The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has recovered over N1.4trn from recalcitrant debtors of banks in Nigeria.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru said this at the House of Representatives Committee on Banking, and Currency retreat with the management of AMCON among other stakeholders.
The retreat was themed, “Asset recovery as a tool for enhanced growth, and stability of the banking sector.”
He said the Corporation has recovered about N1.4trn, which comprises of cash N681bn; property forfeiture N279bn; share
forfeiture N140bn; and other strategic assets N208bn.
Similarly, a total cash recovery of over N116.9bn has been recovered on Polaris Eligible Bank Assets from date of acquisition to date.
Represented by Matthew Coker, Group Head, Asset Management Directorate, Kuru told the lawmakers that despite the Special Powers as provided by the Act, AMCON still struggles with the implementation due to the nation’s judicial system.
He said, “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 recovery process. There are delays in obtaining dates in the Court to hear AMCON matters.
“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 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.”
Also speaking, the Federal House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Banking and Currency, Victor Nwokolo disclosed that the National Assembly would as a matter of urgency summon the leadership of the various key committees that are overseeing the different agencies of the federal government to investigate why the Inter-agency Committee on the recovery of the huge outstanding debt owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are not working as directed by the Presidency.
Recall that in September of 2019, the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, inaugurated an Inter-agency Committee to speedily resolve the challenges in the recovery of over N5trn AMCON debts.
Osinbajo, who inaugurated the committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had tasked its members to deploy their expertise in the assignment to ensure that AMCON meets its mandate within reasonable timeline.
Members of the committee include heads and representatives of agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
Others are heads of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), the Federal Ministry of Justice and AMCON.
They were expected to review the status of the huge debts owed AMCON, deliberate on practical, legal and other strategies for the recovery of the outstanding debts.
The committee is chaired by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) who is also the ICPC chairman.
Nwokolo according to a statement from AMCON on Sunday lamented that it was sad that agencies of the federal government work at cross-purposes rather than collaborate to ensure that they support the federal government in recovering the debts.
He 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.”
Nwokole insisted that it was embarrassing that the person of Osinbajo had set up a committee that was supposed to force sister agencies of the government to collaborate and mount pressure on AMCON obligors within the ambit of the law to ensure that these debts are resolved without getting tangible results.
He said, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government are supposed to work in partnership to ensure that nobody short-changed the federal government.
“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”, said Nwokole
As a result of this, Nwokolo said the National Assembly would in no distant time organize 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.
He, however, commended the leadership of AMCON for its resolve to persistently chasing the “debtors some of whom feel they are bigger than the country.”
He assured AMCON that the National Assembly will continue to strengthen the laws of the country on enforcement.
He said enforcement has become critical given the tactics of the debtors, which has constrained AMCON from achieving optimum results especially since public funds were used to buy these loans that helped prevent systemic collapse of the banking sector in Nigeria at the time AMCON was created in 2010.