The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday stepped down the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Amendment (AMCON) Bill, which was transmitted to it by the Senate for concurrence.
The Senate had on April 28 passed the bill after considering the report of its Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions.
The amendment bill would empower the AMCON to take possession, manage or sell all assets traced to debtors, whether or not such assets or property were used as security/collateral for obtaining the loan.
The House Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa, who presented the bill on behalf of the Senate for concurrence, said the legislation has been discussed and have undergone public hearing at the Senate, hence as a bicameral legislature, the House members should reason and concur with the Senate and allow the bill to pass for second reading.
Contributing in support of the bill, the Chairman House Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon. Victor Nwokolo, said the legislation was not asking AMCON to just acquire people's assets, rather it sought to get people to be honest with their business by liquidating the loans they have taken.
Nwokolo said: "What this amendment seeks to achieve is very important. Basically, we are looking to extend the consolidation fund which has expired. As of today the liabilities unpaid is overwhelming. Without the extension the banks are no longer contributing because there's no legal backing for the contribution. I appeal that we concur the bill. The other aspect of it is talking about where a debtor deliberately refuses to pay his debts. We want to give them backing that when an investor takes money and kills the business, please get the man to pay, we are not talking on just possession of somebody's assets."
However, some lawmakers kicked against the clause empowering the AMCON to take possession of assets traced to debtors.
In his contribution, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, sought to know if the powers can be abused.
He also queried why so many bills that were sent from the House to the Senate for concurrence had remained outstanding.
The Speaker said: "The same way we've given them noble privilege of concurrence to their bills, leader I think, you should talk to the Senate on why many bills from the House in the Senate that require their mutual concurrence are yet to be concurred to. You have to follow up on our bills in the Senate."
While corroborating with the speaker's statement, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, also urged the House leader to find out from the Senate if the issues raised by the House members when they debated the bill and eventually passed it for second reading has been addressed.
Okechukwu said: "I remember very vividly that the deputy speaker while chairing a committee of the whole passed a bill on federal roads authority, for the past two years it has not been concurred by the Senate. The reason as adduced by the leader is in the spirit of having a national assembly but that spirit also requires that there should be a concurrence. So I expect the leader to give us the reasons by debating the principles of this bill because I remember that the chairman of Banking and Currency brought this bill, we debated it and there were some issues that were raised. So, if they had been cured let us know. We will not be passing the bill just based on the fact that we are a bicameral legislature."