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Stakeholders kick as FG plans to borrow funds from dormant accounts, unacclaimed dividends

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Despite opposition from stakeholders, the federal government has decided to borrow funds from unclaimed dividends and dormant bank accounts.

The accounts balances are the ones unattended to for at least six years.

Part of the law provides that, “Any unclaimed dividend of a public limited liability company quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and any unutilised amounts in a dormant bank account maintained in or by a deposit money bank, which has remained unclaimed or unutilised for a period of not less than six years from the date of declaring the dividend or domiciling the funds in a bank account, shall be transferred immediately to the trust fund.”

The law says that the monies transferred to the trust fund will be a “special debt owed by the federal government to shareholders and dormant bank account holders.”

The law exempts official bank accounts owned by the federal government, state governments or local governments or any of their ministries, departments or agencies,.

The operation of the trust fund will be supervised by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and governed by a governing council chaired by the finance minister and a co-chairperson from the private sector appointed by the president.

Other members of the governing council shall include the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), managing director of the National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), a representative of the registrars of companies, two representatives of the shareholders’ association, a representative of the Bankers’ Committee with the director-general of the Debt Management Office functioning as the secretary of the trust fund.

But shareholders and other members of the capital market community had opposed the provisions of the law

They said that the government lacks powers to manage funds belonging to private sector investors.

“Dividends are private wealth of investors, either individuals or corporate entities. The idea of converting such private wealth to federal wealth negates the relevant provisions of the rights to own property as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution. Our opinion is that S39 to the extent of its inconsistency with S44 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is null and void.

“The law expressly states that there shall be no forceful takeover of any private movable property of any Nigerian without due and appropriate compensation and or valid court order,” shareholders under the aegis of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) had said.