The House of Representatives is set to launch a probe into the payment of N140.9billion in debts by oil mogul, Femi Otedola to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The Lower House yesterday insisted that the transaction was done in “confidentiality and secrecy.”
A terse statement issued yesterday evening by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, and made available to LEADERSHIP, disclosed that the Lower House would, on return from its one-week oversight tour, constitute a committee to investigate the amount and the assets so transferred to AMCOM.
The statement read in part: “We have observed with interest the payment of N140.9billion, being outstanding debts of a businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, to AMCON. This payment was credited to AMCON’s Managing Director, Mustafa Chike-Obi.
“Obi confirmed that AMCON Board met last Thursday and approved the transfer of the businessman’s assets as well as undisclosed cash to AMCON as full payment and final settlement of Otedola’s liabilities.
“It is imperative to state that, with the state of our economy, this transaction was done with “confidentiality and secrecy. It is curious that AMCON, being a government establishment which is under the purview of the National Assembly, could do that without the knowledge of the House.”
The Lower House spokesman said the payment procedure was not acceptable and that the National Assembly would probe the deal.
In September, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a circular dated September 17, barred Nigerian banks from extending further credit to companies belonging to Mr. Femi Otedola. CBN’s decision was hinged on reluctance by some debtors to pay back their loans despite the purchase of the debts at an agreed price by AMCON.
The circular signed by CBN’s Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs. A. O. Martins, which was accompanied by a detailed list of the blacklisted debtors, showed that Zenon Petroleum, owned by Otedola, was indebted to banks to the tune of N192.4 billion.
Otedola, in a purported ‘sting’ operation sanctioned by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS), video-taped a $620,000 bribe offered the suspended Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc committee that investigated the federal government’s fuel subsidy regime, Farouk Lawan.
Lawan allegedly received the payment from Otedola to clear the latter’s oil firm, Zenon, earlier indicted for fuel fraud investigated by the Lower House. Lawan insisted that he took the money as evidence.