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EFCC summons Odili, Okereke-Onyiuke, 5 others

ABUJA—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  has summoned the former governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, Director general, Nigerian Stocks Exchange, NSE, Dr. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and five directors of TRANCORP over alleged debts owed the five banks whose Managing Directors and board were removed recently by the  Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

It was reliably gathered yesterday that the anti-graft agency had concluded plans to quiz Dr. Odili, Dr Okereke Onyiuke and five unnamed directors of  TRANSCORP.

Odili, according to the source, is  owing  N189million while TRANCORP is owing well over N30billion.

The source further explained that if by Wednesday, the debtors do not show up at the EFCC office, they will be declared wanted and placed on the watch list to forestall their travelling out of the country “though they have been placed under 24 hours surveillance nation- wide.

“One thing is certain, they cannot escape the EFCC dragnet as our operatives are stationed in all the airports and  borders  of the country and it will be fool-hardy for any of them to make such an attempt.”

When contacted, Head, Media and Publicity of the agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi confirmed that the agency is expecting the former governor and others by Wednesday.

It would be recalled that five banks namely: Oceanic Bank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc, FinBank Plc, AfriBank Plc and Union Bank Plc had their CEOs and boards fired for alleged fraud, insider trading and non-performing loans.

Meanwhile, the CBN weekend, said that it acted within the existing laws in injecting N420 billion into the five troubled banks, saying the facility is neither equity or bailout.

In a statement signed by the apex bank’s Corporate Affairs Manager, M. M.Abdullahi, the CBN said: “The Central Bank of Nigeria had noted with interest and concern comments on the legality or otherwise of the injection of N420 billion into the five banks whose Managing Directors were removed and the suggestion that the CBN Act be amended in view of an alleged conflict with the constitution and wishes to clarify as follows: The core mandate of the CBN among others, are monetary policy formulation and implementation and the promotion of a sound financial system.

It was in pursuance of these objectives that the CBN provided liquidity support to the five banks. The injection of N420 billion  into the five affected banks is neither equity nor a bailout by government but the normal and statutory central banking function of lender of last resort to deposit money banks facing acute liquidity problems.

“The loan is an accommodation facility intended to improve the liquidity position of the banks to enable them meet their obligations and will be repaid.

“The CBN Act empowers the CBN to manage money supply in the economy through different mechanisms.  The CBN, as banker to other banks, has been increasing money supply by lending money to the banks through the Expanded Discount Window (EDW) and the injection of the N420b into the five banks is similar to that function.

The money is not from the government treasury and the CBN does not require any appropriation by the National Assembly in order to perform this function which in any event, is not often foreseeable.

“It should further be noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 authorizes the expenditure of public fund outside the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and outside appropriation, provided such expenditure is authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.  In this regard, Section 42(2) of the CBN Act, which is an Act of the National Assembly provides as follows:

“Notwithstanding the provision of Section 29 (1)(c) and 34(d) of this Act, the Bank may grant loans and other accommodation facilities at such rate of interest and on such terms as the bank may determine, to any bank which may be having liquidity problems.

“Therefore, the call for the amendment of the CBN Act is rather unfortunate as there is no conflict whatsoever between the relevant sections of the CBN Act regarding liquidity management/liquidity support for distressed banks and the relevant sections of the constitution regarding appropriation by the National Assembly of all government expenditure.”

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