The Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, has appealed to the judiciary to help in speeding up the recovery of over N5 trillion in outstanding debts which he says are in the hands of a few Nigerians.
During a visit to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, at the weekend, he said having secured the signing of the AMCON Amendment Act 2019 into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, the agency was appealing to the judiciary for more support to achieve the recovery expectations of the Federal Government.
Speaking to Justice Bulkachuwa and other justices of the Court, Kuru said the new act had expanded the definition of the obligors of AMCON to include the directors, meaning that AMCON would more than ever before, need the support of the judiciary especially the federal High Court, which is AMCON’s court of first instance and most importantly, the Court of Appeal if the corporation stands the chance of recovering the over N5.4trillion owed it by obligors before the sunset.
Highlighting aspects of the amended Act to the justices, the AMCON boss said: “The amendment has empowered AMCON to the extent that unlike what obtained before, in the case of an appeal against the final judgment, the appellant or obligor must now deposit the judgment sum in an interest-yielding account of the court while in the case of interlocutory appeal, the appellant or obligor will also have to deposit the total sum claimed by AMCON in an interest yielding account of the court.
“The act has also granted permission to place bank account of debtors or the like under surveillance by ex-parte order of the Federal High Court; access debtor’s computer systems for the purpose of locating debtor’s funds by ex-parte order of the Federal High Court; permits AMCON the right to obtain access to debtors’ banking, financial and commercial information and Bank Verification Number (BVN) from banks by ex-parte order of the Federal High Court as well as impose an obligation on the Federal Government and Federal Ministries departments and Agencies (MDSs) to seek AMCON clearance before contracting with or making payments to recalcitrant debtors on AMCON debtor list.”
Kuru also noted that the act had now empowered AMCON to demand from selling Eligible Financial Institutions (EFIs), their directors or officers, delivery of information, books, accounts, records and documents in relation to acquired Eligible Bank Assets (EBAs) as well as impose fines for failure on compliance. In the same breadth, the amended act, Kuru added, subject to Land Use Act and Section 36 expressly vests legal title to acquired EBAs and in collateral (tangible and intangible) securing such acquired EBA, and vesting power of sale, possession, management, etc., in AMCON to exclusion of all other creditors notwithstanding that only equitable security exists in such collateral, just to mention a few.
Justice Bulkachuwa who praised the management of AMCON for working very hard to get the act amended said it would go a long way to helping the corporation in its recovery drive. She said it had always been the priority of the Court of Appeal to adjudicate justice as fast as possible, adding that the Appeal Court would continue to do its best to see how the court fast tracks the processes of the court including AMCON-related cases.