James Emejo in Abuja
The acting Managing Director of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND), Mr. Ezekiel Oseni, yesterday prevailed on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help recover an outstanding N17.5 billion bad debts owed the fund by various individuals, some of whom have refused to pay back.
He said eight per cent of the total customers who borrowed money accounted for over 81 per cent of total non-performing loans.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to EFCC officials in Abuja, Oseni said since he assumed office in August last year, he had however, engaged with 135 customer who borrowed between N1 million to N5 million and had been making efforts to repay.
But the challenge according to him, lied with the big debtors who owed between N50 million and above- and have sworn not to pay back simple because it was public funds.
Others said it was only their own share of the national cake, he told the anti-graft officials.
Majority of the loans lacked requisite collaterals and were merely backed by guarantees from past political office holders.
Some of the big debtors were said to have resorted to endless litigation to frustrate recovery efforts.
He said the situation has rendered the fund broke and unable to pay staff salaries while may had recently been sacked- and more to follow if nothing was done to arrest the situation.
Oseni, therefore, asked the EFCC to set up a special task force in NERFUND to help in the investigation and recovery of N14.2 billion owed by the so-called big debtors.
Responding, Chief of Staff to the acting EFCC chairman, Mr. Ola Olukoye on behalf of Ibrahim Magu, assured the NERFUND acting boss of maximum cooperation, adding that the request was within its area of jurisdiction.
He further assured that the commission would be ready to assist in the recovery after a memorandum of understanding is signed to that effect.