A TOP official of the Zamfara State government (names withheld) demanded gorro (bribe) from me but I said no. The next thing we saw was that state officials went to demolish the refinery site and heliport. It is a pity, a real pity.”
Those were the words of Alhaji Mamman Yaro Shagari, in reaction to the demolition of a foreign-government-backed mobile petroleum refinery and heliport by the incumbent Zamfara State Government of Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari.
Alhaji Mamman, a younger brother of Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, levelled the allegation in an interview with Morning Mail following a protest by the company to President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President David Mark and House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Bello Tambuwwal.
The company, BSM Int’nal Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited, in a letter exclusively obtained by Morning Mail, is demanding the refund of its investments in the project put at about 1.5 billion Euros by the end of this month.
Both projects began during the administration of the state’s former Governor, Alhaji Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi (Dallatun Zamfara), who gave the promoters full support, including letters of guarantee to the government of Romania, as well as government agencies in the country.
“When the new administration came in, a top official of the government demanded bribe from me for the government to allow the project to continue. I told the official that the project is meant to end the problem of fuel supply in the North West, if not the entire North; we will no longer have to bring in fuel from the South for us in the North; it will create massive employment for our people. How can you demand bribe for that kind of project to continue?” Alhaji Mamman told Morning Mail he queried the official.
The Chairman, Board of Directors of BSM, Otunba Lai Ogunbadero, told Morning Mail that the top official who was fingered by Alhaji Shagari also made a similar demand from him but got the same response.
His words: “Our foreign partners were alarmed. This was a project that had taken years of planning and firm assurances from us to the foreign governments. In the beginning, the foreign companies were sceptical about investing in Nigeria. After firm assurances, including guarantees from the Nigerian Embassy and the then sitting government, the foreign companies decided to work with us. After so much investment, a new government and demolished it. When President Jonathan visited the state about two years ago, one of the aircraft from the presidency landed on our heliport.”
Ogunbadero said further: “The mobile refinery is meant to put an end to fuel crisis in the state and environs. It will also create employment. The heliport had been providing easy air transportation for the state. There is no government money in the project, everything that went into the installation of the mobile refinery and the heliport was privately-sourced. Our company has the Right of Occupancy to the land, we have approvals from the NNPC, the former Zamfara State House of Assembly passed a motion approving the establishment of the company. It is simply unbelievable that anyone could decide to demolish them without giving any reason.”
A source told the Morning Mail that the demolition is part of the ongoing war of attrition between the Governor and his predecessor, Alhaji Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi (Dallatun Zamfara).
When contacted, Alhaji Shinkafi told Morning Mail the project was a private arrangement.
A short text message from the former Governor in reaction to enquiries from Morning Mail reads: “I got the same letters from him (Ogunbadero). I know the projects are on process as I left. You can find out, it is private development facilitated by state.”
Enquiries sent to incumbent Governor Yari through his telephone number 08066****23 and 08033****54 were neither acknowledged nor responded to.
Mum was also the word from the state Commissioner for Commerce, one Alhaji Muhammed Zurmi through his telephone number 08033****06 and his Information counterpart, Ibrahim Birnin, on 08091****92
BSM also wrote to the Inspector General of Police, (IGP), Mr. M.D. Abubakar ,who incidentally is an indigene of Zamfara State, soliciting his support and intervention before Governor Yari’s sudden destruction of the property.
Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Romania, Mba Ama Mba, had supervised, witnessed and confirmed European Partners support for the BSM, writing to several agencies of government, particularly Nigeria (FAAN), among others.
Alhaji Shagari told Morning Mail that, like BSM Consortium, he has also written protest letters to the Sultan of Sokoto and former President Shagari about the demolition exercise, expressing shock and distress over the issue.
BSM’s protest letter to Senate President Mark and all senators, dated 14th February 2014, reads:
“NOTIFICATION ANDDEMAND FOR COMPENSATION ON BSM PETROLEUM REFINERY & INTEGRATED AVIATION INVESTMENTS WITH HEAD OFFICE AND BSM HELIPORT COMPLEX GUSAU DESTROYED BY ZAMFARA STATE GOVERNOR H.E. ABDULAZEEZ YARI FOR PERSONAL & POLITICAL REASONS.
“BSM Int’nal Petroleum Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited Consortium letter addressed to His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR), President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria refers and we wish to solicit your intervention pursuant to the full recovery of our funds from Zamfara State Government of Nigeria.
A. “Your Excellency and all Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, please find attached herewith documentary and pictorial evidence of BSM Consortium’s investment which was maliciously looted and demolished by Zamfara State Government, including the part A and B of the video recordings which we shall forward to your office for substantiation.
B. “It is imperative to state here that as the deadline given to the Zamfara State Government expires in March 2014, we shall not hesitate to do all within our precincts to recover the total loss incurred by BSM Consortium.
C. “We look forward to acumen and favourable disposition and directive to the relevant agencies of Government towards resolution of this matter with the hope of having a full recovery of our investments from Zamfara State Government within the earliest time possible.”