Sahara Group clarifies report on Rivers-owned First Independent Power Limited

By EDU ABADE, Business Editor

Sahara Group, an integrated indigenous energy services company and viable player in the distribution of aviation fuel across the country has refuted reports of alleged involvement in illegal transactions with a former governor of Rivers State.

Specifically, the company clarified that its attention had been drawn to reports alleging illicit financial transactions between it and the previous Rivers State Government led by former Governor Rotimi Amaechi.

In a statement made available to The Trumpet, Sahara Group stated that the report was misleading and a rehash of previous allegations for which the company had since provided detailed explanations. Upon assumption of office in May 2015, the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration constituted a panel in June 2015 to review the sale of Rivers State assets by the previous administration.

The Commission was chaired by Justice George Omereji. “As part of the process, Sahara Group was invited to appear before the panel and was asked to provide evidence of payment for the 70 per cent stakes in First Independent Power Limited (FIPL), which it acquired from the previous administration in a transparent transaction.

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“The judicial commission, thereafter, published a white paper report that erroneously indicated an outstanding balance of $28.4 million due from Sahara with respect to the transaction. Sahara Group disputed the claim and a reconciliation committee, chaired by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice was subsequently formed to confirm the payment records,” the state- ment reads.

The company further explained that committee confirmed and verified receipt of all payments it made. It, therefore, urged its stakeholders to disregard what it described as “misleading reports in the media,” as the records verified by the Rivers State Government showed that Sahara Group followed due process in line with the state government’s internal processes, following which Sahara emerged preferred purchaser for 70 per cent equity in First Independent Power Limited.

“Full payment was subsequently made by Sahara Group for the asset in line with the purchase agreement. The reports of illicit transactions are not new and are the same allegations that were reviewed and subsequently cleared by the Judicial Commission led by Justice Omereji and the reconciliation committee comprising the state’s Attorney General and the Commissioner for Justice.

“The Sahara Group remains committed to supporting the growth and maturation of emerging economies, through critical investments that drive economic growth responsibly.

To this end, we continue to support and work with the Rivers State Government as development partners to improve the economy and quality of life of Rivers people and all its residents “Sahara Group restates its commitment to integrity, corporate governance and transparency in our operations.

These values continue to drive the success of the Sahara Brand for over 25 years in keeping with global best practices and bringing energy to life in a responsible manner,” the statement added.

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