Savannah Sugar Company closes over security threat

The management of Savannah Sugar Company Numan, a subsidiary of the Dangote group, has shut down the business indefinitely over security threats to its operation by the host community.

Ibrahim Bio, human resource manager, who confirmed the closure, blamed it on security threats being faced by the company staff from its casual workers.

The company has been at the centre of an intractable crisis arising following its takeover by the Dangote group nine years after its privatisation.

Although the new owners have gone far in resuscitating its operations, the company is faced with challenges of from a restive labour force which has staged series of protest to force the company to drop its policy of casualisation and regularise the employment of its casual workers, most of whom are from the host community.

But the company has refused to yield to the workers’ demand, saying it is financially unsustainable to give employment to the over 5000 workers, especially when their work is seasonal.

Tied to the current spat between the sugar company and its host community is also the demand for compensation by the host community arising from the takeover of their farmlands for sugarcane plantation.

Following recent inability by the community to get the N400 million it was seeking, the paramount ruler of the area, the Hama Bachama Asaph Zadok withdrew guarantee of safety of the investment of the company.

Mr Zadok, who has been unrelenting in his fight to seek compensations to his subjects denied them since opening of the company in 1975, has pursued the vexed compensation matter since ascending the stool as the Hama Bachama in 2003.

Acts of sabotage

The Dangote group has insisted that the compensation being sought by the community should be the responsibility of the Adamawa State government. But the state government says the issue of compensation has been settled way back in 1975.

In announcing the closure, Mr Bio said the company is closing down its operations because of the threats from the casual workers. He said several mishaps within the company premises were beginning look like “sabotage”.

“The company would remain closed until the security situation was addressed,” he said.
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