By Dayo Johnson
THE debt recovery team put in place by the Wema Bank Plc to recover outstanding loans following the storm in the banking industry learnt Thursday in Akure that one of its debtors used non-existing shares as collateral to obtain a N600 million loan from the bank nine years ago.
The revelation is coming as the team which embarked on a house-to-house visit told newsmen in Akure that it has recovered over N203 million within one week of the exercise in the Akure region of the bank and had achieved 70 per cent success in the exercise.
Meanwhile, the bank has recovered N190m from a customer in Ondo town after he threatened to commit suicide if the recovery team failed to give him some time to pay back.
Addressing newsmen after combing the bank customers in the region, its Regional Manager in Ondo/Ekiti states, Mr. Greg Adeoye and the Head of the recovery team, said the customer is the owner of Dekit Construction Company, Mr. Dele Olagunju, who was alleged to have and used fake ordinary share of 479,889,022 units of Pacific Bank share.
According to them, the loan was obtained from the defunct National Bank Limited, Victoria Island branch in March 2003 and had â€œaccumulated and become a non-performance loan of N1.096 billion.”
When officials of the bank visited the firm which obtained the loan facility with the Pacific Bank shares they discovered that the shares were fake.
While raising the alarm over the whereabout of Olagunju, the bank officials said when it was discovered in 2005 that the collateral was fake the matter was reported to EFCC for necessary action to be taken against him.
They said that he was arrested and later released, promising to pay the loan after the bank reported the matter to the agency only to disappear thereafter.
According to them, Olagunju was expected to pay back the facility on November 30, 2004, adding that he â€œhad been elusive since then as we only hear from his Financial Director after searching for him in his homes in Osogbo and Abuja since 2004 all to no avail.â€
He explained that the bank had earlier petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which eventually arrested Olagunju over the refusal to pay the debt.
Olusanya the Head of the recovery team said that â€œWe have gone to everywhere that we think we could find him, we were at his house in Lagos , we went to his hometown in Osogbo and we are now in his office in Akure but he is nowhere to be foundâ€.
It would be recalled that theteam were accompanied to the homes and offices of their debtors by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and that of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation NDIC) and men of the Nigeria Police.
Fatoyinbo said that the bank â€œhad identified some debtors that were recalcitrant and had moved for them in order to recover the money they owed.
â€œWhat we are doing is that we have identified core debtors that are not forthcoming and those are the ones we have targeted in the recovery drive and it has really paid off.
We have covered a lot of ground, we have touched the untouchables, we have touched former commissioners, we have touched serving commissioners and out of the N250 million in this category of debt we have recovered a lot.
â€œIt is a CBN initiative, that is why they attached men of the EFCC, ICPC, NDIC and the police to enable us retrieve our loans, it is for the health of our bankâ€.
Meanwhile, other banks in the state have embarked on the same house to house debt recovery drive following the success recorded by Wema bank.