Operations at our Benin City, Edo State Brewery, was disrupted on Thursday, 23 July 2015, by officials of Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo State, who mounted a blockade at the entrance to the brewery. The blockade stalled exit and entry into the premises for a few hours.
The contingent was led by Mrs. Itohan Ogbeide,Chairman, Ikpoba-Okha LGA, who addressed members of the media houses present and claimed that Guinness Nigeria have been obstructing the local government from collection of fees from third party logistics companies engaged in the provision of haulage services.
Mr. Kingsley Imade, the Plant Manager at the Brewery later held a meeting with Mrs. Ogbeide, following which the blockade was lifted and operations at the Brewery resumed. Before departing the brewery, Mrs. Ogbeide however issued an ultimatum to Guinness Nigeria to comply with her directive on or before Wednesday, 29 July 2015, or face further disruptions to its business operations.
On his part, Sesan Sobowale, Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Nigeria, said “We are taken aback by this unlawful disruption of our activities ostensibly to blackmail the company to assume the role of an agent for revenue collection from the logistics services providers. The blockade is also in violation of a subsisting court order restraining the local government from mounting blockades at our premises and demanding levies allegedly payable by these companies from Guinness Nigeria.
“Guinness Nigeria Plc is a responsible, law abiding corporate citizen and has operated its business peacefully for several decades in Benin City. While we continue to explore options for peaceful and legal resolution of this issue, we are also consulting our legal advisers to protect our business against further unlawful invasion of our business premises,” Sobowale said.
Sobowale added that “The invasion of our business premises which we witnessed yesterday has become recurrent, and we have had to call the attention of the Executive Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to this practice by Ikpoba Okha local government officials. The Comrade Governor was emphatic about the local government having no business blocking our business premises in a bid to collect third party levies. His Excellency acknowledged Guinness Nigeria as the second largest employer of labour in Edo State, after the state government, and a major private sector contributor to internally generated revenue.
“As a law abiding corporate citizen, Guinness Nigeria Plc hereby appeals to the leadership of the local government to act in compliance with applicable laws. We understandour responsibilities, and always act lawfully and with integrity in every aspect of our business. This same principle has guided all our engagements with the Ikpoba Okha LGAand we will advise the local government to engage directly with haulage service providers at their premises on any matters concerning them in compliance with all applicable laws.”