The office of Management Series (MMS) Plus newspaper in Lagos has come under the attack of the police over a publication of its alleging that a take-over of Dangote Refinery is looming in view of alleged mounting indebtedness to financial institutions.
MMS had published that Dangote Refinery, an oil refinery owned by the Dangote Group that is under construction in Lekki, is in trouble and unable to meet its financial commitments to its lenders.
This the paper said, may cause the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over the company.
Editor-in-Chief of MMS Plus, Kingsley Anaroke in a statement he released said Dangote Refinery authorities did not take kindly to the publication and are using crude tactics to intimidate the publisher including police raiding the office and harassing workers.
The statement, “Four armed policemen early today have invaded the headquarters of Kings Communications Limited, publishers of MMS Plus newspaper in an attempt to accost the Editor-in-Chief of MMS Plus, Kingsley Anaroke and the Editor of MMS Plus, Kenneth Jukpor over a story published on possible takeover of Dangote refinery by AMCON owing to increasing debts.
“It would be recalled that the seige by the police is a follow-up on earlier threats made by the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina at the weekend.
“Chiejina had threatened to deal with the editorial leadership of the news outfit via legal action following the news story; “AMCON May Take Over Dangote Refinery As Liabilities Swell” written by our Reporter and published by our media organisation.
“After several failed attempts to get the Editor to pull down the story, the Dangote spokesman instead of issuing a rejoinder or the legal action which he threatened against our media house resorted to bullying by sending four policemen to beseige the headquarters of Kings Communications Limited in Festac, Lagos since 7am.
“The policemen asked for keys to the personal office of the Editor -in-Chief. It should also be on record that Chiejina had searched for the photos of the news editor, Jukpor and Publisher, Anaroke on Sunday and sent them to the editor as a subtle threat which was ignored.
“This press statement has become necessary to draw the attention of the global press to the plight of journalists who refused to be gagged.”
According to the report, the oil refinery, may soon run into a deep financial crisis as a result of a $7 billion debt burden – a situation which indicates a possible takeover of the project by AMCON.
According to an analysis by the Money Management Series, Dangote Oil Refinery, a 650,000-barrel per day (BPD) integrated refinery project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos, Nigeria, was expected to commence production in 2016 with $3.3 billion financing secured in 2013.
With the refinery now projected to commence operations in 2025, Dangote Group’s indebtedness to financial institutions is estimated to hit $8.4 billion by 2025.
It noted that presently, the debt burden has risen to $7 billion with debt servicing of almost $700 million per annum.
The completion date of the refinery has been moved eight times.
Additional Report culled from SaharaReporters