The Sun News

Aiteo Vice Chairman denies link with Diezani

By Adewale Sanyaolu

The Executive Chairman of Aiteo Group, Mr. Benedict Peters, has denied buying property and luxury furnishings for the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in return for contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

A statement by the Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Aiteo Group, Mr. Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, quoted Peters as saying that the false story making the rounds emanated from an online newspaper known for publishing stories with spurious details.

“The publication contains several untrue and malicious allegations against our Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and the Aiteo Group. It is obviously directed against the image, reputation and integrity of our EVC and the company in what we have identified as an orchestrated large scale campaign of calumny, which is sponsored and designed to tarnish our image.

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,’’ the statement stated.

The statement explained further that Peters, through his lawyers, has challenged the veracity of the claims made in the article in court, adding that there is a related civil case in the United States, which recites matters relevant to the UK and Nigerian court cases in respect of which further comment cannot also be made for the same reason.

‘‘Neither our company nor the 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.”

 The statement stated further that all allegations of impropriety contained in the said publication are expressly and categorically denied, stating that 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.

The company maintained that, 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.

‘‘Other than such interaction, there is no commercial link between them and there is no basis for inferring any. We add that our group’s contribution to the overall financial capacity of the country, over several years predating her appointment as Minister, cannot be overemphasised.  

“Aiteo has created significant direct and indirect employment, contributed billions of naira and millions of dollars to the nation’s treasury and led to direct foreign investment worth more than $4 billion. In addition, the company engages in several other corporate social investment programmes in its host communities and the nation generally.’’

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