The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has been urged to leverage the 2019 Amended AMCON Act to declare obligors who are holding public office bankrupt.
This was stated by legal consultant and Senior Partner of Olaniwun Ajayi firm, Muyiwa Balogun while reviewing the new AMCON Act 2019 at a one-day Seminar for Honourable Judges of the FHC in Abuja.
According to Balogun, the new 2019 Amended AMCON Act, which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in the year provides AMCON with the power to recover the huge debt of over N5.4 trillion owed by obligors as a result of AMCON intervention in the banking sector.
How the funds should be recovered: In Balogun’s opinion, the only alternative to the recovery challenge was for the judges of the Federal High Court of Nigeria (FHC) to take the matter as a national assignment and explore all the powers of the new amendment.
Balogun also said the Federal High Court, which incidentally is AMCON’s court of first instance, should, as a matter of fact, support the corporation to explore the bankruptcy proceedings as provided by the amendment. This, he said would at least make it possible for the corporation to rubbish its debtors that are holding public office as persons of no integrity and so cannot hold such office.
Balogun’s words; “Once you are declared bankrupt, you cannot hold public office. Today, we have AMCON debtors making laws for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. AMCON with your support, needs to go to court and declare such individuals bankrupt. Given the sunset period of AMCON and the fact that the debt we are talking about is the commonwealth of Nigeria, it would not be out of place to take the full advantage of the bankruptcy power among other special powers in the new amendment.”
The concerned lawyer, who stated that the bankruptcy proceedings had been explored in other climes to address similar matters, argued that there was no reason why it should not work in Nigeria. Again, he said, “As a way of being proactive with the new amendment of the AMCON Act, let us test the bankruptcy proceedings because it will be effective. In other jurisdictions, this has proved to be a very potent tool and why not in Nigeria.”
Balogun further painted a gloomy picture of what could further befall the already challenged Nigerian economy, if the debts were not recovered in good time before the sunset period. He said if the Federal High Court Judges and indeed the judiciary do not support AMCON, the debt profile of the corporation can easily rise to a whopping N6.6 trillion by 2024 since AMCON still owes the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N4.5 trillion just as it is still battling with N1.7 trillion of Assets Under Litigation (AUL).
The debt burden, he explained, would eventually become the burden of the Federal Government and by extension taxpayers, which is why he said there was a need for speed from the angle of the courts. He said it was immoral to allow the obligors go away without punishment, especially since both the Holy Bible and the Quran, which incidentally are the dominant religions in the country abhor people who borrow without the intention to pay back.