Drama as Premium Steel staff walk out on reps during probe of company


It was a dramatic Monday at the House of Representatives as staff of Premium Steel and Mines Limited (PSML) walked out on lawmakers during a probe into alleged mismanagement of the company.


The house committee on steel is investigating the collapse of the Delta Steel Company (DSC) in Udu, Delta state.


In 2019, the lower legislative chamber mandated the committee to investigate the collapse of the company said to have been built with the sum of $1.89 billion in 1982 and was handed over to PSML after it was privatised in 2005.


Speaking during the public hearing on Monday, Jite Brown, chairman of Udu LGA, Delta state, said PSML is incapable of managing the company.


He accused PSML of looting and vandalising equipment in the facility.


“We have all the pictures of the arrests we have made and other investigations,” he said.


“We have called several security meetings to address the residents and Premium Steel. The only response we get from them is that they don’t have any obligation with the government; that they only have business with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and AMCON has given them all the right to do all what they are doing.


 “We want this committee to revoke the sale of DSC. They can’t handle the company; the company is dying.”


But Albert Anozie, who represented AMCON, denied the involvement of the agency in the collapse of the company.


“AMCON came into the picture as a result of a loan. AMCON was created to resolve all outstanding loans and one of the loans was that which has to do with Delta Steel Company,” Anozie said.


“We took over the asset that was charged to the loan that was borrowed and as a result of that, we realised the loan that was taken.


“AMCON did not take over the running of and management of Delta Steel. Whatever transpired beyond the loan, beyond the assets that were charged beyond the various banks, we cannot say anything about that.


“What we took over was the asset that was charged to the loan which the banks gave to the company.”


Also speaking, Uche Ogah, minister of state for mines and steel development, said the ministry was not carried along when the privatisation was done.


“I believe that one of the things we are doing here today is to investigate to know the reasons. First, what led to the collapse of DSC? Two, the process of sales and three, the continuity — the growing concern of the business,” he said.


 “So, for us at the ministry, when all the assets were transferred to BPE, we have little or nothing; we were not carried along. So, we may not have much to say.”


When PSML was asked to make its presentation, the leader of the delegation who introduced himself as a lawyer, refused to be put on oath.


The committee subsequently prevented him from speaking and demanded that the managing director of the company should appear instead.


At this point, the staff of PSML led by the counsel staged a walkout.


Infuriated by the development, the representatives of the host community started protesting in the hall and described the action as an “insult”.


The fierce argument continue for about five minutes before relative calm returned.


After the drama, Abdullahi Ali, chairman of the committee, described the walkout as “criminal behaviour”.


He summoned the MD of PSML to appear before the panel on Wednesday, adding that if the MD failed to appear, the lawmakers will issue a warrant of arrest.


“You have all seen the criminal behaviour of Premium Steel and everybody is embarrassed. They cannot walk out on the parliament because this committee is an offshoot of the parliament and we cannot tolerate that,” he said.


“In view of their criminal behaviour — for Premium Steel to have walked out of the parliament is a disgrace to this nation — I hereby summon the MD of Premium Steel to appear before the parliament on the 3rd of November.”


Below is the video of the protest

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