Alleged billionaire debtor: Contractors accuse 6th richest African, Mike Adenuga, of failing to pay debts of multi-million dollar company, Nigerian government petition

Some contractors at Conoil, an oil and gas conglomerate owned by Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga, are currently frustrated with the company’s consistent failure to service its debts.

Adenuga, chairman of Globacom, a telecommunications company, was at the time of filing this report ranked second richest man in Nigeria and sixth richest in Africa by Forbes.

Adenuga has an estimated worth of $7.4 billion.

Its mobile phone network, Globacom, is Nigeria’s third-largest operator with 55 million subscribers, while its oil exploration company, Conoil Producing, operates 6 oil blocks in the Niger Delta.

However, the contractors in different letters to the president’s chief of staff, Ibrahim Gambari and to the minister of state oil resources, Timipre Marlin Sylva, called for an investigation into the “tragic state” of Conoil.

In some of the letters, obtained exclusively by Sahara Reporters, they described executives of the Adenuga-owned conglomerate as taking sadistic pleasure in foregoing payments, and the business of not properly maintaining multimillion-dollar rigs, becoming in short a rudderless shadow. of his old self.

Creditors have pointed to joint ventures between the Nigerian government and Conoil which they say have been a dismal failure, leaving host communities and the public purse at their expense.

Steve T, Ejejigbe and Emiko Jaiye, managing directors of Stevicnel Enterprises and Ikengbesimi Ventures Limited respectively, wrote to Sylva on March 7, 2022.

They told the Minister that Stevicnel owed 50,429,698.83 Naira, while Ikengbesimi was to pay 169,710,837.62 Naira.

In barely contained fury, they said their companies weren’t the only ones owed money, as Conoil “has a well-known penchant for refusing to pay its bills”.

The pair added: “Its board and senior management engage in all sorts of underhanded business practices to make sure contractors don’t get paid. Conoil’s commercial manager Sina Olonade spearheads such disgraceful behavior, taking what can only be described as sadistic joy in toying with the heats of desperate entrepreneurs as their businesses and livelihoods regularly crumble before his eyes.

Regarding the Obodo field, which the two companies worked on between 2019 and 2021, the pair claimed it was “grossly mismanaged” and that although it is owned by the Nigerian government and Conoil is not is nothing more than a general contractor, the company failed. to develop the site at all.

They added that it had yet to produce a single barrel of oil in the 15 years of ConOil’s association with the project.

This, they say, has caused such a division within host communities that entrepreneurs have been kidnapped and held for ransom.

According to Messrs. Ejejigbe and Jaiye: “We can no longer understand Conoil’s modus operandi as an organization and have concluded that it is no longer in business to be a credible, strong and diligently managed organization, but that is now a shadow of its old self, lost and lost on a daily basis in what should be its main function as a company.

These companies are not the only ones to express their dissatisfaction with Conoil. Another letter obtained by SaharaReporters also documented how Transcontinental Integrated Services Limited owed 234,676,843 naira (two hundred thirty-four million six hundred seventy-six thousand eight hundred and forty-three naira) and was also scathing about Olonade and these partner’work.

Written by the company’s chief executive, Edekin Dickson Odion, and addressed to the president’s chief of staff, the letter dated February 28, 2022, once again documented the general problem of getting ConOil to pay for services received.

Odion said: “These struggles we have been through are now a common problem in the oil and gas industry, driven by a simple notion and denomination – Conoil refuses to pay contractors for work carried out. Its management team, led by the likes of Sina Olonade, derives obnoxious joy from forcing contractors to beg and plead for their outstanding debt(s) while making blatantly false promises to make payment and after which any communication of ConOil on this subject ceases to exist. ”

He said what shocked him and his colleagues was how the company continues to bid on multi-billion US dollar contracts when “it is well known in the industry that Conoil’s production platforms and infrastructure at its OML 59 and 103 unique risk assets are in a badly deteriorating and crumbling condition with a desperate need for a total overhaul.

Further proof that these are not isolated cases comes from another letter sent to Gambari by Lenimar Ocean Trawlers Limited.

Chidi Joe, Executive Director, Operations, wrote that he was owed N283,929,973.20 since 2015.

Joe added: “All of our efforts to secure payment of these exceptional funds have proven to be in vain. Conoil has a well-known reputation in the industry as a serial debtor, and even when presented with the large amount of money owed, its board and management do everything possible to ensure that contractors are not paid.

Another letter has also emerged from Armeco Waste Containers, dated October 21, 2021, addressed to ConOil’s contracting arm, Belbop Nigeria Limited, complaining of assaults on its staff members at the Obodo site.

According to the letter, two staff – Nga Perkins Efamdi (site security officer) and Hapi Mayomitsn (speedboat operator) have been missing since October 19, 2021 and their captors are demanding a ransom of N100,000.00 ( hundred million naira). .

Armeco goes on to state that it is suspending operations and withdrawing its personnel from the site until the abducted personnel are released and adequate security measures are put in place.

The decision of the various firms to try to involve the government marks a new dramatic turn in the controversies on the debt of Adenuga.

History of accumulating debts

Last October, it was revealed that Conpurex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Conoil, was being sued by creditors for a debt of more than US$7 million.

But even then, lawyers acting for companies that owed money limited their pleas to executives working under Adenuga.

And while many of his bills and invoices previously disowned by Conoil involved foreign companies, this time around it is domestic companies employing local labor that are at risk.