The Senate has empowered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to seize customers’ assets not captured in a collateral.
The Bill to this effect, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act, No. 2 2019 (Amendment Bill, 2021), was, however, passed amid protest by some lawmakers, who observed some discrepancies in the Bill.
Considering the report on the Bill by the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, presented by its Chairman, Sen. Uba Sani (Kaduna Central), some lawmakers noted that some of the clauses will empower AMCON to go beyond its mandate.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, who made this observation, drew the attention of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to the clauses, noting that if passed, would empower the corporation to go beyond its mandate.
Other lawmakers noted that if AMCON goes beyond its mandate, it would degenerate into legal issues, as the corporation would go beyond what the customer tendered as at the time of taking the loan.
Lawan said that this is not the time to make correction as the Bill has already passed second reading, where the lawmakers would have made their observation and correction.
The observation by the lawmakers did not deter the President of the Senate from ruling in favour of the clause, even when the voices against the clause overwhelmed those supporting it.
After ruling in favour of the clauses, Senator Akpan Bassey, who noted that AMCON is not the primary lender, raised a point of order 73 to challenge the decision of Lawan.
Bassey said, “This is subject to a challenge in a court of law because if I’m a debtor, and tendered a commercial…… I have signed everything, you cannot go beyond the context of that clause, you can’t, it will be challenged.”
Responding, Lawan said: “Are you challenging the ruling that the ‘yes’ had it? If that was your opinion, but in my judgment and understanding and the only one that has the gavel, I will view that….we should be very magnanimous when we do the exercise.
“This is something majority of our colleagues have voted for, let’s allow this thing to be implemented, if there’s any difficulty then come back, it can be challenged.”
“Let me say that even if it’s the wrong view, it’s still the majority. Unless we have any cause to reverse ourselves. But if majority of the senators thinks this is what should be done to remedy a situation that requires our attention, I think we should allow it.
“It’s our hope and desire that AMCON is able to recover huge sums of money that people have taken that is now on the shoulders of Nigerians. What’s happening is criminal, people consciously take money. I will advise we stick with our decision, let the court make their judgment if someone goes to court.”
Addressing journalists shortly after the plenary, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, said that the collateral presented during the loan contract should not be the only source of payment available from the borrower.
He said, “Tax payer money was used in 2009 to clear some of the debts by the Federal Government, which was not suppose to be.”
He, however, noted that some borrowers, who have defaulted still move freely without been prosecuted.
According to him, “AMCON will go the extra mile to recover loans. They will trace you and your other monies hidden elsewhere till you pay your debts.”