N5tn Debt: Stakeholders laud FG over AMCON (Amendment) Act 2019

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…say it will fast track debt recovery, reduce litigations

By Kayode Tokede

Stakeholders have commended the Federal Government move the amended Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Act 2019 to put the bank accounts of its debtors under supervision.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday signed the new law.

AMCON  that was established by the Act of the National Assembly of Nigeria in July 2010 with an intended 10 years lifespan is reported to be  owed N5 trillion debts.

The agencies tasked to go after the debtors are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Ministry of Justice.

Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, the stakeholders expressed satisfaction with Federal Government decision to use financial technology to recover the debts.

They urged the government to be decisive in debt recovery as AMCON wind up by 2030.

A lawyer and a finance expert, Dr. WunmiBewaji, speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect said, the new amendment stands a good opportunity for AMCON to recover N5 trillion debts in a short period of time.

He noted that  government needed to show more political will and dedication in recouping debts from group of individual holding the country’s economy to ransom.

According to him, “The amendment  can only work if the debtors are solvent. If they are not solvent, it will be an amendment in futility.   In the law of insolvency, the creditor has every right to take over the assets of a debtor. The primary aspect is the credit balance of the debtors should be the first plan of attack.

“Our people are not sincere. These individuals are owing AMCON N5trillion. How many country can survive that in the world?

“How will they be allowed to own account and they are owing AMCON N5trillion. This bank account should have been the first line of attack if the government is serious in the first place.

“If the government is serious, the N5 trillion can be recouped in a short period of time. These individuals are still parading themselves as billionaires. What we need is sincerity  and use of common law.

“We need a political will. The NFIU are looking at bank accounts of those debtors. All we need is for AMCON to attack those accounts and the money recouped.”

AMCON’s chairman, Dr. MuizBanire had said 20 individuals and companies owe 67 per cent of the N5 trillion debt.

The Aide of the president on national assembly matters, ItaEnang, said the signed law – AMCON (amendment) Act, 2019, empowers the corporation to access the financial details of any of its debtors.

On his own perspective, the head of research, PanAfrican Capital Plc, Mr. Moses Ojo, said, “the new amendment of 2019 has empowered AMCON to confiscate amount of debtors.

“AMCON now has power to take over assets of debtors unlike before. The government is also working with other agencies in recovering these debts as duration of AMCON expires soon.

Peradventure, debtors decided to transact off banking sector, he said, “ these debtors are billionaires and you do not expect them to transact business without the banks. They can decide to invest in another assets like real estate.

“However, you will realize that these debts are in form of collateral which AMCON is going after. Since they have been going to court, AMCON has not have sufficient power to take over the collateral. With this amendment, AMCON now has the power to take over the collateral without going to court.

In addition, the former second Vice President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. AdekunleOjo, said, the amendment Act of AMCON 2019 has to do with financial technology to drive debt recovery.

“We like it or not, it will save an unnecessary litigation. Even there will be litigation, it will reduce it to the minimum. If peradventure the debtors have money in account, it will make easier to frozen.

“The amendment is a good process and I wish it will be replicated in other sectors. There are a lot of things to track down using financial technology. The amendment is a welcome development for the nation’s economy.”

He noted that debtors debited to AMCON would drive financial tactics and halt savings into their accounts.

According to him, “BVN will expose a lot of them but that does not stop them from using an associate in transacting business with banks. Some debtors will capitalize on the amendment and device another means to shun banks transactions.

“There will be difficulties and as time goes on, the government agencies will be get it right. One thing I know about laws in Nigeria is that, whenever it comes into existence for the first few months it appears to be prudent. Nigerians are always looking for means to beat about the laws to their own interest. It is good government has taken a step that conforms with global best practice.”

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.’’

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