Undoubtedly, Benedict ‘Benny’ Peters is one of Nigeria’s most industrious business icons. Aside his brush with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, couple of years now, the reclusive founder and CEO of Aiteo Group, has been navigating the stormy oil business world and escaping the sharks coming his way. He has survived several economic blizzards that would have sunk many. But if there is one challenge he has not been able to summon courage to beat, it is to end his self-imposed exile.
For almost five years now, this wealthy but unobtrusive businessman has been on a self-imposed exile in Accra, Ghana after he was declared wanted by Nigeria’s anti-graft body, ostensibly on allegations that he was involved in a $115 million bribe given to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 election. Despite the chain of legal successes that culminated in the eventual removal of his name from the list of wanted persons by the EFCC, and technical declaration of him as a free man —since 2018, he has stayed back in his Ghana temporary abode from where he has been running his multi-billion dollars oil trading business. But he is fortunate to have his older brother, Francis, holding forte in Nigeria as Deputy Group Managing Director. However, recently, there was a bit of excitement among many of his friends, associates and staff when reports started swirling around about Peters ending his self-exile and likely returning to Nigeria as soon as the global pandemic abates. This was given a fillip after he joined other business elite in the oil industry to donate over $30 million to fight COVID-19. But just as many are already upbeat about welcoming the philanthropist and oil tycoon back home, it was learnt that they might have to wait a little longer.
A close source told Spotlight early this week that he is not ready to leave his Accra, Ghana new home anytime soon. As much as he is willing to return home to a warm embrace of his family and close-knit inner circle, the source said, the business mogul is already having a ball expanding his business frontiers in the international arena with operations in several African countries. That’s aside his fears that those who initially hunted and tried unsuccessfully to rope him into the bribe scandal are still very much around and within the system. More importantly, the billionaire businessman is said not to give much room to maneuvering as he delegates very little, except to Francis, his older brother, who handles Aiteo’s relations with banks and the government. Yet, his brother and the team he left at the headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria were said to have impressed him a lot, doing a yeoman’s job adding to his fortune and the group —with an estimated net worth of almost $3 billion —making Peters, who at a time ranked the 17th richest person in Africa and the 7th richest in Nigeria, see no need to rush home for now.