Indigenous oil explorer, Aiteo Group, says it may seek redress in court against an online publication and its sponsors over claims that it maintained a corrupt relationship with former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
This followed an allegation that Aiteo was linked to the reported 2015 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) bribery scandal, an accusation it described as “prejudicially designed” to soil the image and reputation of the company and its executive vice chairman.
Regretting that it could not comment on all issues raised because some are sub-judice, it stated, however, that the rebuttal was for the sake of “shareholders, host communities, the over 11,000 people who derive their livelihood from the company and the general public,” according global best practice.
“At no time in our company’s history has any of our directors or employees ever been involved in any form of criminal or immoral business, other conduct or activity with the former petroleum minister, any NNPC or other government staff or agent,” a statement by the Aiteo Group’s Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, read.
“Aiteo never benefitted from the Strategic Alliance Agreements referenced in the article. We were a major player in the Nigerian oil sector, importing petroleum products for NNPC and exporting naphtha, fuel oil and condensate and were already a flourishing and prosperous group by any standards long before Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s appointment as Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“Aiteo’s core area of business has been the trading and distribution of sundry petroleum products since its inception in 1999. Furthermore, the NNPC has publicly confirmed that no Aiteo entity is indebted to NNPC or any of its subsidiaries.”
The statement further noted that “the sale of OML 29 to the Aiteo Consortium by Shell was conducted under international best practices, with Aiteo emerging as the preferred bidder due to its superior technical and commercial competence.
“The rigor and transparency under which the bid was conducted by the owners of the purchased interest, Shell, Total and Agip, made it unnecessary and impossible for anyone to influence the outcomes inordinately. These allegations are therefore wrong and should not have been published.
“That Aiteo is able to announce a production increase of 400 per cent from about 23kbpod a year ago, averaging over 90kbpod, is a testament to the technical robustness of our workforce and the prudence and professionalism of our management team.
“Despite our open-door policy to media enquiries, the authors claimed to have attempted to contact us several times. However, it is a shame that none of those efforts extended to using the contact details on our corporate website.
“It is apparent that there is vested interest behind the unsavoury publications, and an orchestrated campaign of calumny on an international level against an indigenous company that has gone global in outlook and outreach.”