By Freda Okhiria, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) has indicated interest to partner the National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND to recover N17.5billion loan taken by their customers dated as far back as 1991.
EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu assured NERFUND of the commission willingness to collaborate.
The representative of the chairman, Mr. Ola Olukoyodi, the chief of staff to the acting chairman assured the agency of the EFCC willingness to collaborate with them, he explained some of the activities of EFCC saying they had signed MOU with several agencies, which will make them set up special committee to investigate cases.
He also requested them to do a special proposal to that effect, and promised to convey their request to the chairman.
The Acting Managing Director of NERFUND, Dr. Ezekiel Oseni had disclosed earlier that N17.5billion loan owed to them hadn’t been paid. He said, “we are struggling to collect the money, many that hold the bulk of our money are not willing to pay, eight per cent of our customers are owing us N14.2billion, thats owing over 80per cent of the total outstanding bill of NERFUND. Some of the loans are as far back as 1991.”
“I was appointed August, 2016, one of my mandates the government gave me is to collect the outstanding loan. This loan we are talking about were funds the government injected to the agency, at a time we took loan from African Development Bank up to the tune of $143million and this loan has to be paid, the loan was taken in 1992 or 93 thereabout.”
Explaining the challenges of collateral Dr. Oseni said, “having gone through the profile of our customers, we found out that some of them obtain loans without collaterals and at some instances collaterals are given in villages, remote areas where they cannot command economic value. The few that have their collaterals located in cities, this customers and their lawyers engages us in endless litigation, so that we can’t be able to recover it. Like I said we have cases that have been in court for more than 10 years just in every attempt to make sure that Nerfund is frustrated.”
“EFCC and NERFUND are government agencies having the same focus, we engage EFCC to help us collect our money. NERFUND was set up to support entrepreneurs, create jobs, you can imagine how many unemployment people we have in the country. I get job applications everyday and when I see them I feel so bad becos we can’t employ people. It is our collective wealth they are holding”, he said.
Explaining on the need to cut down staff he said, “When I came in I had about 85 staff, 16 of them were top management staff and this 16 people constitutes about 85-90 per cent of the total salary wages and we also saw that we were not doing anything rather than run after those who are owing us, collect and pay salaries which is not why I am here. Some of them voluntarily retired, while people way above 50 were put on voluntary retirement. So today I can say our wages bill which was about N25million is now about N3million.The last fund received from the government is in 2012.”