The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye on Wednesday in Abuja revealed plans by the board to cooperate with the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) towards the restoration of the N5 trillion owed AMCON by obligors.
He made the declaration when he received the Board and Management of AMCON led by the Corporation’s Board Chairman, Dr Muiz Banire.
Owasanoye, who received the AMCON delegation at ICPC headquarters while describing the huge debt profile of AMCON as sobering situation especially as the figure represents about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s 2019 budget, further said the situation had become existential challenge for the country since the few people who are holding the country to ransom are still walking free and waxing strong in the society.
Considering the positive impact, the funds would have in the economy is recovered. Owasanoye was quoted in a statement to have declared that the time has come for the ICPC and other relevant sister agencies to partner AMCON and support the debt recovery drive.
He, however, pledged that the ICPC under his leadership was ready to work with Ahmed Lawan Kuru, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of AMCON and the board members to recover as much of these debts as possible before sunset.
Recalling that the Vice President, Prof. Yomi Osinbajo had also raised concerns over the huge debt in a similar forum, the ICPC Chairman said, the commission would be interested in tracing the transactional history of the different loans especially the high profile ones with a view to establishing any irregularity, which could have contributed to its hard-core nature, with obligors refusing to pay.
“We have to be practical in our approach. Something needs to be done and very fast too given the approaching AMCON sunset because this is public funds we are talking about here. We need AMCON and ICPC to work closely and develop a strategy that would work.
We need the public to know the opportunity cost of the huge debt to the Nigerian economy, we need to share information as sister agencies locally and internationally and treat this matter as a last lap race by setting up a joint task force to deal with this sobering issue,” he added.
The ICPC boss, who was of the opinion that obligors of AMCON were made to face the music, which he said would serve as deterrent to others, further added, “If these matters are not properly challenged and well treated, we can predict based on history that these set of people or their clones would repeat this circle of borrowing and would tell you that in the past, some people borrowed and defaulted and nothing happened. So something has to be done.”
Earlier in their submissions, both Banire who led the delegation and Kuru highlighted some of the high-profile obligors of the Corporation including some 350 individuals that account for 80 per cent of the entire debt obligation.
They also reiterated the fact AMCON would at this time in its lifespan need a collaboration of the ICPC to go after these obligors especially since AMCON on its own does not have the powers to invite, arrest or prosecute obligors as the only option open to AMCON remains the court.