Billionaires feud publicly over impropriety in Nigeria
Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote blamed fellow tycoon Abdul Samad Rabiu for trying to instigate an inquiry into alleged money laundering at companies run by Africa’s richest man.
In a seven-page advertisement published in local newspapers, Dangote alleged that Rabiu was behind an attempt to get President Bola Tinubu’s government to embroil Dangote Industries Ltd. in an investigation into the Central Bank of Nigeria. Dangote, whose companies aren’t under any investigation, runs Nigeria’s biggest cement maker and is about to start operating Africa’s largest oil refinery.
A spokesman for Dangote didn’t answer phone calls or respond to messages, while a spokesperson for Rabiu’s BUA Group couldn’t be reached for comment.
The allegations, which surfaced in 2016, were resurrected when Tinubu in July ordered a probe into operations at Nigeria’s central bank. Tinubu alleged that several unidentified Nigerian businesses engaged in money laundering as the central bank oversaw a complex foreign-exchange regime that critics say encouraged arbitrage.
“As an organization, it is not our custom to respond to any spurious allegation,” Dangote Industries said in the advertisements published Friday. “But to the fact that this is a rehash of a similar report peddled by a competitor masquerading as a concerned Nigerian in 2016, we are therefore constrained to provide context to this issue.”
Rabiu responded hours later, accusing his rival of a litany of infractions against his business since the early 1990s, including giving him a dud check on one occasion.
“To Mr. Dangote and the Dangote Group, we say: Let us build, not belittle,” Rabiu’s BUA Group said in a post on X. “While we may share the marketplace, we need not share malice. We have nothing to do with your self-inflicted issues. Blame no one but yourself.”
A previous dispute between the tycoons over Rabiu’s sugar plant was resolved in 2021. The accord between the two that year was mediated by the former governor of Kano state, according to a statement from the governor.
Dangote has a net worth of $16.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Rabiu’s wealth is valued at $5.5 billion.