Nigeria is soon to establish an agency to manage assets recovered by anti-graft agencies in the course of investigation and prosecution of offenders.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a bill to create the agency.
The bill, Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill, was approved following a memo submitted by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to the session presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The bill is now to be forwarded to the National Assembly for the necessary legislative fireworks.
The purpose of the proposed law/agency is to bring all recovered or forfeited assets under one umbrella where they can be properly managed and accounted for, as against the current practice where crime proceeds are scattered all over the place.
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Attempts to have a proceeds of crime bill in place had failed in three previous attempts.
The first attempt was made in 2007, followed by another one in 2011 and a third attempt in 2019.
In all the earlier attempts, the bill didn’t get the blessing of the FEC until the fourth one on Wednesday when it secured the approval.
Malami, while speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting, explained the aim of the bill further.
He stated, “It is in essence a bill that is targeted and intended to have in place a legal and institutional framework. The legal component of it is having a law. And the institutional component of it is to have an agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
“What happens before now is the proceeds of crime are scattered all over, and mostly in the hands of different and multiple agencies of government inclusive of the police, the Department of State Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.
“So, with that kind of arrangement which is adhoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you off head the number of landed assets, number of immovable assets , the amount in cash that are recovered by the federal government by way of interim forfeiture over weigh of a final forfeiture.
“So, it is indeed overtime a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.”
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The AGF, who added that the bill would enhance transparency in the anti-corruption fight of the government, denied that it had anything to do with the recent row between his office and the suspended former Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Rather, he said the idea of the bill pre-dated Magu and the present structure of the EFCC, as it was first initiated in 2007.
“So, perhaps to now tie it to a particular institution or particular development of 2020, I think is unfounded taking into consideration the historical antecedents relating to the bill”, Malami stated.