‘Zam­fara govt com­mit­ted to ser­vic­ing Ecobank loan’

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Temi­tayo Odun­lami and Shehu Umar, Gusau

The Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary of the All Pro­gres­sive Congress (APC) in Bauchi State, Al­haji Sani Gwamna Mayanchi, had ex­plained the state gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to ser­vic­ing its loan to Ecobank, but had been con­strained by the financial cri­sis that had hit all the states due to crash in crude price on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

Ecobank Nige­ria Plc had taken the Zam­fara state gov­ern­ment and six oth­ers to court over a N1.5 bil­lion loan the lat­ter al­legedly ob­tained in 2009 by the Al­haji Mah­mud Aliyu Shinkafi ad­min­is­tra­tion from Oceanic Bank Plc, which Ecobank later ac­quired.

On Septem­ber 30, 2015, Jus­tice Okon Abang of a Lagos Fed­eral High Court ruled that the Ac­coun­tant­Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion should en­sure Zam­fara State be­gan pay­ing the judg­ment sum with in­ter­est from de­duc­tions from its funds in the Fed­er­a­tion Ac­count. The judg­ment sum, with in­ter­est, as or­dered by Jus­tice Abang, to­talled N3.1bn.

But the Zam­fara State gov­ern­ment and the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria (CBN) ap­pealed the judg­ment and prayed the High Court for a stay of ex­e­cu­tion.

Last Tues­day, Jus­tice Abang dis­missed the prayer and in­stead, or­dered com­mer­cial banks in which Zam­fara state’s funds are domi­ciled to ap­pear be­fore the court on Novem­ber 6, 2015 to ex­plain why such funds in their hold should not be seized to set­tle Ecobank’s loan.

Mayanchi told the Daily Trust yes­ter­day that the state gov­ern­ment was still go­ing ahead with its ap­peal, but nev­er­the­less, the state gov­ern­ment has “a clear agenda for re­pay­ing the loan.”

The APC spokesman ex­plained that when the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment of Al­haji Ab­du­laziz Yari as­sumed of­fice, “it re­al­ized part of the loan had been ser­viced by the gov­ern­ment that se­cured it.” Con­se­quently, Gov Yari, he said, met the man­age­ment of the bank and both par­ties agreed the loan would be re­paid in­stal­men­tally.

“How do they ex­pect the state gov­ern­ment to pay N3.1bn at the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion? The state gov­ern­ments have been en­meshed in financial crises and can’t even pay salaries,” Mayanchi stated.

The Ecobank man­age­ment was in­sist­ing on the ex­e­cu­tion of the court or­der, as told the Daily Trust yes­ter­day by Mr Austin Osop­kor, the bank’s Head of Cor­po­rate Af­fairs. The Gombe State Agency for Mi­cro­fi­nance Banks has ex­plained that the cus­tomer based in newly es­tab­lished 11 mi­cro fi­nance banks in the state has hit over 50,000.

The Spe­cial Ad­viser of the Gombe State Gover­nor on Mi­cro­fi­nance banks, Al­haji Mo­hammed Adamu Damji stated this yes­ter­day in Gombe, Damji said the num­ber in­di­cated the ac­cept­abil­ity of the 11 mi­cro­fi­nance banks in each of the 11 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state.

He said the banks were es­tab­lished af­ter the state re­ceived N2 bil­lion from the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria (CBN) to boost the eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties of ru­ral dwellers.

Damji said the banks kicked off suc­cess­fully with sound credit fa­cil­i­ties and presently have over 50,000 cus­tomers in less than one year.

He said the banks dis­trib­uted soft loans to over half of their cus­tomers who have started pay­ing the loans de­spite chal­lenges of in­se­cu­rity that af­fect the north east­ern part of the coun­try.

PHOTO Onyekachukwu Obi

From left: Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary FCT, Engr. John Chukwu; Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Min­istry of Mines and Steel De­vel­op­ment, Mr. Dauda Shuaibu Kigbu; Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pres­i­dent, Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion (SGF), Engr. Babachir David Lawal; Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor SCC Nige­ria Ltd Engr. Yu­val Levy and Group Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ex­plo­ration & Pro­duc­tion NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru, dur­ing the of­fi­cial com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony of the ul­tra mod­ern steel pipe manufacturing mill, held at Ushafa, Abuja yes­ter­day.

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