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Aiteo Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Peters, is the latest Nigerian oil mogul to be named in the case surrounding the bribery allegations against former Nigerian Oil Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Three London properties linked to the alleged bribery of Mrs. Alison-Madueke have been frozen under the UK Proceeds of Crime Act, at least one of which is owned by Mr. Peters.

The order, issued in September 2016 and obtained by Africa Confidential, forbids defendants Benedict Peters, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Atlantic Energy’s Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, Christopher Aire (a jeweller for Mrs. Alison-Madueke) and Donald Amamgbo (her cousin) from disposing of or dealing with the properties.

Messrs Alison-Madueke, Aluko and Omokore were named in the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DoJ) asset forfeiture, which stated that the same London properties totaling more than £10m were bought for the oil minister in order to secure lucrative Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs), which saw prized Nigerian oil assets passed to the minister’s cronies for pittance.

Mr. Peters’ company Aiteo has been linked to the 2015 INEC bribery scheme that saw Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s son, Ugonna Madueke, distribute $115million to INEC officials via Fidelity Bank in 2015.

But the inclusion of Mr. Peters as a defendant in the London case, which relates to an attempt to influence the former Minister’s contracting decisions, suggests that international investigations could be more wide ranging than was previously known.

Mr. Peters’ company, Aiteo, did not directly benefit from the SAAs, but it flourished under Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s oil ministry. As well as term contracts from the NNPC, Aiteo benefitted from the oil swaps, and bought Shell’s prize asset, OML 29. With Peters now in the frame, these deals could face the same scrutiny from international law enforcement as the notorious Atlantic SAAs.

Mr. Peters has admitted to being the owner of the Seychellois company, Rosewood Investments Limited, who until now has been known as “co-conspirator #2” in the DOJ’s case. Rosewood Investments bought the £2.8m luxury flat in Harley House, London, in March 2011, with the help of London-based estate agent Daniel Ford.

Mr. Peters later bought luxury furnishings for the flat from Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s favourite Houston store, according to the US documents. The DoJ affidavit says over the course of two days in May 2011, Mr. Peters bought over $107,000 of furniture – including a sideboard worth more than $10,000 – that was later shipped to the UK and installed at Harley House.

Construction workers renovating Harley House over the summer of 2011 were introduced to Mrs. Alison-Madueke as “the architect”, and Kola Aluko, who was co-ordinating the renovation of Harley House in the summer of 2011, forwarded the plans for the apartment to the former minister.

Mr. Peters could not be reached to comment for this story. All his known telephone lines were switched off the multiple times PREMIUM TIMES called in three days. He is yet to respond to an email inquiry sent to him.

An official of his Sigmund Group, who was contacted by telephone, said he could not speak for Mr. Peters, and would not provide his latest contact details.

Diezani’s deals: the swaps and the blocks

The Swaps

Mr. Peters ran tank farms under the aegis of Sigmund Communnecci Limited until 2008, when a “re-branding” exercise renamed the company to Aiteo. Its success under the Goodluck Jonathan government has made it perhaps Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil and gas company.

Aiteo entered into its first offshore processing agreement (OPA) contract with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s Duke Oil in 2010 which gave the company 30,000 barrels of oil a day. Under the contact terms, Aiteo was supposed to refine the crude and import a set value of oil products in return. That deal was periodically renewed, but it was not renewed in 2014.

In January 2015, Aiteo received another OPA deal (90,000 barrels per day) directly from NNPC, but the contract was cancelled by the Buhari administration. That same time, the company took over Duke Oil’s 30,000 barrels per day OPA. The deal was also cancelled shortly afterwards.

Former Governor of Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi, published an explosive memo in 2014 that pointed to possible NNPC losses of $20billion between January 2012 and July 2013, and listed the oil swaps as potential leakage points. Experts pointed to numerous loopholes in the contracts that could have cost NNPC millions – including a clause stating that records relating to the contract could be disposed of after a year.

President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled the swap contracts as soon as he assumed the Nigerian presidency in 2015, but it took until March 2017 for Aiteo to repay $202m in “reconciliation” charges – and there has been little transparency over how this figure was arrived at.

The Blocks

By arguably the most lasting deal that Mrs. Alison-Madueke presided over during her time at the oil ministry was the sale of Shell’s onshore assets in the Eastern Niger Delta. The jewel in the Shell’s divestment portfolio was the Nembe Creek Trunkline, a critical crude oil pipeline that takes crude from the Delta to Bonny Export terminal – and the OML 29 oil block.

The Aiteo consortium was announced as the highest bidder for the most valuable block, OML 29, in March 2014, just a month after Sanusi’s memo was published.

Aiteo and its partners, Igho Sanomi’s Taleveras and a little known trader, Tempo Energy, bid $2.85m for the block, which commentators considered inflated. None of the companies had experience of production, and Shell encouraged the consortium to join up with a company that did.

It took over a year to for the deal to be completed, and in that time, Shell’s Chief Financial Officer warned investors that it was “difficult to predict” how the company would get approval of the sales from the government. Under the Petroleum Act the Minister has power of approval for the sale of oil licences in which NNPC has stake.

The purchase of the block was finally completed just days before the 2015 election, financed by Citi Bank, First Bank, Zenith Bank, and Union Bank Nigeria. The CBN demanded the reclassification of the loan in summer 2016 – as the Nigerian banking sector reached near crisis because of its exposure to Jonathan era deals.

The transaction was also partly funded by $512m of “seller financing” from Shell – under which Shell retains the exclusive rights to market oil from the block for the first five years.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES

BIG STORY

Biden Reverses Trump’s Travel Ban On Nigeria, Yemen, Eritrea, Others

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The newly sworn-in American President, Joe Biden, on Wednesday, issued an executive order nullifying a travel ban imposed on citizens of some Muslim-majority countries by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Before his exit from White House on Wednesday, Mr Trump-led administration was notorious for its harsh policies against immigrants and asylum seekers, one of his many election campaign promises.

He tightened the policies amidst the coronavirus pandemic which rocked the globe, claiming his decision was to protect the American populace.

However, Mr. Biden, immediately after his inauguration on Wednesday, issued a number of executive orders undoing some of the policies and projects of his predecessor.

Reversals

Mr Biden has now nullified the entry ban on citizens from over a dozen countries, including Nigeria, Eritrea, Yemen, and Sudan.

“There’s no time to waste.

“These are just all starting points,” he said before signing the 17 executive orders in the White House, a statement that connotes the possibility of many more to come.

Mr Trump’s strict immigration policies have been condemned by leaders and civil groups in the past.

The American Civil Liberties Union, on Wednesday, lauded Mr Biden’s decision berating his predecessor’s travel policy a “cruel Muslim ban that targeted Africans.”

Against his predecessor’s plan to exit the World Health Organisation (WHO) by July 2021, Mr Biden has also submitted a letter renewing the U.S. ”commitment to funding the organization and honoring the country’s policies on climate change”.

Mr Trump ordered the suspension of funds to the WHO based on his suspicion of the alleged mismanagement of the deadly pandemic by the health agency and its (WHO) pandering to the whims, of the Chinese government.

One of Mr Biden’s newly signed executive orders also includes the abolishment of the construction of a wall along the U.S-Mexico border to deny citizens of the latter outright entry.

In a bid to combat the spread of the deadly virus, the 46th U.S. president (Biden) also encouraged his people to mask up as “it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives.”

“It’s time to mask up, America,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden also signed an executive order mandating all people to wear masks in all federal buildings and on federal lands to fight increase the country’s chances against the pandemic.

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BIG STORY

Makinde Warns Sunday Igboho, Others Over Ultimatum To Fulanis

Peter Okunoren

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The Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, has warned an acclaimed freedom fighter in the state, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho, and other Yoruba youths over the recent seven-day ultimatum quit notice given to Fulanis resident in the state.

Makinde stated this on Wednesday in a statewide broadcast on the rising insecurity and unrest in the state.

He said enemies of Oyo State are neither the Hausa-Fulani pastoralists, who are looking for pasture for their flock nor the farmers, who are seeking to produce food for human consumption.

Igboho, had in a radio interview claimed that the Fulani herders possessed more sophisticated weapons than the operatives of the Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, and they have to leave because of consistent killings and kidnapping in Ibarapa Local Government Area of the State.

However, Makinde said in the statewide broadcast to residents of the state, aired on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State: “The past few weeks’ events have made it imperative that I address issues that have to do with the internal security of our dear state.

“We cannot overlook the fact that there have indeed been instances that cause concern. The fragile peace between the herdsmen and farmers in Oke Ogun is being threatened.

“Individuals who are not authorized are going around chasing people from their homes and causing mayhem. This assault on residents of Oyo State is not the way to further the Yoruba cause.

“Let me state that we shall not sit back and watch anyone make any law-abiding resident of Oyo State feel unsafe in their homes, farms, or business places. We are aware of some people circulating flyers and giving people ultimatums to leave their land. This is totally unacceptable and will not be condoned.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which I swore to defend and protect, guarantees freedom of movement in Section 41(1), such that citizens are free to reside in any part of the country without fear. We are determined to preserve that right in Oyo State.”

The governor called on local government chairpersons, traditional rulers, and other sectors of the state to work with the security agencies to secure the state and ensure maximum peace.

He said: “Let me also use this medium to speak to our traditional rulers. They must not be part of any plans to disrupt the peaceful coexistence of residents of Oyo State.

“I must reiterate that we will not hesitate to take appropriate action against any individuals who try to disrupt the peace in Oyo State. Our administration is taking all necessary steps to protect the good people of Oyo State from harassment, thuggery, and banditry. We believe we have the situation under control.

“It is time for us to come together and put the interests of our state first. We have a common enemy. That enemy is not the Hausa- Fulani who is looking for pasture for his flock. It is not the farmer who just wants to grow food to sell in the market or to feed his family. Our enemies are the hoodlums, cultists, armed robbers, kidnappers, and bandits. These people live among us.

“With our collective efforts, we can continue to keep the peace in Oyo State. Together, we can preserve the secure environment that has contributed to the growth of our economy.”

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Vice-Principal Impregnates 12-Year-Old Student, Says He Gave Her N300-N500 For Sex

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The Vice-Principal of the Kadandani Community School in the Rimi Local Government Area of Katsina State, Ibrahim Tukur, who allegedly raped and impregnated a student of the school, has explained the circumstances surrounding the development.

He made the explanation in Hausa language to journalists at the police headquarters in Katsina, where he and other suspects were paraded on Wednesday.

Tukur stated, “I am being accused of committing rape and it’s true I committed the crime. I have been having affairs with the girl for eight months ago now. I used to take her to my house and offer her the sum of N300 of N500; some other times, I would give her N200 to have sex with her.

“Information reaching me right now is that the girl has been delivered of a baby boy for me. I have three wives.”

Tukur and the other suspects were arrested between January 9 and 14, 2021.

The spokesman for the command, SP Gambo Isah, told journalists during the parade that the vice-principal was arrested on January 9, 2021, following a formal report at the Rimi Divisional Police Headquarters by one Ibrahim Sani.

Isah said Tukur took advantage of the victim to impregnate her.

“The vice-principal, who is married to three wives, used to take the girl from the school to his house, where he had serial sex with her. As a result, he got the girl pregnant and she was delivered of a baby through caesarean section.”

 

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