Atiku Cites Federal Govt’s Alleged Persecution for Intels’ Divestment

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•Says government preoccupied with destroying legitimate business
•Minister seeks more time to study, consult on allegations
Firm: No more ties with ex-VP

Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday accused the federal government of targeting his businesses, prompting his divestment from Integrated Logistic Services (INTELS) Nigeria Limited, the country’s largest logistics company that provides comprehensive integrated services for the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Atiku, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, explained that he sold off his shares in the company, which in 2015 he described as his most lucrative business, because of the alleged pre-occupation of the federal government to destroy “a legitimate business.”

Atiku, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, was reacting to yesterday’s exclusive report by THISDAY that he had divested from Intels and his two children working with the organisation, Mr. Adamu Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Aminu Atiku Abubakar, had ended their working relationship with the organisation.

The former vice president was said to have sold his interests through a series of transactions executed by his family trust, Guernsey Trust International, in deals that began in December 2018 and concluded last year.
Atiku was said to have sold his shares in Intels to Orlean-Invest Group, Intels’ parent company, for various amounts totalling over $100 million in the deal that spanned two years.

It was learnt that Atiku was paid $60 million, $29 million, $24.1 million in three instalments.
Intels also yesterday confirmed the deal, saying it has severed ties with Atiku and his family.
Atiku, in the statement, said he was redirecting his businesses through reinvestments.

He accused the federal government of destroying businesses that are out to create jobs for Nigerians.
He also warned that there should be a difference between politics and business.
Atiku confirmed that he had sold his shares in Intels and redirected his investment to other sectors of the economy for returns and creation of jobs.

“Co-founder of Integrated Logistics Services Nigeria Limited (Intels), Atiku Abubakar, has been selling his shares in Intels over the years.
“It assumed greater urgency in the last five years, because this government has been preoccupied with destroying a legitimate business that was employing thousands of Nigerians because of politics.

“There should be a marked difference between politics and business.
“Yes, he has sold his shares in Intels and redirected his investment to other sectors of the economy for returns and creation of jobs,” the statement stated.

Responding to Atiku’s statement, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, asked for some time to make consultations and find out which policies of the federal government have impacted negatively on his businesses.
“I will not be able to make any comment for now. I need to make consultations so that I will know which area of the federal government’s policies have impacted on his businesses; give me some time,” the minister stated.

Also reacting to THISDAY’s exclusive report on the divestment, Intels said it had severed ties with Atiku, a major shareholder, and his family after the former vice president, through the family trust, Guernsey Trust International, sold his shares to Orlean-Invest Group, Intels’ parent company, between December 2018 and January 2019.

In a statement entitled: ‘Intels severs ties with Atiku,’ yesterday by its spokesman, Mr. Tommaso Ruffinoni, the company, however, stated that Atiku, after his payoff, was owing the company $24.1 million before converting his shares.
“In the period between April and May 2020, Mr. Atiku Abubakar converted his remaining shares into a convertible bond that he subsequently monetised up to a residual sum of approximately $29m.

“When he requested to cash in the above-mentioned sum, our group contested to Mr. Atiku Abubakar a debt, towards our group, of $24.1m. Without having received any answer regarding the matter, on 30th of November 2020, Mr. Atiku Abubakar was informed about the set-off of such sum while we made available the remaining sum of $5.4m.

“With the completion of the above-mentioned transactions, the era of Mr. Atiku Abubakar family’s involvement with the Group Orlean-Intels is over.
“On 1st December 2020, our group terminated also the working relationship with Mr. Abubakar’s sons, Mr. Adamu Atiku-Abubakar and Mr. Aminu Atiku-Abubakar, and since that date, our group does not have any contacts, neither direct nor indirect, with members of Mr. Atiku Abubakar’s family.”

Intels, in the last few years, has been having a running battle with the federal government, culminating in the cancellation of its 17-year-old contract with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for pilotage monitoring.
The federal government had in October 2017 directed the NPA to terminate the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement that the agency has with Intels, saying that the contract was void ab initio.

The NPA had also accused Intels of refusing to remit to the federal government service boat pilotage revenue in the firm’s custody, which amounted to $207.646 million (N78.905 billion) as at September 30, 2019.

NPA said the money was aside from service boat pilotage revenue for January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 amounting to $97.029 million, which adds up to $307.675 million (N115.775 billion) in the custody of Intels.
However, Intels had denied owing NPA to the tune of $145.8 million, insisting that NPA owes it over $750 million, giving to a possible recourse to litigation to resolve the dispute.