Aluko & Oyebode Dismisses Allegations, Clarifies Advisory Role With Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment

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Davidson Iriekpen

A leading law firm, Aluko & Oyebode, has dismissed allegations making the rounds in the media against its chairman, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, on his  role in the establishment of Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited, a special purpose public-private partnership entity initiated by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

It noted that at no time was any allegation made against its chairman, any of its partners or AO Secretarial Services Limited by the agencies of the federal government.

In a press statement released in Lagos at the weekend, the firm wondered why a deliberate attempt would be made to take a routine enquiry into the actions of a client of the firm and associate it with unfounded and contrived allegations designed to damage the firm and its chairman’s reputation.

The firm added that no employee or representative of the firm was ever arrested or detained; neither did any of its employee or representative engage in or was accused of any wrong doing.

“A deliberate attempt is being made to take a routine enquiry into the actions of a client of the firm and associate it with unfounded and contrived allegations designed to damage the firm and its Chairman’s reputation,” it stated

The firm acknowledged that “as part of an on-going investigation, it has been asked to provide certain information and documentation to the relevant government agencies in its role as legal counsel to the Ministry, including the role that the firm played in the establishment of the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited as a special purpose public-private partnership entity.”

Aluko & Oyebode also revealed that it had willingly provided all the relevant information and documentation to the relevant agencies of government to assist them in their investigation of its strictly professional role in the incorporation of the company.

The firm threatened that it reserves the right to defend its reputation and seek redress through all legal avenues against the perpetrators of the allegations.

“At no time whatsoever has any money laundering allegation been made against its chairman, any of its partners or AO Secretarial Services Limited by the authorities concerned.

“The firm reserves the right to defend its reputation and seek redress through all legal avenues against the perpetrators of the allegations,” the statement said.

The statement disclosed that the law firm was engaged by the ministry on June 5, 2018 to support the legal processes for the establishment of the company and for AO Secretarial Services Ltd to act as the Company Secretary to the newly formed company following its incorporation.

It added” “It is also providing legal advice to the ministry on potential investments into the company and on the legal structures for projects which the company intends to invest in and execute.”

The firm further clarified its role as interim nominee shareholder in the company saying, “at inception, the scope of legal services included acting as a nominee shareholder in the company ahead of the completion of the investment agreements with third party institutional investors and international development finance institutions, which include African Export-Import Bank, Nigerian Social Investment Authority and Bank of Industry.”

The firm, however, assured concerned stakeholders that the company has been subjected to due diligence processes by some of the world’s leading development finance institutions who require adherence to the highest possible ethical and governance standards.

It added that at every stage of its engagement, it has ensured that its services have been discharged in accordance with the highest professional and ethical standards and in full compliance with the Nigerian law and global best practice for the establishment of public private partnerships.

“We will continue to maintain the finest tradition of excellence and ethical practice in all that we do,” the firm assured.