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Senate commences process to recover N16trn AMCON loans

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Senate commences process to recover N16trn AMCON loans  

The Senate, has kickstarted the process to recorver about N16 trillion naira owed by debtors of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) 
This was just as it considered a critical bill seeking to empower AMCON in the aspect of assets recovery, as well as strengthen it against economic sabotage by debtors.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Amendment Bill 2021, which scaled second reading on the floor was sponsored by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central).  

Leading debate on the bill, Bamidele said, “The main aim of this amendment is to update a few clauses in the Act that have been hampering the Operations of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.” According to the lawmaker, “under the current Act, the continued smooth operation of AMCON is threatened by the tenor put on a key funding provision for AMCON.” 

“Therefore, the proposed amendment is designed to allow for more flexibility in the tenor of this key funding provision,” he added. Bamidele emphasized further that the amendment would strengthen AMCON in stabilizing Nigeria’s banking sector and empower the agency in carrying out its functions of assets and debt recovery.”

He said, “Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, AMCON is a very important and strategic national institution that must be strengthened to effectively contribute to the stabilization of the banking sector in Nigeria. 

“It proved its mettle in the banking crises of 2009. Our economy still grapples with huge challenges. The banking sector is not immune from the difficulties we face. We must therefore review and amend the AMCON Act (2014) in order to reinvent and reposition AMCON to optimally perform its functions.  

“In particular, this amendment will strengthen the hands of AMCON in assets recovery. AMCON must be reenergized to tackle the problem of toxic loans.  “Highly placed debtors have been employing different strategies and tactics to stall the repayment of loans. Cases drag on in courts for many years. AMCON has remained at the receiving end of this well laid and orchestrated acts of economic sabotage.  

“As patriots we have an obligation to empower AMCON and make its assets recovery efforts less cumbersome. We must remove all obstacles to its smooth operations. We must safeguard our banking sector and the economy in these trying times.” 

Contributing, Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) emphasized that, “AMCON largely depend on the resources from the resolution fund, and failure to extend this amendment bill will certainly affect the operation of AMCON and it may force the government to bear the entire cost of debt management of AMCON.”  

On his part, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), said the amendment “will give teeth to AMCON to recover all debts that were given to private individuals and also companies.” 

“I  don’t know whether my colleagues are aware of the information circulating in social media and even in the conventional media, where only twenty individuals have taken about N7.5 trillion naira. “Mr. President, this is more than what we spend as capital budget of this country, and these individuals are well to do individuals and they are walking on our streets. 

“They have huge sums of money, some of them have even transferred these monies abroad. There’s nothing toxic about it, the money is with them, they have used it and they don’t want to pay. 

“They are using all tactics to ensure that they block the investigation agencies like EFCC from recovering the loan. They have even gone to court to get all kinds of injunctions stopping AMCON from recovering the loan. 

“Mr. President, we should all support this amendment, it will make Nigeria to be sanitized financially, and banks would even be in a better position to give loans to people bearing in mind that there must be collateral for giving such loans.  

“They were a little bit careless in the past, but with this, Mr. President, if this amendment passes through, it will be a wake-up call for all financial institutions in the country to do what is right and proper,” Aliero said. 

Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central) underscored the need for extending the tenor of AMCON, adding that doing so would rescue Nigeria’s financial and banking systems from the burden of loans obtained by individuals.  

The lawmaker also called on the Judiciary to work with the intendment of the amendment bill by ensuring that debtors face the weight of the law and are made to pay all loans.  

His words: “We have no option but to extend the tenure of AMCON because AMCON is carrying a contingent liability that which is sovereign to the tune of nearly N6 trillion naira. “Loans that were private in the past have now been made a sovereign loan, so we are all carrying this as a result of past errors of commission done by the banking system. “Mr. President, Sir, this bill to extend the tenor has come at the right place, otherwise, we may not be able to recover the same of nearly N6 trillion naira, and I don’t know what would have happened to this financial system or the banking system.  

“Finally, while we are extending this tenor, we hope and pray that the Judiciary will work in tandem with the aspiration of the bill to assist and make sure that individuals that are carrying these liabilities, certainly are called to book and are made to pay so that our sovereign will be relived off this burden.” 

Another lawmaker, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South) called for an insertion of a criminal clause in the amendment bill that makes it possible for debtors to be detained by the courts, and the payment of half the total amount owed made a mandatory condition for granting them bail.  

Na’Allah said: “It is not sufficient enough to extend the tenor of AMCON and give it the power to reinvent and reposition itself so that it can optimally perform.  “If the desire is to recover these loans, we may have to go back to introduce a criminal element into this recovery process. 

 “So, when we introduce the criminal element into this matter, what it means is that the 16 trillion that we are taking about, we will get more than N8 trillion immediately, because this money is with them.  “They are just using the Judicial process to frustrate the recovery these monies. When it comes to the committee level, one of the inventions that this Senate can do, is to insert a criminal element into it that gives court the power to detain and refuse bail until half of the amount owed is paid as a condition for granting bail. “Once we do this, it will be a radical departure from all these misuse of court process to hang on to what does not belong to you. And, I think that this one of the nest decisions this senate can take as far as this matter is concerned. “It is even more so, because the banking sector will continue to do this as long as a decisive action is not taken this misuse.” The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill after it scaled second reading to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for further legislative work. The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Uba Sani was given four weeks to turn in its report.  

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Legislature

Kogi Rainstorm: Senate wants NEMA to supply relief materials to affected areas

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Kogi Rainstorm: Senate wants NEMA to supply relief materials to affected areas

The Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committee on Special Duties to liaise with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently supply relief and rehabilitation materials to Olamaboro communities of Kogi affected by rainstorm.
This, the upper chamber said was with a view to mitigating the sufferings of the victims.
The resolution was sequel to a Point of Order raised by Sen. Isah Jibrin (APC-Kogi) during plenary
The motion was titled “Urgent need for rehabilitation of communities affected by rainstorm in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi”.
The upper chamber also mandated the Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Investment Programme (SIP), to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to provide minimal seed capitals for the victims in the affected communities.
This, the Senate said was to help in facilitating their various economic activities. 

Senator Jibrin while moving the motion expressed worry that with the commencement of the rains, over 200 residential buildings had been destroyed across many communities in the LGA in a rainstorm, following a heavy downpour on April 9.
“Apart from destruction of residential buildings, the devastating rainstorm also ravaged crops, farmlands, schools, worship houses, clinics and businesses in several communities in the LGA.He expressed the concern that many victims of the disaster sustained varying degrees of injury and are receiving medical attention at various health centres within the LGA and neighbouring LGAs.Hence he said, the disaster has created a serious humanitarian crisis as families are rendered homeless and their means of livelihood and properties woxth millions of naira destroyed by the rainstorm, thereby creating a situation of internal displacement.
He listed the major affected communities to inlude Ogugu Central, Ogane~0forachi, Emodida, Iyono, Emagaba No.1, Emenega, Emonoja-Aludu, Eegahimotu and Adupi Emoriko in Ogugu Dtstrict. In addition to many others within Okpo and Imane communities.

Contributing, Sen. Yakubu Oseni called on the Federal Government to provide succor to the  affected communities by coming to their aid

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Legislature

Nigeria can no longer Pretend, there are firearms in wrong Hands – Senator Bamidele

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Nigeria can no longer Pretend, there are firearms in wrong Hands – Senator Bamidele

By Joseph Sunday

The chairman Joint committee on Justice and Human Rights said the committee is trying to amend the act in a way that Nigeria can have a one stop shop in the maritime sector.

Senator Opeyemi stated this during the presentation of the Exclusive Economic zone Act amendment Bill and the Fire Arms amendment Bill by stakeholders.

The chairman told journalists that Nigeria cannot pretend, it has arms and ammunition in wrong hands.
“Stiffer punishment should be served as sanction to anyone in possession of fire arms without license.”

He said section 33(4) can take care of any lacuna in the act that has to do with management and ownership of our mineral resources. He posited that an amendment Bill can alter the constitution to provide for any additional property or minerals not covered by the constitution.

In another development, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele called on state Governors and other stakeholders to do the needful in the interest of the public by granting independence to the judiciary in their states. He said “no body stands to lose anything “
The national assembly has granted the judiciary independence at the Federal level through the passage of necessary laws.

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Legislature

Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

The Senate has raised the alarm that Nigeria is presently under siege from murderous non – state actors, whose activities are threatening the cooperate existence of the country.

To make the matter more scary records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), indicated that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70%, are domiciled in Nigeria for evil activities of criminally minded people .

Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Made the frightening submissions at the public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.

He said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.

Sani the sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.

He said, “We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival.

“We are under siege from murderous non – state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear Nation. 

“We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities, or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.”

The main aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.

He lamented that “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.

“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria.

“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st , 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country.

“More recently in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an Army Captain and 11 Soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by Gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on the Police headquarters and Correctional Centre .

“Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on  the existing Firearms Act”, he said .

He listed the five major objectives of the amendment bill to include imposition of stiffer penalties for offences under the Act .

One of such penalties is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c), which proposed increase of fine from N1,000 to N1million .

Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oladayo Amao, in his submission, objected to the N1million proposed fine on illegal possession of firearms arguing for its upward review to N2million.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the joint Commitee, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said the purpose of the two bills were to further strengthen the Nigerian extant laws against illegal firearms possession and proliferation as well as making provisions of the Act on Exclusive Economic Zone to be in line with global practices as far as protection of the Nation’s territorial sea or waters are concerned.

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