Reps summon Emefiele, others over N17 billion NERFUND loans

Reps summon Emefiele, others over N17 billion NERFUND loans

- The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has been summoned by an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives

- Emefiele was summoned alongside the MD of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Umaru Ibrahim, and the MD of the Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan

- They were summoned over the N17 billion non-performing loans recorded by the National Economic Reconstruction

An ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 13 summoned the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over the N17 billion non-performing loans recorded by the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND).

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Others that were summoned by the committee were the managing director of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Umaru Ibrahim and the managing director of the Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, Punch reports.

NAIJ.com gathered that the committee, which is chaired by a member from Ekiti state, Ayodele Oladimeji, is investigating reports that NERFUND went under as a result of the loans, following which the federal government hurriedly merged it with the BoI.

It was learnt that the lawmakers would like to know why the loans were not recovered. They are also investigating who the beneficiaries of the loans were.

It was alleged that "acolytes of the management" and some members of staff were among the beneficiaries.

Information at the committee's disposal had it that some members took a N500 million facility with a repayment period of up to 20 years at only one per cent interest rate.

According to Oladimeji, NERFUND was shut in disregard to a standing resolution of the House, which directed that further actions on the agency should be put on hold pending the outcome of the probe.

He also stated that the committee would like to know the legal basis for the merger with the BoI.

The committee observed that the members had not been convinced on how NERFUND, which had an initial capital of N300m, could go under, while some commercial banks were posting profits in billions of naira, citing the case of Zenith Bank Plc and several others that started business around 1989 just as NERFUND did.

Oladimeji added: “With all the precautions taken by the NERFUND Act, NERFUND was not supposed to be distressed. What has the CBN done to recover the loans as prescribed by the Act?

“If NERFUND can go under, should Nigerians be looking forward to the collapse of similar agencies like the DBN, BoI and the others? Merging NERFUND with BoI is illegal, but we will not allow the DBN, BoI and the others to collapse like NERFUND."

The Ministry of Finance, however, claimed that NERFUND was not merged with the BoI.

Olubunmi Siyanbola, a representative of the ministry, told the committee that a process to wound down the agency began in 2013 and was followed through, adding that the BoI’s role was merely to recover the non-performing loans after all the members of staff of NERFUND resigned.

She said: “NERFUND had 82 workers, but the entire 33 senior management staff resigned in August 2016 on the verge of the presentation of the report of the presidential committee that investigated the fund.

“Because the agency has no board, the federal government constituted an interim management committee to oversee its affairs and by October 2017, the entire 49 junior workers also resigned after which they pleaded that we assist in their absorption into other federal government agencies.”

Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Dr Ezekiel Oseni as the acting managing director of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND).

The appointment has been approved and this was contained in a letter signed by Mahmoud Isa-Dutse who is the permanent secretary at the ministry of finance.

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Source: Naija.ng

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