2021 audited financial statements and the 2020 annual report reveal five categories of shareholders of the company. They are; Caricement BV, Associated Int. Cements Ltd U.K, Stanbic IBTC Nominees Limited, Odua Investment Company Limited and “other Shareholders”.
Stanbic IBTC Nominees Limited holds 1.56 per cent of N251.55 million shares. Findings show that the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.
Also, Odua Investment Company Limited holds 2.26 per cent share of N364.62 Million. Checks into the company’s official website reveal that the company is owned by the government of the six South-Western States of Nigeria but run by an independent board of directors.
An extensive search into the company’s information base shows that Segun Aina is the Chairman of the company while Adewale Raji is the Group Managing Director. Other directors are Chief Segun Ojo,Seni Adio, Tola Kasali, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, Segun Olujobi, Otunba Adebola Osibogun, Folusho Olaiyan, Adekemi Ajayi and Olugbolahan Mark-George.
Those tagged as “other shareholders” with 12.36 per cent shares of N1.99 billion are made up of those who bought the company’s shares from the Nigerian stock market.
However, the above three categories are minor shareholders of the company. Section 120 (2) of the Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, gives insight into the powers the last two that would be mentioned wield.” A person is a substantial shareholder in a public company if he holds himself or by his nominee, shares in the company which entitle him to exercise at least 5% of the unrestricted voting rights at any general meeting of the company”.
Interestingly, Caricement BV holds 56.04 per cent shareholding of N9.03 billion while Associated Int. Cements Ltd U.K holds 27.77 per cent shareholding of N4.47 billion. Lafarge’s 2020 Annual report notes that these two companies which jointly hold 83.81 shares of the company are subsidiaries of Holcim, the parent company of Lafarge Africa. Thus, considering the provisions of CAMA, the only entity with at least 5 per cent voting rights is Holcim. Their two subsidiaries make them the substantial shareholder or otherwise referred to as the beneficial owners of Lafarge Africa.
Who then are the faces behind Holcim?
The 2021 annual report of Holcim shows that there are 13 beneficial owners of the company. They are the Board of Directors. These Directors are Beat Hess, Dieter Spãlti, Oscar Fanjul, Philippe Block, Kim Fausing, Jan Jenisch, Colin Hall, Patrick Kron, Naina Lai Kidwai, Adrian Loader, Jurg Oleas, Claudia Sender Ramirez and Hanne Sorensen.
Among them, six persons stand out with the highest share of the total 630,389 shares of the company. Jan Jenisch, a German national who joined Holcim in 2017 is the Chief Executive Officer of the company. He owns 400,000 shares of Holcim. Beat Hess a Swiss national elected to the Board of Directors of Holcim in 2010 is the Chairperson of the company and owns 100,510 shares. Dieter Spãlti also a Swiss national elected to the Board of Directors in 2003 is the Vice-chairperson of the company and holds 58,653 shares.
Adrian Loader a British national elected to the Board of Directors in 2006 holds 25,527 shares. Hanne Sorensen, Danish national elected to the Board of Directors in 2013 has 15,124 shares while Jurg Oleas a Swiss national elected to the Board of Directors in 2014 holds 11,594 shares.
However, these 13 persons do not run proceedings directly from the company’s headquarters in Switzerland. They have men who manage their business interest in Nigeria.
Analysis of the 2021 financial statements of Lafarge Africa coupled with the 2020 annual report of the company reveals seven Nigerians and nine foreign nationals who are representing the interest of the parent company in Nigeria.
The Nigerians are Mrs. Elenda Giwa-Amu, who holds the only company’s share of 203,550, Mr. Mobalaji Balogun, Mr. Adebode Adefioye, Mr. Lolu Alade-Akinyemi, Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, and Mrs Oyinkan Adewale.
The Foreign directors are Mr. Khaled Abdel Aziz El-Dokani who is the Group Managing Director and Country Chief Executive Officer (Egyptian), Mr. Grant Earnshaw (British), Mrs. Karine Uzan Mercie (French), Mr. Jean-Philippe Benard (French), Mr. Christof Hassig (Swiss), Mr. Marco Licata (Italian), Mr. Rossen Papazov (Bulgarian), Mr. Oliver Guitton (French) and Mrs. Virginie Darbo (French).
Interestingly, most of the Directors in the company including the Nigerian nationals have business concerns outside the country which should make them understand international best practices in a given business environment.
Checks at Dato Capital, an open portal that enables search on international private companies and directors coupled with Lafarge’s 2020 annual report gave deeper insight.
Documents revealed that Lolu Alade-Akinyemi a certified accountant with over 20 years of experience was appointed a director in two companies at Windsor and Maidenhead, the United Kingdom on April 11, 2007. He also served in top leadership at Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Ghana, London, and Belgium.
Adebode Adefioye who is the Chairman of Lafarge Africa is a director in a company in the United Kingdom. He also holds positions as a Chemist and secretary. Adefioye also sits on the board of a number of companies, both private and publicly quoted in Nigeria, including Eterna PLC and Wema Bank PLC.
Mrs. Elenda Ohirenua Francesca Giwa-Amu who was the Acting Managing Director of Cross River State Tourism Bureau and Executive Secretary of Cross River State Carnival Commission was appointed a director in a company in Essex, United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Oyinkansade Adewale is also a company director in the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Adenike Morenike Ogunlesi, was appointed as a secretary of a company on April 19, 2005 in Harrow, United Kingdom while Gbenga Oyebode was re-elected as a Company Administrator in May 2017 at Luxembourg.
Some of the foreign Directors of Lafarge Africa also have experience in other countries. For instance, documents gathered shows that Mr. Grant Watson Earnshaw who had served as CEO of Lafarge Iraq and Managing Director of Lafarge Middle East is a director in a company in Nottingham, United Kingdom. Earnshaw was appointed as a shareholder in the company on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, and is an individual with 25-50% of voting rights coupled with the right to appoint and remove directors.
For Mrs. Karine Uzan Mercie, she has held various leadership position in Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. Atlanta U.S.A . She has also served as Vice President, Corporate Initiatives, Group Head of Tax, Treasurer Europe and Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication, France. Mercie was appointed in June 2008 as Director at Gemeente Breda province in the Netherlands but resigned in March 2011. Also, in Luxembourg, she was mentioned as a related person to a company director in May, 2014, October 2015 and July 2016. In August 2017, she resigned as administrator in one of the companies.
Mr. Marco Licata before becoming the general counsel for the Middle East and Africa Region at Lafarge Holcim in Zug, Switzerland, he had served as General Counsel at Onshore Wind for General Electricity in New York, U.S.A, same position at Renewable Power for Alstom in Paris France, Barcelona Spain and Milan Italy.
CSO recommends Solution to Mfamosing’s Resource Curse
A non-governmental organisation, Justice Development and Peace (JDC) Caritas, has said that it is an act of injustice for the government of Cross River State not to use the resources gained from Mfamosing for its development.
The organisation, which is familiar with the situation in Mfamosing, noted that it is troubling that the government has abdicated their responsibility of providing social and economic welfare to Lafarge.
In an interview with the organisation’s lead, Williams Itorok, he stated, “The resources are not used for the benefit of the community. Even when royalties and taxes gotten from Mfamosing are paid to the government coffers, priority is not given to the community. The roads are deplorable.
“The government just collects the money and moves away leaving their social and economic responsibility to the company. This robs the community. Having depleted the resources of the community, there is nothing done to replace it or rebuild the community after the extraction for the past years.”
He explained that the depletion of the resources of the community means that there is a need to replace it with some other thing. The organisation lead pointed out that as an agrarian community, the government should understand that the extraction is pushing people away from agriculture hence it is government responsibility to provide alternatives for them.
Commenting on the benefits that should come from Lafarge, Itorok said the root to addressing the problem begins with the community having an effective committee that would interface with the company to have insight into the level of mineral production thus be able to determine what should come to the community.
He recommended that the company on their part have to be transparent as that will reduce restiveness since the community will know what is going out and what will be coming to them.
The JDC lead called on Lafarge to fast track the availability of Community Development Agreement as provided by law instead of corporate social responsibility which is usually voluntary.
*This investigation republished from TheMail is supported by Policy Alert with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)*