Following the remand order placed on the state Attorney General of Edo state, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, the state government says it would not relinquish the ownership of Bendel Brewery to Churchgate Industries Limited (an Indian owned and operated company).

This position was made known in a press statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion while reacting to committal of the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Dr. Osagie Obayuwana.

In his words, “it is the position of Edo state government that Bendel Breweries Limited forms part of the collective patrimony of the people of Edo state which the government is unwilling to trade for N12.75 million and the government fully intends to pursue this position to the highest court in the land”.

According to Odion, “the government of Edo state would rather resuscitate the brewery in order to create wealth and employment rather than allow the assets to stripped and devalued by mercantile interests and greed for unmerited profits”.

Answering questions from journalists, Odion claimed that there was no genuine transfer of the company by Edo state government to Churchgate Company.

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Through an agreement dated 25 November 1992 the Edo state government under its privatisation programme agreed to transfer 51 percent of shares in the aforesaid Bendel Brewery to Churchgate Industries Limited.

A that time the company was independently valued at N212 million. However, by some yet to be explained process, 51 percent of its shares were purportedly transferred to Churchgate Industries at a value of N12.75 million.

Odion said efforts were being made by the government to effect the release of the state Attorney General, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana from remand who was last Monday committed to prison for contempt of court.

The privatization of Bendel Breweries which was initiated in 1992 (about 20 years ago) was poorly handled the same way the sale of Bendel Insurance Company was poorly done and up till date it has remained unsolved .

—Yomi Obaditan /Benin City

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