by Stanley Azuakola
Admittedly, the House of Representatives does not like Femi Otedola, the businessman who was the driving force behind the exposure and subsequent disgrace of one of its old shining stars, Hon. Farouk Lawan. But whether it is a case of sentimental grudge or not, yesterday’s announcement by the CEO of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mustafa Chike-Obi, that AMCON had approved the payment of N141 billion debt by Otedola, is worthy of a probe. And that is what the House intends to do.
In a swift reaction to AMCON’s announcement, the House released a statement through the chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakary Mohammed. Mohammed said that the House will demand full details of the transaction between AMCON and Otedola.
The statement said: “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.
“The 7th House of Representatives will, on return from its one week oversight tour, constitute a committee to investigate the amount and the assets so transferred to AMCOM.
“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.
“To say the least, the procedure is not acceptable. The National Assembly would be interested in getting full details of the transaction.”
The House of Representatives might also extend the probe to include other AMCON debtors.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), worried by the reluctance of debtors to pay back their loans, had stopped banks from granting credit to 113 companies and 419 directors/shareholders, including those belonging to Otedola, Alhaji Sayyu Dantata, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, former power minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi, and Dr. Wale Babalakin.