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Senate Empowers AMCON in New Bill to Seize Debtors’ Assets



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Senate has passed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Amendment (AMCON) bill after considering the report of its Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions.

Senate Empowers AMCON in New Bill to Seize Debtors’ Assets

The amendment bill empowers AMCON to, among others, take possession, manage or sell all assets traced to debtors, whether or not such assets or property are used as security/collateral for obtaining the loan.

It also empowers the corporation to access the special tribunal established by the BOFIA, 2020 for dealing with financial related matters.

Presenting the report, Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), chairman of the Committee, said the committee engaged with stakeholders such as AMCON, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

According to him, the stakeholders in their submissions pushed for AMCON to be empowered to take possession, manage, foreclose or sell, transfer, assign or otherwise of property used as security for eligible bank assets among others.

This, he said, would provide for a quicker, easier and legitimate process of assets disposal.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), deputy president of the Senate, during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, sought to know the rationale behind the recommendation of the committee in clause two, which empowers AMCON to take possession of assets outside of those used as collateral in obtaining a loan request.

He said: “The essence of collateral is that in the event of default, you lose that asset. What I am reading here is that in addition to seizing that asset, they (AMCON) want to go beyond that to every other asset or property that is traceable to the debtor. I think I need some clarifications to that.

Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North-East) also said no creditor should be allowed to go outside the asset presented for the facility.

Senator Adamu Aliero said: “Mr. Chairman, if you can recall, during debate on this bill, senators made it abundantly clear that these debtors are taking government money and they are using it freely and going free, and we need stringent measures to be enforced to recover the money.”

Dr. Ahmad Lawan, president of the Senate at this point, called for a voice vote on the contentious clause, which eventually was adopted by the majority.

After the passage of the bill, Senators Bassey Akpan and Chukwuka Utazi, while relying on Point of Order 73, contested Lawan’s ruling by requesting for a division.

Utazi kicked against the clause empowering AMCON to take possession of assets traced to debtors, saying that most of the banks that have those bad debts colluded with the customers in doing that in the first place.

Interjecting, Lawan said: “When we come to legislate, we all come here with a very clear mind; that we are doing this for our country. We don’t have any interest but the national interest. And when the majority of our colleagues here in their judgement feel that this is the right thing to do, that’s the majority view, unless we have any cause to reverse ourselves.

”If the majority of senators say this is what they feel should be done to remedy a situation that requires our attention, I think we should allow that.

And besides, I believe we had explanations from the committee members who went through all the processes; So, I believe that we should let it go. Let the people go to court to test it, but our hope and desire is for AMCON to be able to recover huge sums of money – trillions that people have taken and now is on the head of Nigerians. And, it is criminal, really. People will consciously take money. I will advise that we stick to our decision.”

Senators Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South) and Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), advocated the inclusion of a provision amid the AMCON amendment, to give it precedence over any other law that may be used to cite an instance of conflict.

Na’Allah stated that they have to put a clause to say, ‘notwithstanding the provisions obtained in any other law to enable the law take effect.’

Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), while citing the Senate rules, observed that it will be out of order to reconsider any specific question, upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session, except upon a substantive motion or decision.

He said: ”All the discussion we are making on it now is of no value, they are not supposed to be recorded because we have come to a decision on it. It may be wrongly or rightly, but we have ended it.”

Lawan, thereafter, ruled in favour of the provision of the Senate Rule cited by Sekibo and the bill was passed.

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Swiftlink to Deepen Financial Inclusion with Payment Services



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Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, Chairman, Swiftlink Global Services Limited, has said the company remained committed to supporting the significant achievements in financial inclusion driven by the initiatives, programmes, and policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Speaking at the recent launch of Swiftlink in Abuja, he said the platform will provide a robust, accessible, affordable, efficient, and adequate financial solution for the under- banked and un-banked in the nooks and crannies of the country.

He said the company seeks to become the major digital payment service provider especially in the North East where such footprints are almost non-existent.

Abdul Mutallab said the platform will engage in collections, payment and value-added services, terminal management, and agency banking services.

He said, “This is a journey to create harmonies for a system where even the everyday traders and farmers in villages can effortlessly access financial services from the convenience of their surroundings in a language that resonates with them and also access disbursements on social intervention programmes of the government and other development partners.”


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Stanbic IBTC Expands Securities Lending to Fixed Income Securities



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Stanbic IBTC Bank Limited, has announced the extension of its securities lending services to include fixed income securities.

This development marks a new milestone in the Nigerian capital market, providing clients with enhanced opportunities for income generation and increased market liquidity.

With this development, institutional clients, both local and international, can now borrow and lend not just equities but also fixed income securities such as Federal Government Bonds and Treasury Bills, offering them greater flexibility and diversified investment options.

Head, Investor Services at Stanbic IBTC Bank Limited, Babatunde Majiyagbe, in a statement said: “Expanding our securities lending services to include fixed income securities provides our clients with broader opportunities to generate income and enhances overall market liquidity.

“This expansion not only broadens the scope of our offerings but also a provides our clients with wider range of assets to optimise their investment strategies and achieve their business objectives, enhancing the overall liquidity and efficiency of the Nigerian capital market. This move underscores our commitment to driving innovation and growth in the Nigerian capital market.”

Majiyagbe added: “Securities lending facilitates continuous trading and liquidity, which are essential for a vibrant market. Our expansion into fixed income securities will attract more investors and foster a more robust and resilient capital market.

“In 2023 alone, we facilitated the lending of assets worth 150 million naira,” Majiyagbe noted. “This reflects the growing trust and demand for our securities lending services and underscores our role in enhancing market liquidity and efficiency.”


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Fidelity Bank’s Consistent Strong Growth Excites Investors



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Fidelity Bank Plc has recorded an average annual profit growth of 64 per cent over the past three years, underlining its resilience as one of Nigeria’s fastest growing companies.

The bank has also seen rapid expansion in customer base and assets as total balance sheet size leapt from N2.1 trillion to N6.2 trillion, the sixth largest in the Nigerian banking industry. The balance sheet was driven by a hefty total deposit of more than N4 trillion, equally the sixth biggest in the industry.

A review of the audited reports and accounts of Fidelity Bank between 2023 and 2020 showed double-digit growths over the years with cumulative average annual growth rate (CAGR) in earnings, profitability and assets significantly above average industry rate and within the best performance among publicly quoted companies.

Average annual profit growth rate of 64 per cent underscores Fidelity Bank’s fundamental strength as an inflation-hedging investment. The operational growth strengthens the overall return outlook of the bank, which share price has delivered an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent in five years at the stock market.

Several experts’ reviews have said the bank’s strong historical performance is a major attraction for its ongoing combined rights and public offer.

Fidelity Bank is offering a rights issue of 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share. The bank is also simultaneously offering 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the rights issue and public offer, which opened on Thursday, June 20, 2024, are scheduled to close on Monday, July 29, 2024. The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of one new ordinary share for every 10 existing ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Friday, January 05, 2024.

Fidelity Bank’s gross earnings rose successively from N206 billion in 2020 to N251 billion, N337 billion and N556 billion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively, representing average annual growth of 39 per cent. Profit before tax has grown consecutively from N28 billion in 2020 to N124 billion in 2023. Profit after tax jumped from N26.65 billion in 2020 to N99.45 billion in 2023. Earnings per share has also grown from 92 kobo in 2020 to N3.11 in 2023, showing the headroom for increased dividends to shareholders.

The bank’s profitability has been driven by continuous increase in market share, a strong commitment to national economic growth with supports for businesses and high customer trust.

Fidelity Bank’s total assets has grown successively from N2.11 trillion in 2019 to N2.76 trillion in 2020 and consecutively to N3.28 trillion, N3.99 trillion and N6.23 trillion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. Shareholders’ funds have also grown successively from N234.03 billion in 2019 to N273.53 billion, N285.29 billion, N314.36 billion and N437.31 billion in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Total deposit has grown by an average annual growth of 33 per cent from N1.7 trillion in 2020 to N4.02 trillion in 2023. A breakdown underlined a strong customer confidence with low-cost deposit accounting for 97.4 per cent of total deposit.

Low-cost deposit has grown at a faster CAGR of 44 per cent over the period, rising from N1.31 trillion in 2020 to N3.91 trillion in 2023. Savings accounts had also doubled over the period from N424 billion in 2020 to N881 billion in 2023, representing average annual growth rate of 28 per cent.

Fidelity Bank has more than 8.0 million customers, with 5.1 million of these customers on digital channels, underlining the strength of the bank’s robust information and communication technology.

As customers increasingly entrust the bank with their funds, Fidelity Bank has also shown equally aggressive commitment to national economic growth with average annual growth of 32 per cent in net loans.

Net loans have grown successively from N1.32 trillion in 2020 to N1.66 trillion, N2.12 trillion and N3.09 trillion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. The above average growth in loans shows Fidelity Bank’s famed supports for Nigerian businesses. The bank’s loans portfolio is the fifth largest in the Nigerian banking industry.

A frontline industrialist and a customer of the bank, Dr Kamoru Yusuf, Founder of KAM Holding, said Fidelity Bank has been exceptional in supporting the development of Nigerian companies.

Yusuf, whose group has metamorphosed into a global business conglomerate operating in three countries across two continents, confirmed that KAM Holding has benefited immensely from financial supports from Fidelity Bank.

He said investing in Fidelity Bank will be an investment in the growth of Nigerian economy and companies like KAM Holding, the nation’s largest wholly indigenous metal and steel production company.

He underlined the relationship between increased capital for a business-focused bank like Fidelity Bank and the overall development of the Nigerian economy.

There are strong indications that the bank will sustain its impressive growth record in the years ahead. Already, interim report and account of the bank for the first quarter ended March 31, 2024 showed that the bank started the current business year on stronger footing with three-digit growths across key performance indicators.

The three-month report showed that gross earnings increased by 89.9 per cent to N192.1 billion in first quarter 2024. The bank’s top-line performance continued to be driven by broad-based growths across income lines with interest income rising by 90.7 per cent and non-interest income growing by 84 per cent in first quarter 2024.

Growth in interest income was primarily spurred by a higher yield environment and strong earning assets base, while the increase in non-interest income was led by double-digit growth in account maintenance charges, foreign exchange (forex)-related income, trade, banking services, and remittances, supported by increased customer transactions.

Profit before tax doubled by 120 per cent to N39.5 billion in first quarter 2024 as against N17.9 billion in first quarter 2023. The bank’s performance was driven by expanding market share with total deposit rising by 17 per cent within the three months to N4.7 trillion, compared with N4 trillion recorded at the end of 2023.

The bank also increased its supports for national economic growth with net loans and advances rising by 21 per cent from N3.1 trillion at the end of 2023 to N3.7 trillion by March 2024.

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