FG Properties: House Recovers N1.08B From Banks

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, July 13, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives has said it recovered from six banks the total sum of N1.086 billion being the interest yield on federal government accounts for the sale of government properties across the country.

Chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Habitat, Hon. Garba Shehu Matazu who disclosed this today at an investigative hearing on the activities of the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) in Abuja said the highest amount of N404.173 million was retrieved from Oceanic Bank while N226.209 million was got from Skye Bank, N115.295 million from Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB) and N59.806 million from Intercontinental Bank.

Other recoveries include N241.426 million from WEMA Bank while N36.754 million was recovered from UBA.

Matazu said the committee had to resort to threats and invocation of constitutional means before the banks were compelled to remit the money to federal government coffers.

He said the committee discovered in the course of its investigation that the non-payment of the interest by banks bothered on "sheer deceit, unwillingness to remit and the belief that if the said funds are not recovered after a time, it may be forgotten.

"The committee frowned at this flagrant affront by these banks, which it adjudged deliberate and aimed at defrauding the government and people of Nigeria.

"We went further to threaten the concerned banks with the invitation of the police and EFCC if they fail to remit the withheld funds into the coffers of the IPC", Matazu disclosed.

In his remarks at the occasion, minister of Housing, Hon. Nduesse Essien commended the House for the recovery noting that since he assumed duty, he has been faced with the responsibility of supervising the PIC ensuring that all monies due to the government were paid as and when due.

He said as at July 9, 2010, all the banks holding government funds from the sale of properties had paid up. The minister also disclosed that as from next month, the federal government will appoint six new reputable banks to hold the PIC accounts.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House, Hon. Dimeji Bankole has stated that the recovery of the N1.08 billion is in line with the avowed philosophy of the parliament in ensuring that public funds are not hidden anywhere.

He said the House had during the 2008 financial year made a recovery of N400 billion of unutilized funds, which were promptly paid into the federal government treasury adding that that singular gesture ushered in a culture of returning unspent funds to government.

Represented by the minority leader of the House, Hon. Mohammed Ali Ndume, the Speaker noted that the concept of input, output and outcome introduced by his leadership and embraced by the Housing committee was yielding dividends explaining that it is an antidote to exposing and checking corruption in government.

While commending the committee for a job well-done, the Speaker said that "it is a fact that our various committees are out there working hard protecting billions of public funds under very difficult and curious conditions as a matter of self sacrifice."