Reps recover N1b from six banks


By July 14, 2010 01:57AM


A total of N1.08 billion, amounting to interests from about N100 billion realized from the sale of the Federal Government properties, has been recovered from six banks, according to the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Housing and Habitat, Garba Shehu Matazu.


The banks and the amounts recovered from them are Skye Bank N226,209,506.18; Equatorial Trust Bank N115, 295,175.84; Oceanic Bank N404,173,076.08; and Intercontinental Bank N59,806,556.55.Others are Wema Bank N241,426,097.38 and United Bank for Africa N39,754,814.12. Of the lot, only Oceanic Bank, which paid in two instalments of N163,191,144.88 and N240,981,931.20 concluded its payment last Monday. Mr. Matazu, said at a public hearing on the matter, that the committee decided to recover the money itself when the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Lease of the Federal Government Property (PIC), and its consultant resorted to it for assistance due to the refusal of the banks to respond to their various efforts in recovering the interests.


Carrot and stick method

He added that the committee intervened vigorously through solicitations and letter, even threat of invocation of its constitutional powers for compulsion to obtain surrender and cooperation. Mr. Matazu said the committee frowned at the affront by the banks, which it adjudged deliberate and aimed at defrauding the government and people of Nigeria, adding that it went further to threaten the concerned banks with the invitation of the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if they failed to remit the withheld funds into the coffers of the PIC.


“The above became expedient when the committee realised that the non-payment bothered on sheer deceit, unwillingness to remit, and the belief that if the said funds are not recovered after a time, it may be forgotten,” he said. “The committee has vowed to unearth and to make sure that all agencies and banks involved are made to pay up as the present House is determined to unplug all noticeable avenues of sleaze in the system, and make sure more money available to government to accomplish developmental programmes.” Mr Matazu also said having recovered the interests, the committee will now embark on the second phase of its job in “fulfilling the resolution of the House to recover those federal government properties that were carved out illegally and some sold out without the money being paid into the government treasury.”


Kudos to the House

Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Nduesse Essien, confirmed that the banks have paid up the interest as at July 9, and expressed happiness that the committee did a marvellous job.“That is the essence of parliament,” he said. “It acts as a watchdog because without doing so, a lot of things would have gone awry.” Mr. Essien said he has invited the 14 banks involved in the implementation programme to a meeting during which he told them the ministry’s plan to streamline the number of banks to six to ease reconciliation in future. In choosing the six banks, the minister added, “we are going to look at what they will give us, how much interest they are giving us. So, from next month we are going to appoint six banks who will be holding the accounts of the PIC.” He also said that the ministry has given those who bided for government houses, but are yet to pay or take possession of the properties, 21 days within which to do so or have them revoked. He added that he has signed about 30 Certificates of Occupancy in the last two weeks.


Also speaking at the hearing, the PIC Secretary, Mohammed Yahuza said the committee has 69 litigations in court and that they are being handled by the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Consultant to PIC, Enyiuwa Okpara commended the House committee for recovering the money. In his remarks, the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, represented by the Minority Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, expressed happiness at the achievement of the committee, adding “You may recall that the recovery of over N4 billion made during the 2008 Financial Year has ushered in new culture of returning funds into the public coffers at the end of the year.”






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