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N49bn debts: Senate urges EFCC to prosecute bank directors

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…invites Sanusi, Ogunleye

….As NUJ calls for trial of suspects

By Emmanuel Aziken &  Henry Umoru

ABUJA—The Senate is pressing on all fronts to bring directors of failed banks indicted in the accumulation of N49 billion bad debts to book with a directive to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to recover and prosecute the indicted bank directors. The Senate directive channeled through its Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Anti-Corruption has given the EFCC an ultimatum of tomorrow to acquaint the Senate Committee on its report on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Senator Nkechi Nwaogu led committee on Banking is today meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Managing Director of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaji Ganiyu Ogunleye to reconcile their efforts in the recovery of the debts arising from insider dealings by the failed banks’ directors.

The Senate had last Tuesday upon the report of the investigations into the agonies of depositors of failed banks named some prominent Nigerians alleged to be bank directors who among themselves accumulated as much as N53 billion debts before the collapse of the banks. Out of that sum, N4 billion was recovered.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Anti-Corruption, Senator Sola Akinyede in a letter to the EFCC demanding the recovery and prosecution of the bank directors, affirmed that it was within the agency’s statutory responsibilities to handle such cases bothering on economic crimes.

According to the statement obtained by Vanguard, Senator Akinyede directed the commission to furnish the Senate Committee with a report on the issue within seven days expiring tomorrow.

At the sitting of the Senate on Tuesday 7th July, 2009, the issue of insider credit abuses by directors of failed banks was discussed and the names of erring directors were disclosed. The Senate was shocked by the degree of the abuses and the staggering amounts involved.

Also, the National Leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged the Senate to establish Special Courts to try suspects of Economic and Financial Crimes, just as it called on the legislators to recommend the trial of those involved in the N49 billion bank scandal.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Friday, the National President of NUJ, Muhammad Garba who commended the Upper legislative chambers on efforts at declassifying the list of insider related credits on the floor of the Senate, also called on the legislators to recommend the trial of not only those involved in financial crimes, but also responsible for the murder of so called many innocent depositors who lost their lives following the sudden shock caused by such insider abuses.

According to him, “We equally commend the move being made by the Senators seeking the prosecution of all those involved in the insider credit abuse which led to the agonies of so many depositors, many of whom were unable to withstand the shock which ultimately claimed their lives.

“While the NUJ stands resolutely behind the Senate on this issue, we wish to also appeal to the Upper Chamber to facilitate the setting up of Special Courts to try suspects of Economic and Financial Crimes. This we suggest will ease up the pressure on normal courts and will reduce time wasted in prosecuting perpetrators of such crimes”.

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