Benedict Peters may not be the first name that comes to mind when there is talk about wealthiest people in Nigeria. But, as a key player in the oil and gas industry, Peters can be described as one of Nigeria’s most industrious business icons and one silent billionaire that is rarely in the news until recent years. The founder and CEO of Nigerian energy conglomerate Aiteo Group in 2015 scampered into self-imposed exile after a brawl with Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But ever since, the oil tycoon seems not allowing the initial challenges to slow him down a bit nor let exile have any negative impact on him as his businesses keep expanding in leaps and bounds even beyond the shores of Nigeria.
A couple of years ago, Peters’ offshore company, Bravura Holdings Ltd, secured a platinum concession in Zimbabwe, a country rated as the world’s third-largest platinum group metal reserves. Peters is said to have committed at least a billion dollars to mine platinum in his concessioned 3,000 hectare (7,413-acre) facility located in Selous, not too far from the south of Zimbabwe’s capital – Harare. Peters is one of the privileged billionaires with offshores assets. But some of these assets have pitted him against Nigerian and British agencies —both had levelled against him a cocktail of allegations of corruption, bribery and money laundering. However, just as the Ebonyi State-born billionaire has been recording economic successes, he has also been having a series of victories over these legal hurdles on his path both at home and abroad. Fresh of these was the recent Federal High Court, Abuja’s cancellation of corruption allegations against Peters in connection with some of his properties in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The court dismissed all allegations levelled against the billionaire and ruled that Peters is a person of legitimate means and livelihood. It averred that Peters and his companies are the rightful owners of four properties legitimately acquired but incorrectly listed as belonging to a certain controversial former minister. As a result, the court awarded Peters and three of his companies N200 million ($455,000) in damages jointly and severally against EFCC, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and five others. Aside from his brush with the EFCC, he has been navigating the stormy business world and escaping the sharks coming his way.