Friday 20th October, 2017
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2019 PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Atiku puts off-shore properties on sale

2019 PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Atiku puts off-shore properties on sale

·     We can’t dignify falsehood with response, says ex-Vice President
·     His firm threatens NPA over $700m debt

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has reportedly put several of his high net worth properties on the market.

The properties are said to be in South Africa, Dubai and Europe.

This has been interpret­ed as an indication that he in­tends to prosecute his last pres­idential race with everything he can muster in 2019.

“Atiku is throwing every­thing that he has into the 2019 presidential race,” a source in the know said.

There are, however, no in­dications that Atiku, who is not afraid to spend, is broke.

But the cash cow of his in­vestments is the Integrated Lo­gistics Services Nigeria (Intels), which he described in 2014, as “my most successful business.”

Reacting to the allegation of putting his properties on the market, a miffed Atiku stated that there was absolutely no substance in the allegation, adding that it lacked facts and that the media must not cross the sacrosanct lines of

 professionalism in their news reportage.

Atiku, who spoke through his media adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said: “As a journalist and an ed­itor, I can’t stop you from doing the story. But your story must be backed with facts.”

Ibe, who spoke to The AU­THORITY on phone on Thurs­day, stated that his feedback was more of “an advisory” than “a re­sponse.”

He queried: “How can I give legitimacy to a falsehood? I can­not dignify such a falsehood with a response. Our lawyers are ready to run amok with people.”

Meanwhile, sources con­firmed that attacks on his busi­ness empire, especially Intels, have started achieving the desired effect of “financially emasculating Atiku”, who hasn’t hidden his de­sire to run for the presidency.

In May this year, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had con­veyed to Intels President Muham­madu Buhari’s approval to desig­nate operations at the Onne Port into three categories - bulk car­go, container cargo and multipur­pose cargo.

The implication of the various actions by the NPA is that Intels’ monopoly was “efficiently bro­ken,” said the source. Onne Port is now Oil and Gas Multipurpose Cargo Terminal. It is the hub for oil and gas industry in Nigeria. More than 65 percent of export passes through the port.

Atiku, in his reaction, has in­stituted a court action against the government at the Federal High Court. Intels is accusing the gov­ernment of breach of agreements and deliberate sabotage of its mul­ti-billion investments through its actions.

The decision of the govern­ment opened the port to all and gave importers the choice to dis­charge their cargo in any termi­nal.

Only last week, a Second Re­public lawmaker, Junaid Moham­med, had blasted Atiku for trying to position himself as the leader of the North.

Atiku’s firm threatens arbi­tration against NPA over $700m debt

And shocked by the NPA’s termination of its agency agree­ment in spite of its recent corre­spondences to the company re­lating to its over $700 million indebtedness, Intels has request­ed a meeting to reconcile the “re­sidual critical areas.”

Intels said that it was an “un­justified decision” with “conse­quences highly injurious” to the nation, including hurting Nigeria’s international credit rating, scaring away foreign direct investments (FDIs), and engineering the com­pany’s possible withdrawal from the multi-billion-dollar Badagry Deep Seaport project.

In a letter to the NPA Man­aging Director, Intels’ Director, Silvano Bellinato, with regards to Article 12 of the Agency Agree­ment, requested for a meeting within seven days from the receipt of the letter “to analyse the resid­ual critical areas of our relation­ship and to agree, to the possible extent, on a common solution.”

Failing to do this, Bellinato said that “we will refer the mat­ters to arbitration,” adding that “we wish to reach an amica­ble solution as soon as possible so that we can avoid to request the intervention of the court for the immediate payment of any amount due to us from NPA.”

The company stated that “clearly, deduction of entitle­ments due to INL from collec­tions under the agreement, and payment of the balance into the designated NPA account for TSA purposes, would be in compli­ance with the TSA policy.”

The letter read in part: “With reference to your letter received on October 10, 2017, allegedly terminating the agency’s agree­ment between Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Intels Ni­geria Ltd (INL), we formally contest the contents of the same for the reasons stated below:

“On March 15, 2017, we re­ceived your letter ref HQ/F&A/ED/AD/INTELS/034 in which, in addition to other contents, the following points were stated:

“Nigerian Ports Author­ity (NPA) acknowledged a debt towards Intels Nigeria Limited (INL) in the sum of $674,767,415.00 (in addition to the interests accrued in the meantime); NPA communicat­ed the need to reconcile the sum of $109,000,000.00 for the addi­tional works carried out:

“NPA informed INL about the implementation to be dis­cussed in respect of a ‘tran­sit account’ called NPA service boat revenue collection account domiciled at one of the banks in­dicated by you and the related standard operating procedures (SOP);

“NPA confirmed 28 per cent agency commission to INL and the 72 per cent balance to be shared between NPA and INL in the ratio 30:70.

“On March 27, 2017, we re­plied to every point in your letter of 15th March as stated below: INL took note of NPA’s acknowl­edgement of debt;

“INL declared availability to meet NPA in order to discuss the details for the certification of the $109,000,000.00 for the ad­ditional works carried out; INL requested for postponement of the SOP application.”