ICPC Chair Heads Committee to Recover AMCON’s N5tn Debt

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Buhari dissolves Obono-Obla’s panel, asks Malami to take charge

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The federal government yesterday constituted a fresh inter-agency committee to speedily resolve the challenges militating against the recovery of over N5 trillion outstanding debts owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, chairs the committee, which Vice President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated in Abuja.

Osinbajo tasked the panel to prepare a report and give the federal government advice on timelines of the recovery.

The inauguration coincided with the dissolution of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), chaired by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, until his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari.

A statement by the vice-president’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said only 20 individuals and entities owed about 67 per cent of the outstanding N5 trillion debt.

It said the committee also has the mandate to review the status of debts owed AMCON, deliberate on practical, legal and other strategies for recovery of the outstanding debts and as well prepare a report that will include a debt recovery work plan with specific timelines for completion.

“Following the challenges encountered from the debt-recovery processes and the very limited results so far, the committee is expected to consider other options, including taking enforcement measures in actually recovering the debts,” it added.

The statement said members of the committee were heads and representatives of agencies such as AMCON, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), ICPC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Buhari recently assented to the new AMCON Act, which amended the 2010 Act by increasing the powers of the commission to enforce the recovery of debt from persons owing legacy banks or seize property used as collateral.

The new Act also empowers AMCON to: “Place any bank account or any other account comparable to a bank account of a debtor of an eligible financial institution under surveillance; 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 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.’’

Buhari Dissolves Obono-Obla’s Panel, Asks Malami to take Charge

Meanwhile, Buhari yesterday dissolved the SPIP and directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to oversee its operations.

Obono-Obla was recently suspended over allegations of abuse of office and gross misconduct.

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president remarked that he was awaiting the outcome of the investigation into Obono-Obla’s alleged misdemeanors.

Adesina also said the president thanked all members of the panel for their services.

The statement added: “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been directed to immediately take over all outstanding investigations and other activities of the SPIP.

“The panel was established in August 2017 by the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN to investigate specifically mandated cases of corruption, abuse of office and similar offences by public officers.

“President Buhari thanks all members of the dissolved panel for their services.

“The President looks forward to receiving the final Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) report on the ongoing investigations of the dissolved panel’s chairman.”