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CBN: Utuama cautions anti-graft agencies on debt recovery

Asaba—DELTA State Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN), has lamented ongoing crack down on bank debtors, noting that the affected transactions were not  criminal but purely civil that should not warrant the anti-graft agencies to be drafted in.

This comes as Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), retired Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, called for restraint in condemning the recent comments of the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, over Nigeria’s efforts in its anti-corruption crusade.

Receiving the ICPC boss on a courtesy visit at Government House, Asaba, yesterday, Utuama said: “I don’t know when bank loans have become criminal matters. They are purely civil matters.

If debtors are not paying their debts, there are securities, we have the courts to look at those issues. Any other way will plunge this country, will plunge our economy into greater crisis”.

The ICPC boss was in Asaba to attend the South-South zonal conference of the 2009 edition of the national conference of Anti-Corruption Committees in Nigerian Legislatures and Heads of Anti-Corruption units in Government Establishments.

Justice Ayoola said “some have asked our (ICPC) response to the United States (US) comment of the Secretary of State of the United State. On the observation of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on our anti- corruption institution.
“We believe that United States is one of the best friends of this country.  We have travelled the length and breath of this country, governance has improved considerably, every arm of government in Nigeria is performing its responsibility.
“If your friends do not share their perception about you, then you can not know  what they feel about you. But if your friends share their perception of you with you, your response is to correct that perception, the response is also to take note of the perception and ensure that you correct it. We believe that US is one of our best friends.”

Welcoming participants at the conference later, the ICPC Chairman, Justice Ayoola said “as the fight against corruption is not selective, the ICPC does not measure its success in the fight against corruption by the number of governors that have been investigated or prosecuted, but by the widespread attitudinal change characterized by zero tolerance for corruption that would result in people trusted with power, among whom are governors remaining faithful to their trust”.

On the overall success recorded so far, he said “we have no doubt achieved success in arousing public awareness by education and public enlightenment, while we remain unrelenting in pursuing and bringing to book those who indulge in corrupt practices.

“Some are impatient with our culture of shunning publicity of our investigation activities unless we are sure that theM time is ripe and right for such publicity.

“That the ICPC does not investigate on the pages of newspapers should not be misconceived as inactivity, but is to be seen and accepted as a reflection of our remaining faithful to one of the fundamental values of our nation – respect for the human rights of every human being.”


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