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Suspended NPA Chief, Hadiza Usman Awarded Coastline Terminals To Dangote Proxy Company In A Shady Deal |RN

BY BRIDGET EDOKWE

Suspended Nigeria Ports Authority Manager, Hadiza Bala, was involved in a clandestine ploy to shortchange a company in favour of Africa’s richest, Aliko Dangote, documents obtained by SaharaReporters have revealed.

Suspended NPA Boss, Hadiza Bala Usman

Last year, some coastline terminals, formerly operated by Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs) in Onne ports complex, Rivers State, were confiscated and subsequently awarded to Dangote through a proxy company, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS) Nigeria limited.

Onne Port Complex is one of the largest Oil and Gas Free Zone in Africa, where major industry players from the exploration up to the completion phases operate.

The complex has two major terminals: the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and Federal Lighter Terminal (FLT).

For over a decade, INTELs Nigeria, partly owned by former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, operated some berths at the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) of the complex, providing logistics services until 2020.

The three berths of FOT numbered 9, 10 and were taken over by the NPA in a controversial manner, which many thought was a move by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration move to witch-hunt Abubakar, his opponent in the 2019 election and break the company’s monopoly.

The NPA, in September 2020, issued a notice announcing that the service operation handled by the Integrated Logistics Services (Intels) Nigeria had been terminated.

It further states that all Service Boats Owners and Operators are to do transactions directly in each of the Port Complex of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Meanwhile, a memo released to the press, seen by SaharaReporters, showed that Usman had transferred the berths confiscated from INTELs to ICTSI, a proxy company traced to Dangote, five months earlier.

The leaked memo, dated May 13, was signed by Yusuf Ahmed, NPA’s Director of Lands & Asset Admin, on behalf of Usman.

“Please refer to the lease of land and berths 9, 10 and 11 granted to you at FOT Onne and find attached herewith the draft Lease Agreement for a review of its possible contents before the final copy is produced for execution,” the letter addressed to the managing director of ICTSI.

Ahmed urged the company to send their comments for consideration.

“A registered surveyor will be appointed to produce the survey plan of the property to incorporation in the Lease Agreement and you will be required to see the surveyors fees,” it further read.

This was not Usman’s first time dealing with Dangote as money transfers between the duo dates back to 2015.

A Nigerian newspaper, Peoples Gazette, had previously reported how Dangote transferred N200 million to a bank account run by Usman during the build-up of the 2015 general election.

The transactions were sent in two tranches from two different bank accounts of Africa’s richest man to Ms Bala Usman’s account with Access Bank, the newspaper reported.

“Ms. Bala Usman received the first N100 million transfer on February 6, 2015, while the second N100 million came through three days later on February 9. The transfers carried ambiguous descriptions that made it difficult to conclude their purpose.”

Ms Bala was recently instructed to step aside for an independent investigation into a series of allegations of impropriety.

Nigeria’s transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, also alleged that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the regulatory body from 2016 to 2020 was short of the amount due for actual remittance — a claim, which according to him, should be investigated.

On Thursday, no reason was given for the suspension of Usman, who was reappointed for another five-year tenure recently.

She was first appointed as the Managing Director of NPA in 2016.

According to a release by President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, President Buhari approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of NPA.

“The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, to step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position. The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry, while the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry, will serve as Secretary. The Minister will appoint other panel members,” Shehu had said in the release.

While details of some of the other allegations against Usman remain unclear, sources said acts of favouritism were part. (SaharaReporters)

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Dangote Writes Minister To Overturn Buhari’s Decision On BUA Sugar Refinery |The Republican News

Aliko Dangote , Rabiu Abdulsamad

by Fikayo Owoeye

BUA Group has fought back at claims by Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria that its sugar refinery “poses a threat” to the Nigerian local sugar industry.

Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, and John Coumantaros, chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, had written a joint letter to the minister of industry, trade and investment accusing BUA’s refinery in Bundu Free Trade Zone, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, of undermining the national sugar master plan (NSMP).

The NSMP is a policy road map for sugar production introduced in 2013 to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production and save foreign exchange on the importation of sugar and ethanol.

Responding to a request for information from the trade ministry over the petition, Abdul Samad Rabiu, the BUA Group chairman, said its project is governed under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act and the Free Zone approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

BUA Group CEO, Alhaji Rabiu Abdulsamad

Rabiu said Dangote and Coumantaros are calling to question the “authority of the president’s power and the diligence of the trade ministry”.

“Therefore we see this as an affront to the powers of the president and an attempt to undermine Nigeria and its institutions as well as edge out competition, to gain a monopoly that holds the country to ransom,” he said.

Dangote and Coumantaros, in a letter dated January 28, 2021 and addressed to Niyi Adebayo, the minister, alleged that the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt was built with “the intention to undermine the NSMP”.

BUA Group has fought back at claims by Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria that its sugar refinery “poses a threat” to the Nigerian local sugar industry.

Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, and John Coumantaros, chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, had written a joint letter to the minister of industry, trade and investment accusing BUA’s refinery in Bundu Free Trade Zone, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, of undermining the national sugar master plan (NSMP).

The NSMP is a policy road map for sugar production introduced in 2013 to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production and save foreign exchange on the importation of sugar and ethanol.

Responding to a request for information from the trade ministry over the petition, Abdul Samad Rabiu, the BUA Group chairman, said its project is governed under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act and the Free Zone approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.


Rabiu said Dangote and Coumantaros are calling to question the “authority of the president’s power and the diligence of the trade ministry”.

“Therefore we see this as an affront to the powers of the president and an attempt to undermine Nigeria and its institutions as well as edge out competition, to gain a monopoly that holds the country to ransom,” he said.

A RARE JOINT LETTER


Dangote and Coumantaros, in a letter dated January 28, 2021 and addressed to Niyi Adebayo, the minister, alleged that the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt was built with “the intention to undermine the NSMP”.

They both prayed the minister to investigate the quantity of raw sugar imported by BUA’s sugar refinery and “appropriate penalty in terms of duty at 60 percent and 10 percent levy be imposed, on the company”.

They called for a fair and discipline implementation of the NSMP by the Nigerian Sugar Development Council (NSDC) — the regulator.

“Publicly available information suggests that BUA International, one of the players in the sugar industry, has commissioned a sugar plant in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. With the new refinery, the country’s refining capacity goes from 2.75 million metric tones to 3.4 million metric tones per annum, or from 170 percent over capacity over last year’s import quota to over 210 percent capacity,” the letter read.


“This investment in the Port Harcourt refinery was clearly done with the intention to undermine the NSMP. We are particularly  surprised by the brazenness as we believe that the choice of location and the publicity campaign behind the investment has been deliberately engineered to provoke public sentiment and put the Federal Republic of Nigeria against its people.”

They also asked the ministry to ensure that no additional allocation of quota is given for raw, very high polarity sugar (VHP) or refined sugar for the refinery in Port Harcourt for local market production.

THEY ARE ‘CO-CONSPIRATORS’

Rabiu, in his response dated February 11, 2021, said it is a well-known fact “in Nigeria and anywhere in the world that wherever Dangote is operating in any sector or business, he seeks to muscle out competition through any means necessary” and “this scenario is playing out again in this case”.


He wrote: “It is however strange that his current co-conspirator, John Coumantaros, a Greek/American national, was once a victim of Dangote’s. If we recall, he experienced similar issues at the hands of his co-conspirator which subsequently led to his arrest alongside his elderly father by the EFCC.

“They were detained for over a week because he decided to [do] cement business through UNICEM. In the end, the Coumantaros had to sell their business to save themselves. This is also matter of public record. They are only just acting as friends in connivance because of their interest to push out competition and create a monopoly for themselves.”

LIKE BUNDU, LIKE LEKKI?

Rabiu said under the NEPZA act, companies are allowed to process and, if they so wish, sell 100 percent of their production in Nigeria with payment of duties based on the current raw materials tariffs.


“As a matter of fact, Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries, who is one of the complainants alleging and attacking this approval has also applied and obtained the same approval for his refinery project in Lekki, Lagos State, where he is currently enjoying the benefit of the being in an NEPZ,” he wrote.

The company said the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt is mainly for export rather than for the Nigerian market.

BUA said it is doing everything possible to ensure that its backward integration programme (BIP) is on course through the company’s 20,000 hectares Lafiagi Sugar Project encompassing a 10,000tpd sugar mill, 200,000tpa sugar refinery, 20 million litres Ethanol plant and a 35MWpoer plant from Bagasse.

He said that both Dangote and Coumantaros are not happy with the Lafiagi BIP seeing the level of investment there as well as the Port Harcourt sugar refinery.

The refinery employs over 1,000 Nigerians with over $250 million spent on the project.

“As a matter of fact, both players already 80 percent of the raw sugar allocation (Dangote-55%, Flour Mills-25%), without commiserate investment in BIP to actually warrant such allocation.”

BUA said it will continue to comply with the obligations of the NSMP and backward integration programme.

They both prayed the minister to investigate the quantity of raw sugar imported by BUA’s sugar refinery and “appropriate penalty in terms of duty at 60 percent and 10 percent levy be imposed, on the company”.

They called for a fair and discipline implementation of the NSMP by the Nigerian Sugar Development Council (NSDC) — the regulator.

“Publicly available information suggests that BUA International, one of the players in the sugar industry, has commissioned a sugar plant in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. With the new refinery, the country’s refining capacity goes from 2.75 million metric tones to 3.4 million metric tones per annum, or from 170 percent over capacity over last year’s import quota to over 210 percent capacity,” the letter read.

Dangote Group CEO, Alhaji Aliko Dangote


“This investment in the Port Harcourt refinery was clearly done with the intention to undermine the NSMP. We are particularly  surprised by the brazenness as we believe that the choice of location and the publicity campaign behind the investment has been deliberately engineered to provoke public sentiment and put the Federal Republic of Nigeria against its people.”

They also asked the ministry to ensure that no additional allocation of quota is given for raw, very high polarity sugar (VHP) or refined sugar for the refinery in Port Harcourt for local market production.

THEY ARE ‘CO-CONSPIRATORS’

Rabiu, in his response dated February 11, 2021, said it is a well-known fact “in Nigeria and anywhere in the world that wherever Dangote is operating in any sector or business, he seeks to muscle out competition through any means necessary” and “this scenario is playing out again in this case”.


He wrote: “It is however strange that his current co-conspirator, John Coumantaros, a Greek/American national, was once a victim of Dangote’s. If we recall, he experienced similar issues at the hands of his co-conspirator which subsequently led to his arrest alongside his elderly father by the EFCC.

“They were detained for over a week because he decided to [do] cement business through UNICEM. In the end, the Coumantaros had to sell their business to save themselves. This is also matter of public record. They are only just acting as friends in connivance because of their interest to push out competition and create a monopoly for themselves.”

LIKE BUNDU, LIKE LEKKI?

Rabiu said under the NEPZA act, companies are allowed to process and, if they so wish, sell 100 percent of their production in Nigeria with payment of duties based on the current raw materials tariffs.


“As a matter of fact, Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries, who is one of the complainants alleging and attacking this approval has also applied and obtained the same approval for his refinery project in Lekki, Lagos State, where he is currently enjoying the benefit of the being in an NEPZ,” he wrote.

The company said the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt is mainly for export rather than for the Nigerian market.

BUA said it is doing everything possible to ensure that its backward integration programme (BIP) is on course through the company’s 20,000 hectares Lafiagi Sugar Project encompassing a 10,000tpd sugar mill, 200,000tpa sugar refinery, 20 million litres Ethanol plant and a 35MWpoer plant from Bagasse.

He said that both Dangote and Coumantaros are not happy with the Lafiagi BIP seeing the level of investment there as well as the Port Harcourt sugar refinery.

The refinery employs over 1,000 Nigerians with over $250 million spent on the project.

“As a matter of fact, both players already 80 percent of the raw sugar allocation (Dangote-55%, Flour Mills-25%), without commiserate investment in BIP to actually warrant such allocation.”

BUA said it will continue to comply with the obligations of the NSMP and backward integration programme. (The Cable)

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