House to investigate N5tn AMCON debt

*Nigeria's House of Representatives.

*Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

*Shortfall in non-oil revenue
*Probes FCT land swap deals

08 October 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to investigate what it said is the undue accumulation of debts by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, amounting to N5 trillion, in excess of its N800 billion debt ceiling.

It also alleged that over N2 trillion was lost due to the non-transparent process adopted by AMCON in the sale of Oceanic Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank.

The resolution of the House followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Gabriel Onyenweife (Anambra APGA) who expressed worry that the continued abuse of due process in the management of AMCON portends danger for the financial health of the Nigerian banking industry.

He alleged that the accumulated debts of AMCON in the last five years is already more than the debts owed by the federal government to the Paris Club of creditors in 50 years.

“Disposal of assets such as shares, landed properties, plants and equipment acquired by AMCON was shrouded in secrecy…most of the assets disposed of were alleged to have been sold to cronies and close associates of the officials of the corporation without recourse to due process and extant laws,” the lawmaker noted.

Contributing to the motion, Hon. Oghene Emma Egoh (Lagos PDP) noted that the House needs to intervene to ensure that AMCON upholds the objectives for which it was established in 2010.

He also called for the appointment of a competent audit firm to examine the financial books of the corporation.

The House also resolved to set up an ad hoc team to probe alleged under-remittance/non-remittances and other fraudulent practices in the collection and expenditure of internally generated revenues by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

It expressed concern that over N2trillion may have been lost by the federal government as a result of fraudulent activities of the officials of such defaulting agencies.

A motion sponsored by Hon. Namdas Abdulrazak (Adamawa APC) noted that the non-oil sector can provide sufficiently for the budgetary needs of the country, if transparently handled.

Revenues from the non-oil sector have been subjected to reckless expenditure through high operational costs, diversion, lack of transparency and accountability, and inflation of contracts by the MDAs who spent without recourse to the enabling Acts that established them, Abdulrazak noted.

The House also mandated its Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), when constituted, to thoroughly investigate allegations of large scale infractions in the land swap policy of the last administration.

It noted that in the bid for additional revenue, the FCT administration allocated lands, including green areas, to estate developers in exchange for them building roads, electricity facilities, drainages and other infrastructure. The policy was however allegedly tainted with fraudulent practices aand favoritism.

The motion sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Yunusa Ahmed (Gombe APC) alleged that the beneficiaries of the land swap deals have resorted to selling the lands to the public at exorbitant prices in complete disregard for the agreement.
The House also called on the FCT to make efforts to stop the incessant gridlocks on the Nyanya-Mararaba road.
*Damilola Oyedele – Thisday

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