Intels Nigeria Limited has announced the severance of its business relationship with the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and members of his immediate family.
Mr Abubakar has always been linked with the ownership of the logistics firm as one of its major shareholders.
But, Intels on Monday confirmed that two of his sons, Messrs Adamu and Aminu were also part owners of the company.
Intels’ management said the severance of business ties with the former Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election in Nigeria followed his decision to exit the company with members of his family after selling off all their shares last year.
Intels Nigeria spokesperson, Tommaso Ruffinoni, said between December 2018 and January 2019, Mr Atiku, through his trust, named Guernsey Trust International, sold the equity holdings of Orlean-Invest Group, Intels Nigeria parent company, for a value of approximately $60million.
“In the period between April and May 2020, Mr. Atiku Abubakar converted his remaining shares into a convertible bond that he subsequently monetized up to a residual sum of approximately $29million.
When the former VP requested to cash in the above sum, Mr. Ruffinoni said Orlean-Invest Group contested to Mr. Abubakar an outstanding debt of $24.1million.
After waiting for some time without receiving any response from the Group on the matter, Mr. Abubakar was on November 30, 2020 was informed about the set off of such sum of money while Intels arranged to make the $5.4million balance of the money available to them.
Mr. Ruffinoni said the completion of the transactions effectively ended the era of Mr. Abubakar and his family’s involvement with the Group Orlean-Intels.
“Consequently, on December 1, 2020 our Group terminated also the working relationships with Mr. Atiku Abubakar’s sons, Mr. Adamu Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Aminu Atiku Abubakar.
“Since that day, our Group ceased to have any contacts, direct or indirect, with neither Mr Atiku Abubakar nor any member of his immediate family,” Ruffinoni stated.
Intels Nigeria was awarded the concession license under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration’s privatization programme to operate in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone terminal located at Eleme in Rivers State.
Since the privatization exercise, the company grew to become the dominant logistics firm operator in the sector for several years.
In the run up to the 2019 presidential elections in which Mr Atiku was one of the leading candidates contesting against the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government was said to have made moves to break Intels’ stranglehold on the sector.
The moves allegedly spearheaded by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, was said to have been a way to break Intels’ monopoly and dominance and open up the sector for other operators to come in.
But, political observers imputed political motives, saying the move was aimed at cutting Mr Atiku to size and whittling down his financial muscle to fund his presidential campaigns against Buhari.
The Presidency in a letter dated May 5, 2017, by the Managing Director of Josepdam Port Services Limited (JPSL) announced the end to Intels’ monopoly as part of efforts to carry out the reforms of the sector.
In November of the same year, the Federal Government announced the revocation of the resident permits of Intels’ expatriate staff, accusing the company and five others of operating without valid license within the country’s Oil and Gas Free Zone.
The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, named the other affected companies as PRODECO International Limited, West Africa Machinery Services Limited, Net Global System International Limited, MGM Logistics Solutions Limited, and ORIEAN Investment Limited.
The affected staff in the six companies were given up to two weeks, till November 30, 2017, to leave Nigeria, or be deported on the orders of the then Minister of Interior.