The Anyiam-Osigwe family of Nigeria says none of its members or their company received any payment or compensation from the government of Zambia for crude oil supply.
In a protest letter to the Deputy High Commissioner, Zambian High Commission, Abuja, the family, in a letter signed by Mr Michael Anyiam-Osigwe, urged the government to retract in its entirety what it called a false and baseless allegation.
The family said it was determined to take all necessary measures to protect its integrity and obtain redress for what it said was a “gross act of recklessness.”
Zambia’s Permanent Secretary, Mines, Energy and Water Development, George Zulu, had said he recently travelled to Nigeria where he met a businessman, George Anyiam-Osigwe, who, according to him, claimed that he had been acting as a middleman between Zambia and Nigeria for the supply of crude oil.
Zulu said the oil purported to have been supplied did not reach Zambia, yet documentation existed indicating that the Zambian Government had paid for the supply of the commodity.
He said: “In Nigeria, there’s a gentleman called George Anyiam-Osigwe, a Nigerian national, who claimed he was given $5million commission from the Zambian Government over the deal.
“I sought permission to go to Nigeria to speak to Anyiam-Osigwe and it is true. This man was engaged.’
But Anyiam-Osigwe denied participating in any such oil transaction.
In the letter to the Zambian Deputy High Commissioner, Ambassador George Mpombo, Anyiam-Osigwe wrote: “Please see the attached Zambian newspaper publications. As you very well know, the Permanent Secretary Mr George Zulu never met me or any member of my family during his said visit to Nigeria and the company in question, SARB is totally unknown to me or anyone in my company.
“You would recall that you called me on my cell number to inform me of the official from Zambia who was visiting Nigeria on a fact finding mission with respect to the G-G crude contract awarded to Zambia by Nigeria.
“I had informed you that I was out of town and would not be able to meet with the visiting official in Abuja. Later on I received another call from you and you put the visiting official on the phone.
“My conversation with him was to the effect that he was interested to know what happened to the crude oil allocations of the Zambian G-G. My response was to the effect that as we have in the past made several representations which clearly stated our role in helping to secure the G-G contract and the injustice we suffered when we were denied the right to operate the contract.
“Our representations also explained that we have no idea whatsoever what became of the crude oil allocations under the said contract as we were edged out of the transaction without any compensation of any kind for our efforts and were not privy in any way to what happened with the contract thereafter.“
“It is, therefore, imperative that this false and baseless allegation is retracted in its entirety without any delay. We at no time received any form of money directly or indirectly from the Zambian government or any organisation or individual in Zambia or any where in the world on account of our honest efforts in assisting President Rupiah Banda’s government to secure a G-G crude oil contract from Nigeria.
“On the contrary we were denied our rightful place to act as operators of the contract having facilitated the award of the contract. Secondly, the Zambian Daily Mail quoting the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development, George Zulu, claims that ‘according to bank records, US$5million was paid to a Nigerian national identified as Anyamu Osigwe ….”
“We challenge any one or organisation, the Zambian Daily Mail, including the government of Zambia to show evidence that any member of the Anyiam-Osigwe family or their company was paid a single cent or any money in any currency or any form of compensation on account of our having assisted the government of President Rupiah Banda to obtain a G-G contract from the government of Nigeria.
“In fact we make bold to say that we have had no financial dealings of any discription or value with any government or company in Zambia at any given time.
“I would therefore appreciate your most urgent intervention in bringing this complaint to the attention of Mr. George Zulu and other relevant officials including as high as the president of Zambia to ensure that everything necessary is done to retract this erroneous allegation with immediate effect.
“We on our part are unreservedly determined to take every and all necessary measure to protect our integrity and obtain redress for this gross act of recklessness. I look forward to your prompt response.”
Another member of the family, Mr Kennedy Anyiam Osigwe, said in a statement yesterday that the family had protested the former President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda for what he called an ill-treatment they got over a business transaction they initiated with Zambia for which they got the approval of Nigerian government/Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to supply them crude oil.
The statement read in part: “Apart from the crude oil sale on the level of government-to-government, we also have on the table other developmental initiatives for which we were working with the Zambia government with some of our international partners which we cannot proceed with because of the bad faith which the former Zambia government exhibited on the crude oil sales.
“After several meetings with former president Banda and his cabinet members in United States, Lusaka and Nigeria and after committing our resources to get necessary approval for an oil trade with Zambia, the government without any courtesy of even informing us went behind us to execute the business with a company known as SARB.
“I am sure upon further investigation Mr. Editor sir, via Corporate Affairs Commission and NNPC which is the custodian of Nigeria’s oil trade, The Nation newspaper can unravel who the owners of SARB are, that is if SARB is a registered Nigerian company and who appointed them as agent for the Zambia government on the said crude sale contract with Nigeria government.
“Since money was also transferred as alleged, 5million US Dollars, it will be necessary the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also carried along on how such amount of money was paid to a Nigeria company if the receiver’s bank is a Nigerian bank. All these are posers that The Nation newspaper should unravel.
“On investigation, we have been reliably told SARB is a company directly linked to former President Banda and his MMD party bigwigs. The current government in Zambia cannot and should not use us as a canon folder in its proxy war with the former government headed by President Banda. The government of Zambia should use its might and resources available at his disposal to know who the owners of SARB are in Zambia instead of chasing shadow.
“We committed no crime by initiating a business transaction with a legitimate government of Zambia and also securing the necessary approval. If after playing our part the former government of Zambia under the leadership of Banda chose to act irresponsibly by- passing to execute the contract without our knowledge, we cannot be held liable.
“We want to state without equivocation that Zambian governmentt acted in bad faith and betrayed us. Any attempt by them to muddle the facts and use us as fall-guy after having their finger burnt will be vehemently resisted.
“We have instructed our lawyers in Lusaka to take appropriate legal action against Permanent Secretary, Mr George Zulu for defamation of character and seek redress.
“We remain genuine businessmen as Anyiam-Osigwe brothers and we will never soil our hard earned reputation and the good name our father bequeathed to us. We do business all over the world and nobody has ever accused us of any shady deal and we take exception to this one and we will fight it with everything we have got.”