BFIG accuses UC RUSAL of stripping the assets of ALSCON.
In what appears a proof the allegations of massive asset stripping by UC RUSAL, the current managers of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom state, BFIGroup on Monday traced a steel oil tank belonging to the plant to the neighbouring Ibom Power Company (IPC).
BFIGroup is the Nigerian-American consortium that emerged the preferred bidder for ALSCON in 2004, but was disqualified in controversial circumstances by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), resulting in the ongoing legal tussle at the Supreme Court to determine the authentic owner of the plant.
BFIGroup’s Executive Vice President (Media Relations), Frank Scherer, told PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja that the illegal transfer of the assets of the company was uncovered following a tip off by concerned community people last week.
Mr. Scherer, who said the terms and conditions of the transfer of the property by the Russians were unclear, revealed that a top member of the Board of the Akwa Ibom State government-owned power generation company, Victor Udoh, admitted on inquiry that the transfer of the 50,000 litres cylinder steel oil tank and other property by UC Rusal/Dayson Holding Limited to IPC took place last week.
He expressed surprise that despite the ongoing legal case at the Supreme Court to resolve the ownership issue of the plant, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has failed to take over the plant and secure its assets after the attempt to sale the plant in 2004 ended in dispute.
“Even after the Supreme Court, the highest court in Nigeria, in its ruling of July 6, 2012 ordered the BPE to take over the plant and prepare to hand over to the preferred bidder that emerged at the end of the bid exercise in 2004,the privatization agency has always neglected to do its job,” Mr. Scherer said.
“Reports of massive asset striping and illegal removal of critical assets of ALSCON have always been reported to BPE against UC RUSAL. But, it is a shame that BPE has always shown that it has other selfish interests to protect over this national asset. This is a disturbing development when BPE keep denying and deceiving Nigerians and the Presidency about the serial pillage at the company.”
Following the development, the Executive President and Chief Executive of BFIGroup, Reuben Jaja, wrote to the Managing Director of Ibom Power, Gareth Wilcox, to demand some explanations over the transaction.
“On Wednesday, September 18, 2013 or thereabouts, a 50,000 Transformer Oil Tank and other equipment were illegally stripped and removed from the ALSCON’s premises and discreetly transferred to Ibom Power,” Mr. Jaja said.
“As you may be aware, the legal proceedings, with regard to the transfer of ALSCON ownership to BFIGroup Corporation USA, are now before the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Despite the Order of injunction placed by the apex court, we have received information from the public and media with regard to the widespread asset striping, criminal vandalization and outright sale of ALSCON property.Consequently, I urge you to secure the property as our legal counsel will be contacting you shortly,” he added.
But a spokesman for UC RUSAL, Tatiyana Smirnova, in a response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries on the allegation, dismissed the report, saying: “The information is false and does not correspond to reality.”
“No illegal stripping or removal of a 50,000 Litres Transformer oil Drain Tank from the ALSCON’s premise has occurred. ALSCON is the owner of the 50,000 Litres Cylinder Steel Tank (Transformer oil Drain Tank),” she said.
Mrs. Smirnova said “In compliance with the request for assistance from Ibom Power Company, ALSCON has allowed Ibom Power Company to temporary borrow the Steel Tank in accordance with the terms and conditions of Guarantee Letter signed by parties.
“Additionally, Ibom Power Company is responsible for the loading and transportation of the Steel Tank to and from Ibom Power site at Ikot Abasi under the strict supervision of ALSCON personnel.”
BPE officials wouldn’t comment for this story. The Bureau’s Director General Benjamin Dikki and spokesman Chigbo Anichebe did not answer or return calls to their telephones on Tuesday.
Mr. Dikki is also yet to respond to an email sent to him.