AMCON, ICPC to collaborate on debt recovery drive
The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, on Wednesday, in Abuja, disclosed of plans to collaborate with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), towards the recovery of N5trillion owed by obligors.
He made the declaration when he received the Board and Management of AMCON led by the Corporation’s Board Chairman, Dr. Muiz Banire.
Owasanoye, who received the delegation at ICPC headquarters, described the huge debt profile of AMCON as a sobering situation, especially as the figure represents about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s 2019 budget.
He further said the situation has become an existential challenge for Nigeria since the few people who are holding the country to ransom are still walking free and waxing strong in the society.
Considering the positive impact the funds would have in the economy if recovered, Owasanoye declared that the time has come for ICPC and other relevant sister agencies to partner with AMCON and support the debt recovery drive.
He also pledged ICPC’s readiness to work with the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, AMCON, Ahmed Lawan Kuru, and the Board members to recover as much of these debts as possible before sunset.
He recalled that Vice President, Prof. Yomi Osinbajo, had also raised concerns over the huge debt in a similar forum, saying the Commission is interested in tracing the loans transactional history, especially the high profile ones with a view to establishing any irregularity that could have contributed to their hard-core nature, with obligors refusing to pay.
“We have to be practical in our approach. Something needs to be done and very fast too, given the approaching of AMCON sunset because this is public funds we are talking about here.
We need AMCON and ICPC to work closer and develop a strategy that would work. We need the public to know the opportunity cost of the huge debt to the Nigerian economy, we need to share information as sister agencies locally and internationally and treat this matter as a last lap race by setting up a joint taskforce to deal with this sobering issue,” he added.
Owasanoye insisted that AMCON obligors should be brought to book, to serve as deterrent to others, adding,
“If these matters are not properly challenged and well-treated, we can predict based on history that these set of people or their clones would repeat this circle of borrowing, and would tell you that in the past, some people borrowed and defaulted and nothing happened. So something has to be done.”
Earlier, both Banire and Kuru, had highlighted some of the high-profile obligors of the Corporation, including some 350 individuals that account for 80 per cent of the entire debt obligation. They also reiterated the fact AMCON requires collaboration of the ICPC to go after these obligors, especially it does not have the power on its own, to invite, arrest or prosecute obligors, while the court remains the only option.