The House of Representatives have decided to summon the heads of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), over their inability to recover the N5 trillion owed to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Chairman of the committee on banking and currency in the green chamber, Victor Nwokolo, made this known during a retreat organised by the House of Representatives for AMCON and some stakeholders in Lagos, this weekend.
Victor berates CBN, NFIU, NDIC, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for failing in their task as inter-agency to help AMCON to recover the debt.
Between 2010 till date, AMCON has been able to recover N1.4 trillion debt owed to the government, with N5 trillion outstanding. It has recovered some of the debt through cash of N681 billion and forfeiture of N279 billion and N140 billion of property and shares respectively, amongst others.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on July 31, had established the inter-agency to collaborate with AMCON, but Nwokolo said that has not been happening, leaving the government’s debt recovery agency to handle the recovery process alone.
He said in a sane clime, the group were supposed to join forces in ensuring nobody shortchanges the federal government. According to Nwokolo, the heads of the institution will be invited for a retreat to discuss strategy to recover the outstanding debt.
“We cannot continue like this because we are answerable to the people of Nigeria and our constituencies as lawmakers. They will hold us accountable if we fail to take decisive actions that would help AMCON to recover these huge outstanding debts.” Nwokolo said during the retreat.
The lawmaker said, “In a sane clime, ministries, departments and agencies of the government are supposed to work in sync to ensure that nobody shortchanges the federal government, but from reports we get from AMCON, it is obvious that they are facing frustrations from not just the obligors but from the judiciary, as well as ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government. There is no reason why that should happen in a decent country.”
In a bid to set the inter-agency on course, Nwokolo told the stakeholders they will summon CBN’s Godwin Emefiele, NDIC’s Bello Hassan, EFCC’s Abdulrasheed Bawa and NFIU’s Modibbo Tukur.
“The national assembly would, in no distant time, organise another retreat which would involve about six critical stakeholders to discuss, in great details, the strategy that would be adopted to ensure that Nigeria recovers its money, which some heartless obligors owe the country, and for which they are hiding under all manners of trickery to evade repayment.” He said.
Judiciary to blame for failure to recover N5 trillion debt?
Speaking at the same event, AMCON Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru, said the judiciary process in Nigeria has a role to play in the delay to recover funds.
Kuru, who was represented by AMCON’s group head, asset management directorate, Matthew Coker, said orders are for sale in the court, and sometimes there are conflicting orders by the courts, couple with slow process.
“Honorable members, the corporation’s recovery processes at this point majorly depends on the judiciary i.e., obtaining possessory orders or orders for sale.
“The slow pace of our court processes and sometimes conflicting orders by the courts, especially at the federal high court (FHC), which is our court of first instance, frustrates the recovery process. There are delays in obtaining dates in the court to hear AMCON matters.” The AMCON boss said.
Kuru disclosed, “Deposit of judgement sum as provided for in the act is not enforced by the courts, some of the obligors are still active contractors of the government.
“They carry out businesses with the government with debtor company names or other pseudo names and the BOFIA Act that provided for a special tribunal on recovery and enforcements would have hastened the adjudication of our matters in court if the judiciary had constituted a task force specifically in that regard.” He said.