A potential diplomatic row is looming between Nigeria and Russia following last week’s order by the Supreme Court that Russian company, Rusal, which owns 85 percent of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom state, should cede its ownership to BFI Group, headed by American-Nigerian, Reuben Jaja.
The apex court said the assets should have gone to the U.S. based BFI Group, when ALSCON was privatised five years ago.
Rusal said the ruling was against the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), which handled the privatisation and gave Rusal the green light to acquire the stake for $205 million in 2007. The decision would thus not affect its ownership of ALSCON, the company said.
“The ruling could … to a significant extent undermine Russian-Nigerian investment and economic cooperation and incur negative consequences for the whole scope of bilateral ties,” the ministry said in a statement on its website www.mid.ru.
“We urge the Nigerian government to take the necessary actions in order to prevent potential damage to the existing fruitful and mutually beneficial relations,” the statement said.
BFI Group, headed by American-Nigerian Reuben Jaja, took BPE to court, saying the agency breached its contract. The Supreme Court ruling last week ordered that BPE revert to the original preferred bidder and BFI Group pay the agreed price of $410 million for ALSCON.