All senior police officers in the 36 states of the federation have an obligation to support the drive by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to recover the over N5trillion debt owed the government by various individuals and companies, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, has said.
The IGP stated this when the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Ahmed Lawan Kuru, led some top officials of AMCON to visit him in his office in Abuja on Tuesday.
The visit was the first by the AMCON boss since his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 6, 2021.
Alkali Baba acknowledged the strategic importance to the economy of the recovery of the AMCON debt, the police and especially the senior personnel, including all Assistant Inspector-Generals of Police (AIGs) as well as the Commissioners of Police (CPs) must support the agency’s recovery efforts.
Recalling that when AMCON was first created, the IGP said the police authorities at the time told officers and men of the police force to support AMCON whenever they call for support since police remain the lead agency of the Federal Government in the maintenance of internal security.
Assuring that the police under his leadership would continue to provide the much-needed support to AMCON, the IGP said the directive to the police hierarchy across the country then, needed to be resuscitated.
“As I said, I remember when AMCON was created, we were told that whenever AMCON calls for support, we (the Police) must support them as a lead agency of the government in charge of internal security. All we need is a letter from AMCON.
“We need to resuscitate that directive nationwide to all the AIGs and CPs to support AMCON within the ambit of the law so that the agency can continue to carry out its debt recovery effort,” he said.
He acknowledged the challenge of pursuing debtors, saying from experience, some of them resort to go to court to challenge AMCON for doing its job, just to waste time, even when they are sure they would not win the case.
The IGP said AMCON needs the police because as long as the agency was concerned, it would continue to have litigations, which would require police backing to execute enforcements.
The police under his watch, the IGP said, would remain as professional as possible, adding that in calling for police support, AMCON must be ready to fulfill all that is required by law for his officers and men to provide full coverage of the law whenever they are confronted during enforcements on obligors of AMCON.
In his remarks, the AMCON boss recalled the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 which led to the creation of AMCON by the Federal Government.
He said the huge foreign portfolio withdrawals of credit lines and investments from Nigeria resulted in the collapse of the stock market leading to the loss of about 80 percent of its value.
With all these crises and the need to protect the financial sector in the country, Kuru said the AMCON Bill was passed in 2010 by the National Assembly and signed into law by the President on July 19, 2010.
In May 2015, the AMCON Act Amendment Bill was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and in July 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AMCON (Amendment No. 2) Act, 2019 into law as well.
The AMCON assignment, he said, was nationalistic and therefore required the support of all, particularly law enforcement agencies, including the police, to strengthen the AMCON task force.
“The police is critical to AMCON’s recovery effort through enforcements. We have been able to recover over N1.4trillion and more than 60 percent has been due to enforcements because our obligors will not willingly come to us for repayment. So, this is a national assignment we cannot achieve without the support of law enforcement agencies,” Kuru told the IGP.
He said the support of the police was crucial in view of the fact that the AMCON debt recovery drive was now at a very critical stage of enforcement requiring the collaboration of law enforcement authorities.