Mixed reactions have continued to trail vandalization, stripping and
sales of assets belonging to the defunct Delta Steel Company (DSC), in
Ovwian-Aladja communities of Udu local government area of Delta State,
by the new management of Premium Steel and Mines Limited, said to have
taken over the DSC.

It was gathered that various assets in the steel complex and housing
estates were being sold to the public while used vehicles and
heavy-duty machines were scrapped for sale by the new management of
Premium Steel and Mines Limited.

Reacting to development, President of Udu Youth Progressive Union,
Freedom Ovwemejepha, said, "There's no gainsaying the fact that the
whole essence of privatizing DSC as with other privatized erstwhile
government establishments was to reinvent the wheel by making it work
again and perhaps even better than when it was operated under
government's control and ownership.

"That was our expectations as the host communities. We envisaged a
scenario where our restive youths will once again be gainfully
employed in a steel complex that will not only be functional but
operating at full capacity to meet the competitive demands of its
products. Rather than revamp the steel complex. The company embarked
on large scale assets stripping exercise against the spirit of the
transaction. This malpractice continued unabated until Assets
Management Corporation of Nigeria took over DSC and sold it to the
present owners."

He added, "Even though the host communities were never consulted, we
expected that the present owners should, in line with international
best practices, engaged the host communities in order to achieve our
mutual expectations. However, what we are experiencing presently is
absolutely unacceptable to any civilized community. We have clear
proof that the present owners are engaging in serious malpractices
which include but are not limited to assets stripping, cannibalizing
the pieces of machinery."

Speaking in a similar vein, Jefia Dede, the union's scribe, stated,
"We are reliably informed that Premium Steel and Mines Limited has
already sold the DSC Model School II. Taking over of local schools,
sending our children out of school and carrying out their activities
with great impunity to the detriment of the host communities. Our
letter to AMCON to determine the scope of the transaction with Premium
Steel and Mines Limited got no response.

"We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our commonwealth been
treated with impunity. We wish to reiterate our non-negotiable stand
to only support genuine investors that will ensure the resuscitation
of DSC plant built at enormous cost to the nation. The act of Premium
Steel and Mines Limited that recently stripped and sold off all
electricity transformers at permanent camp steel town II, vandalized
the telephone station at camp extension, removed all storage tanks and
took over the technical high school account were more ploy to size the
camp extension."

On his part, the Delta State chairman of the Committee for the Defence
of Human Rights (CDHR), Kehinde Taiga, said, "I will tell you that
Premium Steel company that took over the DSC are criminals. Not quite
long, some months ago, two trailers were arrested and were taken to
Ovwian division with some equipment of DSC to be sold out.

"They came to DSC to operate, they never bargained for the assets of
DSC. They were brought in to revive DSC and start operation, not to
sell the properties of DSC. What they are doing is against the
agreement they signed between with the federal government."

In a petition titled, 'Stop the sales/Assets Stripping of DSC
Properties (used vehicles/heavy duties) and others now',  addressed to
the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Premium Steel and Mines
Limited, signed by Matthew Uparan, President General, Ovwian
community, Ellas Dogene, President General, Aladja community, Emmanuel
Kpomalefe, President General, Ekete community, Victor Maveruo,
President-General, Orhuwhorun community, copied the state governor,
Ifeanyi Okowa, and obtained by our correspondent, called for the state
government's quick intervention.

Meanwhile, the General Manager, of Premium Steel and Mines Limited
(PSML), Samuel Tanno, has debunked the allegations levelled against
the company.

"Premium Steel is doing all these to have access to international
bodies to help us push out our products. We discovered that the local
market is getting very terrible and competitive. And if you are aware,
about nine firms have closed up in Lagos. The steel industry globally
is undergoing terrible times. We have taken a vow on our part and we
are not looking back. What is happening in the global steel market is
enough for one to pack out of the market.

"Yes, a lot has been said about asset stripping. Well if I own a
property, and I am doing systematic replacement of those properties, I
do not see why somebody should tell me am stripping assets. If
something is no longer useful, I don’t know whether one can call it an
asset. An asset is something valuable which I must keep either for
future or immediate use.

“If it is no longer useful I wouldn’t call it an asset. We have some
old trucks, somebody is telling me I should refurbish them, I said no
I don’t want to refurbish them but I want to buy new ones. What is
wrong with buying new ones and selling out the old ones? We removed
all of them and replaced them," Tanno said.

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