The House of Representatives yesterday threatened to ask the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take over the ownership of Heritage Bank for owing the government more money than it’s entire share capital put together.
Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots, Moveable and immoveable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by agencies of the Federal government for Effective and Efficient Management and Utilisation, Rep. Adejoro Adeogun issued the threat at the resumed hearing of the Committee.
Adeogun, who was visibly angry at the absence of the management of Heritage Bank at the hearing, said the bank will not be allowed to continue to play games with the National Assembly or feel to big to respond to invitations.
He said “I need to send this message to Heritage Bank that we are not comedians here and we are not joking here. If Heritage Bank is owing Nigeria more than it’s share capital, we will not hesitate to ask the National Assembly to write to CBN to take over Heritage Bank.
“They cannot be owing more than their share capital and feel too big to respond to invitations from the National Assembly. Clark, you have to write them, giving them till Wednesday next week. That is the last time we are going to give them”.
The Committee however turned back all Representatives of the bank and the Representative of the Accountant General of the Federation, saying they lack the capacity to give answers to the questions from the Committee, giving them till Wednesday next week to appear before the House Committee.
“The Chief Financial Officer of NNPC is here to confront you with their own facts and then they are sending you. You can’t speak for your bank. If your bank continue with this level of unseriousness, I will issue a warrant for the arrest of your MD and I am being straight forward about that. We can’t be playing games.
Responding to claim by the Legal Officer who represented the bank, but failed to identify himself that the bank has tendered evidence of the payment, the Committee Chairman said “You did not tender any evidence. You wrote a letter saying you directed CBN. Directing CBN does not mean CBN has paid the money. You directed CBN to use your reserve and if they make that payment, your reserve will fall below regulatory requirement. So, CBN has ignored your advice and they have not paid.
“There is term of your judgement and you are supposed to be conforming to that terms. You keep playing games as if you are bigger than the National Assembly and I have been patient with your bank. It has gotten to the time when we have to use the big stick.
“That money is supposed to be paid into the Federations account to fund the 2022 budget abs you cannot continue to hold on to government funds. So, you have between now and Wednesday next to appear here with evidence of your payment, not instruction to CBN because that is not acceptable. We have to make sure that you pay that 32 million dollars to Nigerians.”
The Chief Financial Officer of the NNPC who was present as the hearing, Umar Ajiya said the NNPC was yet to receive the payment from the CBN, saying “Polaris Bank is still owing us 32 million dollars.