The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and four other agencies have come under criticism of the House of Representatives following their failure to recover debts owed to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
An inter-agency body had been set up by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on July 31 to assist AMCON in its debt recovery effort. The group consisted of CBN, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Others were Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). They were tasked to strengthen AMCON in its bid to recover N5 trillion debts.
Chairman of the committee on banking and currency in the lower chamber, Victor Nwokolo, faulted the group, saying they have not been working towards their goal since they were created.
During a retreat in Lagos on Sunday, organised by the lawmakers, including AMCON management and other stakeholders, Nwokolo said the members of the inter-agency were not collaborating.
Speaking to stakeholders at the retreat, Nwokolo said, “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.”
He added that, “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.”
He further revealed that, “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.”
Since its establishment in 2010, AMCON it had recovered N1.4 trillion. The recovered funds included N681 billion cash, N279 billion worth of property forfeited, N140 billion share forfeiture, as well as N208 billion worth of strategic assets, and over N116.9 billion Polaris EBAs from the period of acquisition to date.
Meanwhile, the government recovery debt agency boss, Ahmed Kuru, who was represented by AMCON’s group head, asset management directorate, Matthew Coker, blamed the judiciary system of Nigeria for the difficulty in recovering the debt.
“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.”Kuru said.
“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.
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