Lagos-based energy company, Aiteo Group, has described a recent report to investigate its founder and CEO, Mr Benedict Peters as unfounded and concocted to cause embarrassment.
The reaction follows a recent news release in an online platform (not Ventures Africa) where a group, Transparency Nigeria Group, had called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate Benedict Peters and his associates for allegedly laundering $38 million.
A statement by Spokesperson for Aiteo Group, Mfonobong Nsehe rebutting the report reads: “Recent news coverage in ‘The Street Journal’, an online publication containing an article attributed to an organisation that describes itself as the ‘Transparency Nigeria Group’, raising concerns regarding its unfoundedly irresponsible use of the name of Aiteo Founder and CEO Mr. Benedict Peters’ name as clickbait to energize a story relating to allegations surrounding a Sheyi Godfrey Money and affiliated companies.
“The organisation – for want of a better description – called for the reopening of investigations ostensibly concluded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC not of either Mr. Peters or Aiteo but of other commercial entities On its face, it is a nebulous, inane, malevolent call, clearly motivated by incomprehensible inappropriateness.
“It would have been typical to ignore the article and its offensive intent but in the current climate of essential and responsible dissemination of information in the business space – a concept that this indefinably obscure organisation has ignored – it has become unavoidably essential to provide a response that underscores the significance of accurate reporting and dispels any potential misconceptions that may arise from such article.
“First, any allegations that mention Mr Peters are false; unfounded; evidently concocted to cause high embarrassment and replete with ill-conceived conjecture. By reason of their utter falsity and malice, amongst other quite serious reasons, the allegations are refuted, denied and rejected. It is to be noted that the article even struggles to make any such connection but deliberately inserts Mr. Peters’ name presumably to confer some form of authenticity and elevation to their quest.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, it is important to state some of the following facts. In the past, Mr Peters has had to deal with highly politically motivated allegations from EFCC and others and despite distracting but thorough investigations, none progressed in any form but culminated in him being cleared of any culpability for any actions whatsoever. Indeed what has transpired over the period is that Mr Peters has been variously vindicated; his legal rights protected and affirmed by a number of decisions of several superior courts within the country. Remarkably, one or more of those cases have become the leading legal authorities on the issues that they have been decided upon.
“In November 2022, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in proceedings brought against Nigerian and UK authorities on the grounds that the defendants disseminated dishonest and fraudulent misrepresentations on the true ownership of the assets and properties belonging to him in the UK and so considerably damaged his legal and pecuniary interests gave him judgment and consequently awarded Mr Peters and his companies N200 million in damages.
“This serial and repetitive exoneration marks unchallengeable vindication, over several years, for Mr Peters and remains the recurring reason why the purposeless preoccupation of organisations like this will achieve little traction by their mischievously conceived distractions. These allegations do not align with the values, principles, and track record that Aiteo and Mr. Peters have consistently upheld. Mr. Peters has earned a reputation as a principled business leader in Africa, known for his unwavering commitment to ethical business practices. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated transparency, inclusivity, and a genuine dedication to community development. Under his leadership, Aiteo has not only emerged as Nigeria’s largest indigenous energy company but has also contributed significantly to the progress of the African economy.
“The allegations made by the Transparency Nigeria Group disregard the findings of a previous investigation into Mr Peters’ activities as stated. The call to reopen a concluded investigation based on unsupported claims of a dubious nature not only undermines the principles of due process but also unfairly and needlessly tarnishes the reputation of the individual who, hitherto, remains unblemished. Revisiting any cases and attempting to connect Mr Peter’s activities to Sheyi Godfrey Money is delinquent, serves no purpose, and is, in short, an irritating distraction.
“Turning to the reference to Sheyi Godfrey Money and the associated companies — Marine Assets Limited, Airsafe Aviation, and Jokai Global Services, it is manifestly clear and worth emphasizing that Mr Peters and Sheyi Godfrey Money are different individuals, each with their distinct business pursuits. Responsible reporting must steer clear of sensationalism and ensure accurate representation of all parties involved. Both organisation and article clearly struggle to make a connection between the individuals, a course of action that speaks very loudly to the purpose for which Mr. Peters has been mentioned.
“Aside from the common-sense fact that allegations against one individual or entity should not automatically implicate others who may have no connection to the alleged activities, it is plainly evident to observe that he has been mentioned purely to promote the veracity of the story by mentioning him, given his profile and stature in the business community in Nigeria. The practice of sensationalizing news articles through the use of well-known names as clickbait can – as in this case – result in unwarranted confusion and unfounded damage to reputation. Media outlets and organizations must prioritize responsible reporting, thorough fact-checking, and unbiased presentation to uphold responsible journalism, a situation that has not occurred with this article. Upholding transparent journalism not only serves the public interest but also safeguards the integrity of the news industry.
“Transparency Nigeria Group’s call for the EFCC to re-investigate these claims against Sheyi Godfrey Money appears to be a call for some form of accountability and transparency from the law enforcement agency. However, it remains equally vital to avoid unjustly linking unrelated individuals solely for the sake of sensationalism. While constructive criticism and authentic anti-corruption efforts are pivotal for a just society, they must be grounded in good faith, predicated on evidence and pursued transparently. The credibility of such endeavours relies on adhering to ethical standards and maintaining a commitment to fairness. Responsible reporting must steer clear of sensationalism and ensure accurate representation of all parties involved.
“In response to these concerning developments, it is imperative to critically assess the sources that shape public opinion. In consequence, the legitimacy of the organization that has raised these allegations cannot be questionable. Transparency Nigeria Group claims to be a grassroots anti-corruption organization, yet there is a distinct lack of verifiable information about its structure, objectives, and operations. The absence of official registration with governmental bodies in Nigeria or any other jurisdiction casts doubt on the organization’s credibility and motives.
“It is essential to critically evaluate the authenticity of an entity that chooses to operate in obscurity while making serious accusations against prominent figures. This is because the proliferation of digital media has provided a platform for diverse voices, both credible and dubious, to share their perspectives. Responsible journalism demands meticulous fact-checking, source verification, and the presentation of a balanced viewpoint. We encourage readers to exercise discernment, evaluating the credibility of sources before drawing conclusions based on sensational narratives.
“Aiteo stands firm in its rejection of the allegations made against its founder and CEO by Transparency Nigeria Group. We emphasize the importance of integrity, responsible journalism, and critical assessment in evaluating such claims. The impeccable character of Mr. Peters, the conclusions of the prior investigation processes, and the questionable legitimacy of the organization responsible for this current call all collectively cast doubt on the veracity or purpose of the allegations. As we navigate the complex landscape of business, media, and public perception, let us remain guided by facts, fairness, and a steadfast dedication to the truth.”
This announcement is made by Global Executive Outcomes.