By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, Monday, said alleged handing over Ajaokuta Steel Company to a British firm as reported by some media organisations is fake news.

Adegbite while clearing air on the alleged handover of the multi-billion steel complex to a British firm, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Ayodeji Adeyemi, explained that a local Nigerian firm which has a British partner, had expressed interest in carrying out the Technical Audit, T.A, for free with no preconditions, and not that the Federal Government handed over Ajaokuta Steel Company to an alleged British firm.

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He said: “A local company in partnership with a British company has offered to execute the technical audit at no cost to Nigeria and with no preconditions.

“This was what I said at the media parley at the State House and not that Ajaokuta would be handed over to a British company for rehabilitation.”

Meanwhile, the Minister also assured that when the technical audit is completed, the result would be shared with all interested investors and potential partners in Ajaokuta Steel Plant resuscitation, which they would use to enter their submission bids.

He (Adegbite) pointed that for a transparent process the Federal Government appointed a firm in 2018 as Transaction Advisor.

“This firm has been revalidated by the BPP (Bureau of Public Procurement) and will guide and ensure a transparent due process in the selection of the eventual firm for Ajaokuta Steel restoration.

“The T.A will carry out all financial, environmental and technical due process to establish the successful firm and the mode of engagement. The various bids would then be ranked by the transaction advisor according to merits”, he added.

He explained that the outcome of the transaction advisors work would be taken to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for a robust discussion and eventual decision.

On the Russian firm, Messers TPE, earlier contacted for the T.A of Ajaokuta Steel Company by the Federal Government, he said the government had been in discussion with a Russian firm Messrs TPE (nominated by the Russian government) towards conducting the technical audit.

“The war between Ukraine and Russia has caused a setback to the proposed plan.

“It was difficult to move forward with the Russian firm due to international sanctions placed on Russia, which has also impacted Russian firms and businesses”, he said.

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