ABEOKUTA – Students of Ogun State origin in tertiary institutions across Nigeria have demanded immediate closure of Lafarge Cement plants in the state within 72 hours following its subsidiaries’ involvement in terrorism financing in Syria.
The students under the aegis of National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS), Progressive Students Movement (PSM NIG) and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), called on security agencies to urgently shut the Nigeria Branch of Lafarge in the state, pending the outcome of investigations into the allegation.
It was reported that the Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco of United States Department of Justice (DoJ) announced on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 that Lafarge had pleaded guilty to cconspiring to provide material support to foreign terrorist organisations – ISIS.
She also stated that in Justice Department’s first corporate material support for terrorism prosecution, Lafarge S.A. and its Syrian subsidiary admitted revenue-sharing agreement with ISIS and therefore, agreed to pay $778million in fines and forfeiture.
Lisa said, “Many companies made the right choice — the only lawful choice: to leave the region rather than join hands with the terrorists. Lafarge made a different decision: to go into business with ISIS and al-Nusrah — two of the world’s most notorious and brutal terrorist organizations.
“Between August 2013 and October 2014, Lafarge capitalized on the Islamic State’s iron grip and violent control of Syria to stifle its competition and increase its market share.
“Lafarge paid millions of dollars to both terrorist groups and benefited from their brutality to the tune of $70 million in revenue.
“Lafarge also hid its partnership with these terrorists through a web of fake contracts, falsified invoices, corrupt intermediaries, and off-system email accounts.
“As Deputy Attorney General and in my previous role as the President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, I have witnessed the unimaginable pain and suffering of American families whose loved ones were brutally murdered by ISIS.
“In the summer of 2014, the world watched in horror as ISIS murdered innocent journalists and aid workers. That same summer, Lafarge was in business with ISIS, securing profits and market share and capitalizing on the group’s brutality.
“Make no mistake: Lafarge and its leadership had every reason to know exactly with whom they were dealing – and they didn’t flinch. Instead, Lafarge forged ahead, working with ISIS to keep operations open, undercut competitors, and maximize revenue. And all the while, through their support and funding, Lafarge enabled the operations of a brutal terrorist organization.
“As also reflected in today’s guilty pleas, in one email, Lafarge Executives discussed how the company could “share the cake” with ISIS — with the “cake” a callous reference to the profits that Lafarge planned to reap from the illicit partnership.
“When Lafarge’s partnership with ISIS came to a close, the defendants moved to cover their tracks — but the investigation uncovered the emails Lafarge Executives tried to hide.
“Now, while the facts of this case may be extreme, they are instructive of the Department’s corporate crime priorities and what happens when companies and their Executives make the wrong choices,”
But reacting to the development on Thursday, October 21, 2022 in a release signed by Ogunrombi Leke (NAOSS Global President), Amb. Bestman Okereafor (President PSM Nig), Ekundina Elvis (NANS NAT DSP) and Kehinde Damilola Simeon (Chairman, NANS Ogun), the worried students said they were not unaware of the increasing level of insecurity in Ewekoro axis housing Lafarge Cement plant.
The students who expressed worries over the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes in Ewekoro axis, recalled that not too long ago, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly arrested a suspected Boko Haram leader in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.
They also expressed concern that ISIS presence had been confirmed in Nigeria, saying the latest news exposing Lafarge branch in another country fully sponsoring terrorist group should bother anybody.
They warned that If the company was not shut at the expiration of the 72hours ultimatum, Nigeria students woukd be forced to storm the company in their thousands to shut it by themselves.
Here is the Ogun State Students release in full:
“Our attention has been drawn to a news flying around and as widely reported on notable media platforms that the United States justice department in Brooklyn has fined Lafarge, a French cement company, with $778 million after pleading guilty to making payments to terrorists to retain its operations in Syria.
Info at our disposal further reveals this as the first time a company will be pleading guilty to charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization. According to further media info within our reach, it affirms that the Lafarge company admitted to the act at the federal court in Brooklyn, the United States and agreed to pay $778 million in forfeiture and fines, as part of the plea agreement.
Considering the above the Coalition of Nigerian Students Under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students NANS, Progressive Students Movement PSM NIG, and National Association Of Ogun State Students NAOSS, are calling on necessary security agents to as a matter of urgency shutdown the Nigeria Branch of Lafarge situated in Ogun State Nigeria , pending the outcome of investigations, we are not unaware of the increasing level of insecurity in the axis housing the company (Ewekoro) ranging from kidnapping, to armed robbery among others , not too long ago Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) have reportedly arrested a suspected Boko Haram leader in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
We are particularly concerned about our students in the axis housing the company( Ewekoro) because the same axis is housing an higher institution (DS Adegbenro ICT Poly) with thousands of students, in lieu of this we are demanding for an immediate shutdown of Lafarge company within the next 72hours from this release, pending the time investigation will be carried out considering how much risk , danger and harm sponsoring a terrorist group could do to Ogun state and Nigeria at large. We appreciate the company for the jobs created however the security of our constituents remains our top priority.
We are concerned about the fact ISIS presence have been confirmed in Nigeria, yet the news have exposed a Lafarge branch in another country fully sponsoring terrorist group, If the company is not shut down at the expiration of our 72hours ultimatum Nigeria students will be forced to move in our thousands to shut the company down as Nigerian Students in that axis have been living under high apprehension since the news of Lafarge sponsoring terrorist came out. For Lafarge SA and Lafarge Syria to have agreed and pledged guilty to funding and supporting a notorious terrorist group, what assurance do we have that the company in Nigeria is not doing same, hence the need for an immediate shutdown and investigation.
It is extremely important for security agents to rise up to this task because an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, we are not unaware that the said terrorists have sophisticated weapons that security agents in Nigeria do not have , this simply means they may decide to go on rampage anytime even as the 2023 general elections is fast approaching.
It is very disheartening that at a time when companies such as Dangote have been busy supporting security agents with mobility and logistics basically to combat crimes across the country, another is busy sponsoring terrorists, it is very disturbing and calls for immediate action.
Finally we are imploring the commissioner for industry, SA security, DSS, Nigeria Army and Police to as a matter of urgency swing into action in investigating the company in line with the building our future together agenda of Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Executive Governor of Ogun state. It should be specifically noted that we shall be mobilizing our battalions in our thousands to shutdown LAFARGE CEMENT In Ogun State if the company is not honorably shutdown in the next 72 hours.”