From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal Government has set up a Presidential Inter-Agency Committee on recovery of loans granted to commercial banks and corporate organisations by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
AMCON was established by the Act of the National Assembly to prevent the collapse of the Nigerian banking sector following a major crisis that erupted with the Banking Reforms programme of 2008.
Members of the committee include representatives drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Federal Ministry of Justice as Chairman; Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of State (Aviation); Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, and Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Others members are Alhaji Ahmed Idris, Accountant General of the Federation; Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director General, Debt Management Office (DMO); Mr. Farouk Ahmed, Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and Alhaji Ahmed Kuru, Managing Director, AMCON.
A statement yesterday by Salihu Othman Isah, spokesman of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, revealed that the committee, headed by the AGF, has already been inaugurated.
According to the statement, the AGF recounted that the huge indebtedness to banks culminated in the eventual purchase of the toxic loans by AMCON to stabilise the banking sector and by extension the Nigerian economy.
He noted, however, that the debtors who cut across the aviation, banking and oil and gas sectors failed to repay the loans while some of them resorted to court actions all in a bid to frustrate the loan recovery efforts of AMCON, adding that in some cases, this was with active conspiracy of some financial institutions, among others.
Malami further explained that this resulted to Mr. President’s gracious approval and directive for the establishment of an Inter-Agency Committee by President Muhammadu Buhari to effectively pursue the loan recovery.
Among the terms of reference of the committee are to ascertain the current status of AMCON recoveries in terms of achievement from inception to date as well as the total outstanding viz value of assets; and to ascertain how government at various levels can be made to honour their debt obligations to the corporation.
It is also to request and obtain information from any person or persons and/or entity or entities onshore and offshore with the full support and weight of the Federal Government and its agencies towards the pursuit and realisation of the committee’s mandate; as well as to assist in third party investigation outside AMCON office relating to obligors and identify the criminal nature of commercial transactions that would assist in pursuing criminal prosecutions.
In addition, the committee will ascertain how government agencies can collaborate to support AMCON’s recovery effort in; (a) ensuring payments due to obligors are made to AMCON, (b) the possibility of going into a Joint Venture Agreement with AMCON, (c) the acquisition of forfeited assets from AMCON and (d) take-over of recalcitrant businesses/companies where feasible.
It is also expected to establish the working framework for the committee such that AMCON could have direct contact with the agencies for assistance and report be made to the committee on achievement and challenges as well as to design and come up with workable strategies to pursue aggressive recovery of the AMCON loans.