President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a new law which empowers the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to put the bank accounts of its debtors under supervision.
This was coming barely one week after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had set up a task force with a mandate to devise a strategy to recover the N5 trillion owed to the Corporation.
Among the Federal Government’s anti corruption agencies tasked to go after the debtors are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Muiz Banire, AMCON’s chairman, had earlier listed 20 individuals and companies that owe 67 percent of the N5.4 trillion debt to the the bad bank.
According to Mr Ita Enang, a presidential aide on National Assembly Matters, the new law signed as – AMCON (amendment) Act, 2019, empowers the Corporation to access the financial details of any of its debtors.
He said the law mandates AMCON to: “Obtain access to any computer system component, electronic or mechanical device of any debtor with a view to establishing the location of funds belonging to the debtor, and to obtain information in respect of any private account together with all bank financial and commercial records of any debtor of any eligible financial institution, banking secrecy, and the protection of customer confidentiality is not a ground for the denial of the power of the corporation under this section.’’
“It makes it mandatory for AMCON to, despite the convention of confidentiality of banking, business and contracting relations to furnish the Federal Government, ministries, departments and agencies with a list of recalcitrant debtors and then impose an obligation to seek clearance on the Federal Government, ministries, departments and agencies when the federal government, any ministry, department or agency proposes to contract with, or pay, debtors on the list furnished by the corporation.’’
According to Enang, the law also stipulates that: ‘’All money standing to the credits of the Corporation in any bank account is deemed to be in its custody and control. Where any proceeding is pending in any court of competent jurisdiction by or any AMCON, the grant of any interim, interlocutory or preservative order of attachment against the Corporation’s funds in any bank is prohibited. AMCON may require any eligible financial institution from which it has acquired an eligible bank asset or any director, manager or officer of such eligible financial institution to furnish information and produce documents, books, accounts and records in relation to any eligible bank asset acquired by the corporation from such eligible financial institution or in relation to the borrower or other obligator connected with such eligible bank asset.’’