BUA sugar refinery: Trade Minister reverses directive on sugar ban

By Benjamin Arida//:

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, has reversed an earlier letter he sent to the Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, prohibiting the importation of sugar from the free trade zones into the Nigerian customs territory.

Report revealed that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Managing Director/CEO of the Nigerian Ports Authority were copied in the letter.

Adebayo’s letter was predicated on a petition to him by the chairman, Dangote Industries Limited, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; and chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Mr. John Coumantaros.

Reacting, the BUA Group chairman, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, said that his investment in Port Harcourt did not in any way pose a threat to the country’s sugar policy. Rather, he said that it would checkmate arbitrary price increase by the major players among other benefits to Nigeria.

With some agencies of the federal government acting immediately on the minister’s letter, particularly the NPA, which directed all Terminal operators to ensure strict compliance with the directive in a letter dated 8th April. This is despite the court order obtained by BUA refraining the ministry and all the agencies including the NPA from disturbing its operations pending the outcome of the court case.

However, some government agencies hastily acted on the letter without recourse to the court order in a move that insiders say embarrassed the government.

According to credible sources, Adebayo has written a letter to the Minister of Finance, rescinding his earlier directive while asking every agency of government concerned to stay action on the matter.

Meanwhile, the MD/CEO of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman has been suspended from office. She got her letter today and has vacated the office for an acting MD, Mohammed Koko. The reason for her suspension is still sketchy at the time of this.

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