“It’s with a profound sense of responsibility and a heavy heart that we address the claims and very cheap attempts at blackmail levelled against BUA by Aliko Dangote in a recent 7-page editorial following months of sponsored campaigns of calumny against us using third-party platforms. To put things in perspective, it’s imperative to revisit history—a history not of rivalry but of resilience; not of enmity, but of endurance.”
“In August 1991, a young BUA was doing its commodities trading business just as Nigeria faced a scarcity of sugar. As sugar was scarce, BUA was lucky to be one of the few with any stock for sale, and we stood prepared to supply the nation’s needs as best as our stock could. It was during this period Aliko Dangote approached us to purchase sugar. If only we knew he was setting the first of many traps in our business history. He gave us a Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria Cheque, which bounced upon presentation to the bank. Unbeknown to us, this was a ruse that would lead to a court-sanctioned freeze of our assets orchestrated by Dangote.”
“For three agonising months, our accounts were garnisheed, warehouses shuttered, and our spirit tested. Yet, from the ashes of deceit, BUA survived. (see attached court order)”
“Fast forward a few years later, we decided that since we were making good progress in our various businesses, we should open a sugar refinery. We approached one Usman Dantata (now late), Aliko Dangote’s uncle, and leased his NPA waterfront land (4.5 hectares) at the Tincan Island port, ‘Polo House’. We took the land, signed an agreement with the consent of NPA, and paid all applicable dues. Dangote waited until our contractors and equipment had been mobilised to the site, then he went to former President Obasanjo. President Obasanjo had the land revoked entirely and gave the lease to Dangote. As a result, even his uncle lost the land. BUA was only given 24 hours to vacate the land.”
“It took us over a year to get another land. How?”
“Our survival as a business especially our Lagos sugar refinery is a legacy handed to us by a loving father who, seeing his son’s distress, did what only the noblest and kindest of hearts could do. With unwavering faith, our Chairman’s late father—may his soul rest in eternal peace—handed him the land on which our Lagos Sugar Refinery stands today. This land was the location of one of his thriving businesses with a warehouse, which he shut down and handed to us without asking for compensation. He just saw the pain of our chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu, called him one day and handed him the papers to the land. His gesture was a beacon of hope in one of our darkest hours. And so, BUA survived again another Dangote trap. Today, we are now the largest Sugar refining concern in West Africa.”
“Our businesses continued to surge forward amid several other attempts, too many to mention now. In 2007, under President Yar’Adua’s visionary mandate to broaden Nigeria’s cement industry and break the monopoly in the sector, BUA was among the six companies selected and granted licenses. Our approach was unconventional but effective: we introduced a floating terminal – ‘BUA CEMENT I’, which is a cement factory built into a large ship, as a stopgap while we were working on securing our land-based cement plant.”
“What followed, however, was another act intended to drive us out of business. Our application to dock the floating terminal in Lagos met with resistance. We then decided to berth the ship at the terminal we owned in Port Harcourt. Despite this, we faced considerable pushback and it took the decisive intervention of late President Yar Adua, who directed that the Minister of Transport and the Chairman of NPA honour our right to contribute to the nation’s growth.”
“But the hurdles didn’t end there. The drama intensified when Orwell Brown, a Deputy Comptroller General who was also an older brother to a Dangote Staff, launched a sudden strike, attempting to deport our vessel’s entire expatriate crew. It was a Friday that is forever seared into our memory—the shock of our expatriates rounded up, their confusion as they were shepherded onto a Dangote-funded one-way local flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos en-route Asia via Emirates.”
“Upon hearing of what had happened, we reached out to Tanimu Yakubu, the then Chief Economic Adviser, who acted with the urgency that the situation demanded. His call to the CG of Immigration was a lifeline, and our expatriate team was brought back from the Emirates aircraft and not deported. The aftermath was swift action by the President, who ensured that such a misuse of power would not go unchecked. DCG Brown, caught in a tangle of undue influence, admitted what he did to the Minister, and he was later dismissed.”
“Through all these tribulations, BUA’s resolve has only strengthened. These events narrate not just the trials of a company but the resolve of its people, bound together by a shared vision and an unwavering belief in justice and fairness.”
“We also know what transpired whilst we were building our Edo Cement Plant. Everyone knows the issues we faced. The plant we are operating in Edo would not have been operating and contributing immensely to the economy, if not for the former President Buhari who had to intervene by calling Governor Obaseki that no staff must lose their jobs and the plant must not be shut down, no matter what happens.”
“We cannot say more as the matter is currently sub-judice – and is at the Supreme Court. During that time, Edwin Devakumar and Sunday Esan (two long-time and current staff of Dangote) were caught in leaked emails, whose content were not limited to sending thugs to foment trouble, close our factory as well as pushing bad press against us (See emails attached).”
“Same thing happened again with our Port Harcourt sugar refinery – the only sugar refinery in Nigeria that is outside Lagos. Dangote utilized every means possible to ensure the refinery did not take off and we raised the alarm. At some point, the terminal was taken away from us and was to have been given to someone else at the behest of Dangote. There had to be a presidential intervention again for NPA to do the right thing. Yet, we survived.”
“For over 32 years, we have been cast as the antagonists in a narrative woven with malice. We have not just survived; we have thrived, expanding our operations and contributing to Nigeria’s economy without resorting to subterfuge.”
“To Mr. Dangote and the Dangote Group, we say: Let us build, not belittle. Let us cultivate, not conquer. While we may share the marketplace, we need not share malice. We have nothing to do with your self-inflicted issues. Blame no one but yourself.”
“In closing, we at BUA remain committed to our ethos of innovation, integrity, and inclusiveness. Our history is not one of being handed anything on a silver platter. We will continue to serve our beloved country and its people with the diligence and honour they deserve. Our past, present, and future activities are rooted in the prosperity of Nigeria, undeterred by the winds of unfounded criticism. We remain focused on building and developing Nigeria.”
The management of Dangote Industries Limited, DIL, has refuted allegations that it engaged in illegal foreign exchange deals, warning those peddling the allegation of economic sabotage against the company to desist from such underhand practices.
It gave the warning following claims in some sponsored reports in the online media, suggesting that the company is being probed for alleged illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee who is probing the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the leadership of the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
In a statement, DIL described the allegation as “spurious and a rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice by a competitor, BUA Group, masquerading as a concerned Nigerian in 2016.”
Dangote recalled that the spurious and false story was started in 2016 and published in both BusinessDay and Leadership Newspapers, and accused the authors of the report of rejigging it to make it appear as authentic and a new development.
Dangote said: “It is saddening to note that this publication of Monday, March 14, 2016 in BusinessDay and Leadership newspapers where the author had alleged that about “$3billion foreign exchange sourced from the CBN were diverted to other Dangote companies outside Nigeria, a practice that encourages round tripping and effect money laundering since there is no proper documentation”.
DIL management explained that the same false report back “in 2016 was now being given a fresh false slant by one Ahmed Fahad purporting it to be a new petition directed to the attention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr. Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator probing the CBN, and subsequently different blogs and social media platforms have been carrying variants of this arrant falsehood to the detriment of our corporate reputation.”
The statement said “attempt by the authors of this misleading allegation to give it a fresh life in the media is baffling as the two newspapers that were misguided into publishing it as advertorial then (2016) have since publicly apologised to the Management of Dangote Industries Limited in writing as well as retracted the advertorial in its entirety in their respective publications.
“Indeed, BusinessDay and Leadership Newspapers admitted that the advertorial was sponsored by Messrs. BUA Nigeria Limited.”
DIL re-emphasised that foreign exchange for its numerous projects were sourced strictly from Interbank Foreign Exchange market in compliance with the CBN approvals and that “Letters of Credit” were established for the construction of the various operational plants and for the purchase of heavy equipment and spares required for the take-off of the Dangote Cement plants.
“The terms and conditions for payments on the transactions were clearly spelt out in the Letters of Credit instruments and in line with the International Chamber of Commerce – Universal Customs & Practice for Documentation Credit – UCP 600.
“It is also crucial to note that the Letters of Credit in favour of Sinoma International Engineering Co Ltd (a Chinese Government owned company), being the major contractor who accounted for over 75 per cent of these expenditure were paid against the presentation of all relevant shipping documents.
“There was no single payment that was made through any Dubai company owned by us,” the statement noted.
DIL explained its forex dealings thus: “all FX purchased in respect of our African Projects expansion were fully utilised for what they were meant for. The projects for which the FX was utilised are visible for everyone to see.
“It is on record that some of these projects were commissioned by Nigerian top-ranking government officials and in attendance were Chief Executives of various banks, Captains of Industries and the Presidents of the host countries supported by their Senior Government Officials.”
The company further stated that funds invested in its expansion project across African countries are legitimate capital investments in those countries and the repatriation of FX in sum of $576 million so far has helped to boost foreign Exchange earnings in Nigeria and stabilise the FX Market.
Besides, DIL emphasised that it had “always funded the construction of her various plants from Interbank FX Market in line with the CBN directives and relevant periodic progress reports were submitted to the banks for onward submission to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”