By Omoh Gabriel & Emma Ovuakporie
ABUJA â€” THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has placed the three newly sacked Chief Executive Officers of Banks, Mr Francis Atuche of Bank PHB; Mr. Ike Oraekwuotu of Equitorial Trust Bank and Mr. Charles Ojo of Spring Bank Plc on 24-hour surveillance from yesterday to forestall them from jetting out of the country.
According to a source close to the EFCC headquarters, the 24-surveillance became necessary to forestall any plan by the bank CEOs to leave the country and frustrate investigations, the way the sacked Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Erastus Akingbola left the country in August.
The source added â€œthough we have declared him wanted, the man surrendered in London, we do not want such a thing to happen again as we have sent operatives to all airports and borders to monitor them.
â€œThe operatives are expected to file hourly reports to the headquarters on the movement of the sacked bank top officers, if they suspect any funny movement they are to send an alert immediately which may lead to the arrest of such a suspect.â€™â€™
The three bank CEOs were fired last Friday by the Central Bank. They joined the other five CEOs that were earlier sacked by the apex bank.
FG plans conversion of tier-two capital to equity
Meantime, the Federal Government may convert the tier two capital injected into the troubled banks in the country into temporary equity as an interim measure, if the various options being considered by the Central Bank to recapitalise the banks fail instead of allowing the affected banks to crash.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Mansur Mukhtar in Istanbul in answer to a question after the Africa Finance Minister briefing of which he was a participant to represent the African continent.
He also said that the measures being taken by the CBN was approved by the Council of Ministers and has the full support of the President.
He said that government is considering taking control of the banks on a temporary basis, if investors, local or foreign, do not come up within the time frame specified for their recapitalization. He said the government has no plan for long-term ownership of banks, and is encouraging mergers and acquisitions among the affected banks to help deal with illiquid assets.
According to him, the Federal Government expects that shareholders will be given time to recapitalise the banks and that local and foreign investors will be given the opportunity to invest in the banks when the time comes.
He disclosed that as part of the effort to boost liquidity in the banking system, the President has directed the Ministry of Finance and the CBN to work closely with the National Assembly to set up an Asset Management Company to buy off the toxic assets from the banks.
He said the government has said that it will not allow any bank to fail and the President is keeping to that promise. It is in the light of this that government is considering temporary ownership of the banks if expected recapitalisation does not materialise.
On giving Africa more voice in the operations of the IMF and the World Bank, Mukhtar said Africa was given an opportunity to make a presentation at the G-20 meeting that was held in Pittsburg, United States.
â€œThis year actually, we have been given an opportunity to make contributions as a group of African ministers and CBN Governors, which is what we call the C10,â€ he said.
According to him, the C10 is spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
He said the C10 was able to interact with key decision makers, such as the Prime Minister of Britain, Gordon Brown, who had an initiative to provide input into giving the African countries more leverage.
â€œAt the moment the key concern is to ensure that the principles are accepted. We are very delighted to see a softening of view in this regard and the second stage is to decide on representation.
â€œThe basic principle is that we want an effective representation and the capacity to make contributions,â€ he said.
Mukhtar told newsmen that Nigeria had to fall back on its excess crude account to augment dwindling revenue.
He said the government would still resort to the excess crude to tackle the credit crunch with additional stimulus spending.
â€œWe will be making additional withdrawals from the excess crude and we will take steps to fast-track budget implementationâ€.