Mr. Femi Otedola
The House of Representatives Thursday set up an eight-man ad hoc committee to investigate the N141 billion debt deal struck between oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The committee, which is headed by House Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, is expected to unravel the circumstances surrounding the final settlement of debts totalling N140,999,620,395.80 owed AMCON by Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Forte Oil Plc, owned by Otedola.
Other members of the committee are Hon. Sani Kalgo, Hon. Uzo Azubuike, Hon. Ajibola Muraina, Hon. Pally Iriase, Hon. Evelyn Ojakovo, Hon. Jerry Manwe and Hon. Idris Wase.
In the deal ratified by the AMCON board, Otedola had transferred his assets as well as an undisclosed sum of cash to AMCON as full and final settlement for his liabilities.
The deal came on the heels of the release of a debtors' list by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in which it blacklisted Otedola, Zenon and 112 other companies as well as their principal shareholders and directors where the outstanding value of the loans purchased by AMCON amounted to N5 billion or more from taking further credit from banks, until full liquidation of the said indebtedness.
The list had revealed Otedola as the biggest debtor to the corporation from bank loans of N192,422,889,943.56, which was acquired by AMCON at an agreed price of N140,999,620,395.80.
AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, had said reaching this stage with Otedola involved over six months of long drawn-out meetings and negotiations during which his assets had to be valued by an independent valuer to ensure that they matched his debts.
The House, however, set up the ad hoc committee to probe the transaction following a motion sponsored by Hon. Abimbola Daramola (PDP/Ekiti) on the debt recovery transaction.
In the lead debate, Daramola argued that one of the objectives for establishing AMCON was to efficiently manage and dispose of eligible bank assets acquired by the corporation in accordance with the provisions of the law.
According to Daramola, whereas the AMCON Act provides that the operations of AMCON be published in the media while it should also present copies to the National Assembly, Ministry of Finance and CBN, the Otedola-AMCON deal did not follow this laid down procedure.
“The House is aware that it was publicly reported that Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Forte Oil Plc have paid up an outstanding debt of N140,999,620,395.80 owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.
“We are, however, disturbed that the sudden final settlement of this exposure by these organisations was shrouded in secrecy and established under a binding confidentiality agreement.
“We are convinced that the exposure of these organisations whose debts are said to have been finally settled now is the highest with the consequences of causing a systemic rift to the economy,” he stated.
The lawmaker argued that if the full extent and spectrum of transaction was not scrutinised, it might be a prelude to disaster worse than the near collapse witnessed in the stock market in which many Nigerians not only lost their investments but also died because of the emotional trauma occasioned by their losses.
There were no further debates before House Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, put the motion to vote and the support was unanimous. The ad hoc committee has been mandated to conduct a full-scale investigation into the transaction and report back to the House within one month.
Also yesterday, the House mandated a six-man delegation to visit the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State and the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where some students were killed.
The delegation is headed by the Deputy Minority Whip, Hon. Datti Garba Mohammed, and has Hon. Femi Odeneye, Hon. Aisha Modibo, Hon. Bitrus Kaze, Hon. Victor Nwokolo and Hon. Ali Madaki as members.