THE truce brokered two years ago between billionaire businessmen Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group and Abdussamad Rabiu of BUA Group seems to have been short-lived.
In 2021, Abdullahi Ganduje, then Kano governor and current APC chairman, initiated a peace meeting between the two business moguls to foster cooperation. Elder statesman Alhaji Aminu Dantata also played a key role in the reconciliation.
However, both conglomerates are now engaged in renewed clashes after a brief respite. Dangote Group recently accused BUA of running a smear campaign in the media over alleged financial crimes.
Through their large investment empire that stretches across sectors, they place Nigeria on the spotlight for good.
While Dangote Group has accused BUA Group of orchestrating a malicious campaign in the media by disguising as a concerned citizen, the latter on the other recalled how it overlooked its rival’s antics aimed at running it out of business.
In a seven-page statement titled: “Economic Sabotage : Our Stand,” published in the media on November 2, Dangote Group dismissed claims on its investigation for alleged illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering running to $3.4billion under the watch of former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
The company described the report as a rehash of a similar report peddled out operating as a concerned Nigerian” in 2016.
“The attention of the management of Dangote Industries Limited has been drawn to an unfounded allegation making the rounds in some online media, suggesting that the Company is being probed over alleged illegal foreign exchange laundering running to $3.4bn allegedly perpetrated by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele over the years.
“As an organisation, it is not in our custom to respond to any spurious allegation. Still, since it is a rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice by a competitor masquerading as a concerned Nigerian in 2016, we are constrained to provide context to this issue.
“The reporting of this spurious foreign exchange allegation by some media houses was turned down by some credible traditional and online media news until it was featured as a paid advertorial in two Nigerian Newspapers BusinessDay and Leadership (Published on March 14, 2016) titled “Acts of Economic Sabotage by Dangote Cement” published in the name of David Osa Ighalo, from Benin, Edo State.
“It is saddening to note that this publication of Monday, March 16, 2016, wherein the author alleged that ‘monies went from the company in question to other sister Dangote Companies Outside Nigeria.
“It is estimated that almost $3bn, if not more, has been taken out of Nigeria through these means. This encourages round-tripping and, in effect, money laundering since there is no proper documentation has recently been 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,” the statement read.
Responding, BUA, in a statement issued by its management on Friday, recalled how it resisted Dangote’s antics for 32 years as both organisations engaged in an acrimonious battle for control in their various market segments.
“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.
“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 that 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.
“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 Olusegun 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 said.
It is unclear how this rift would be resolved this time around.
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