The Senate has passed an amendment bill empowering the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to go after the assets of debtors to enable the corporation recover outstanding loans totaling N5.5 trillion from recalcitrant debtors.
The bad bank had bought over the non-performing loans of some banks in 2010 during a banking crisis, which almost sank the financial sector.
The AMCON amendment bill empowered the corporation to take possession, manage or sell all properties traced to debtors, whether or not such assets or property have been listed as collateral for obtaining the loan.
The amendment also makes provision for the establishment of a special tribunal where the corporation can take defaulters to as a step toward the recovery of outstanding debt.
Presenting the report, Uba Sani, Chairman of the Senate Committee, said the committee engaged stakeholders including AMCON, Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) before arriving at its conclusion.
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He said the stakeholders in their submissions suggested that AMCON be empowered to take possession, manage, sell, transfer, assign property used as security for eligible bank assets among others.
This, he said would provide for a quicker, easier and legitimate process of assets disposal.
Deputy President of Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege at the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill sought clarification on some provisions. “The essence of collateral is that in the event of default, you lose that asset.
“What I am reading here is that in addition to seizing that asset, AMCON want to go beyond that to every other asset or property that is traceable to the debtor, I think I need some clarifications to that,” he said.
President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, however, called for voting on the bill, which was adopted by majority of the lawmakers.
However, Sen. Bassey Akpan and Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, while relying on a Point of Order contested the ruling of the Senate President by requesting for a division. But the Senate President overruled them.
“When we come to legislate, we all come here with very clear mind, that we are doing this for our country, we don’t have any interest but the national interest.
“And when majority of our colleagues here in their judgement feel that this is the right thing to do, that’s the majority view, unless we have any cause to reverse ourselves.
“If the majority of Senators say that this is what they feel should be done to remedy a situation that requires our attention, I think we should allow that.
“Besides, I believe we had explanations from the Committee members who went through all the processes, so, I believe that we should let it go,” he said.
“Let the people go to court to test it, but our hope and desire is for AMCON to be able to recover huge sums of money, trillions that people have taken and now is on the head of Nigerians.
“And, it is criminal, really. People will consciously take money, I will advise that we stick to our decision,” Lawan said.
The bill will have to be passed by the House of Representatives and forwarded to the president before it can become law.