Akwa Ibom -The management of the United Company RUSAL Plc, a Russian company, says the Supreme Court's judgment on the sale of the Aluminium Smelter plant in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom does not affect its ownership of the plant.
It will be recalled that Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) was built in 1992 by a German firm, Messrs Ferrostaal AG for the Federal Government and later privatised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
The apex court on Friday ruled that BFI Group, the Nigerian-American consortium that emerged the preferred bidder for ALSCON in 2004, but was disqualified in an alleged controversial circumstances by BPE, was the valid winner of the bid.
UC Rusal took over the plant in 2006 with a bid of $250 million.
In an e-mail statement from United Company RUSAL made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Eket on Tuesday, the Russia firm maintained that it still retained its equity shares in the Aluminium plant.
``According to our information, last Friday’s ruling of Nigeria’s Supreme Court neither does change, nor can change the owner of ALSCON shares belonging to UC RUSAL.
``This litigation relates to claims of BFIG to BPE of Nigeria, which means that it is Nigerian government that is to bear responsibility for such ruling and that it cannot have effect on RUSAL’s ownership of ALSCON shares.
“ALSCON is currently part of UC RUSAL, the smelter is operating in standard mode.”
Meanwhile, the situation at the plant in Ikot Abasi remained calm, while workers were having mixed feelings on the implication of the Supreme Court judgment.
An employee at the aluminum plant said that over 450 workers might loose their jobs, if the plant was transferred to the new investors as ordered by the Supreme Court.
``We are very concerned, because the nature of this plant is that once it is shut down, it takes a very long time to restart, and no investor would pay salaries for the idle period.
``So the judgment of the supreme court has widespread implications.
``Even if the new investors decide to retain the workforce, there will be a break in income before the plant restarts, because you cannot hand over a running aluminum plant.
``You need to shut down before hand over,” he said.