The Central Bank of Nigeria has moved against some of the country’s biggest businessmen by barring banks from offering them credit facilities. The move was apparently made in order to further consolidate the Central Bank Governor’s conviction that discipline needs to be introduced into Nigeria’s financial sector if financial stability would be achieved.
Nigerian banks have thus been barred from offering credit facilities to 113 companies and 419 directors/shareholders. Some of the companies affected belong to Mr. Femi Otedola, Alhaji Sayyu Dantata, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, former Power Minister, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi and Dr. Wale Babalakin.
Street Journal gathered that the country’s apex bank was compelled to take the decision because of the reluctance of the debtors to pay back their loans despite the purchase of the debts at an agreed price by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
According to a circular issued to banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria, dated September 17, 2012, the restriction would apply to individuals, organisations, companies as well as principal shareholders and directors of companies where the outstanding value of loans purchased by AMCON amounted to N5 billion or above as at the day of purchase, without regard to the actual amount paid by AMCON.
It was stated in the circular which was signed by CBN’s Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs. A. O. Martins that “it has become necessary to stop debtors who failed to repay their loans to banks and had these loans subsequently transferred to AMCON, from further enjoying credit facilities from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) until they fully repay agreed outstandings to AMCON.”
The list of companies that accompanied the circular included Zenon Petroleum, owned by Femi Otedola, with debts up to the tune of N192.4 billion; Sayyu Dantata’s company, MRS Holdings Limited – N119.98 billion; Seawolf Limited – N98.32 billion; Arik Air Limited, belonging to Arumemi-Ikhide – N85.481 billion; NITEL Plc/M-Tel – N71.547 billion; and Ifeanyi Ubah’s Capital Oil and Gas Limited – N48.014 billion.
Also listed were Falcon Securities, whose Managing Director, Mr. Peter Ololo, was arraigned alongside several bank executives in 2009 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – N162.9 billion; Rockson Engineering Limited, owned by Arumemi-Ikhide – N60.475 billion; BGL Securities – N6.44 billion; Rahamaniyya Oil & Gas Limited – N46.38 billion; Wale Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney Limited – N20.214 billion; and Geometrics Engineering, owned by Professor Nnaji – N19.76 billion.
Also barred from receiving facilities from banks are Aero Contractors Company, owned by the family of Olorogun Michael Ibru – N32.579 billion; Tinapa Business Resort – N18.509 billion; Nestoil Limited, belonging to oil and gas entrepreneur, Ernest Azudialu – N13.506 billion; Dorman Long Engineering – N9.667 billion; Henry Imasekha’s Ascott Offshore Nig. Ltd, Berkley Group – N64.728 billion; Gitto Constuzioni – N11.838 billion; and Dansa Foods – N14.880 billion, whose directors, Sani and Abdul Dangote, are the brothers of business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
Two states of the federation, Zamfara and Cross River also featured on the list of those to be blacklisted by commercial banks in view of the failure of the Tinapa Business Resort and Accountant General, Ministry of Finance, Zamfara to pay back loans collected.
The Central Bank of Nigeria pointed out that the restriction is effective from the date of the circular and shall remain “until full liquidation of agreed indebtedness to AMCON”.
It was contained in the circular that “negotiations are still ongoing and with fairly clear roadmap” in the case of Zenon Petroleum whose initial debt of N192.423 billion was priced by AMCON at N140.999 billion. It was also stated in the circular that MRS Holdings’ debt of N119.986 billion, acquired by AMCON at a price of N91.620 billion has been “restructured and is performing”. The comment on Seawolf’s debt of N98.328 billion that AMCON priced at N88.496 billion also read “negotiations ongoing.”