Oil and Gas company, Aiteo Group, has refuted claims that it gave former minister of petroleum resources,Diezani Alison-Madueke, property or furniture in England in exchange for contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to a statement released by the company, no Nigerian corporate practice laws were flouted in the interactions between Benedict Peters, its executive vice chairman, and the former minister.
The statement, which was signed by Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, Aiteo’s senior manager, said the furniture purchased by the company was for Peters’ UK apartment and not for the former minister.
“We have become aware of a defamatory publication that alleges without any foundation whatsoever, that our executive vice chairman (EVC), Benedict Peters, bought property in England and luxury furnishings for the former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke in return for contracts from the NNPC,” the statement read.
“This furniture was delivered to and placed in that property. The furniture was for his own use and not purchased for Mrs Alison-Madueke; and is entirely consistent with his status, stature and financial compass as well as the value and location of the property for which the furniture was bought.
“We have responded to most of the baseless allegations in previous publications but global best practice demands that we tender this rebuttal for the sake of our shareholders, stakeholders, host communities, the many thousands directly or indirectly deriving their livelihood from the company and the public at large.
“It is well known in the oil, gas and wider energy sectors that the Aiteo Group comprises a number of separate, legal and corporate entities whose asset base includes OML 29 and NCTL upstream, and other substantial assets downstream, developed more than 16 years ago.
“The company became a major player in the oil and gas industry long before Alison-Madueke was appointed as minister for petroleum resources.
“Like every major player in the oil and gas sector, including international oil companies (IOCs), Peters and the Aiteo Group’s interactions with the minister of petroleum resources as with other ministers before her, were in accordance to acceptable corporate practice in Nigeria.
“There is incontrovertible evidence in the form of provenance of funds utilised to acquire the property or properties concerned; legal documents of title and documentary proof of rights of ownership from purchase to date that completely confirm that the material purchases were transacted solely by our EVC and his companies; that he irrefutably owns the material property or properties.
“It is therefore ridiculous, false and highly defamatory to suggest or infer that properties were “bought for Mrs Alison-Madueke”. The matters in Nigeria and United Kingdom remain active and extant.”
According to the statement, there is a related civil case in the United States and Peters has challenged the claims made in the article in court.
“Neither our company nor EVC is a party to the US proceedings. We need hardly remind the publishers that in Nigeria, discussing facts of cases that are pending in court and making prejudicial statements pertaining thereto is a criminal offence,” it further read.
“In summary, all allegations of impropriety contained in the said publication are expressly and categorically denied. Peters has not been charged with any criminal offence in Nigeria or any other jurisdiction with respect to any of the matters stated in the publication.”
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