- Bill to be sent to National Assembly for enactment into law
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill, which will take responsibility for managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
The new bill, when enacted into law, will take over the assets of proceeds of crime in Nigeria currently under the custody of the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, told journalists at the end of the 15th virtual FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that the bill will be forwarded to National Assembly for enactment into law.
Malami said that the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill “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 that 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 DSS, EFCC, and ICPC.
“So, with that kind of arrangement which is ad hoc, 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 or final forfeiture. So, it is indeed over time a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.”
The Minister said that the new law seeks to move the fight against corruption to the “next level of transparency, next level of accountability. In essence, it will have in place an agency of government that is exclusively responsible for anything proceeds of crime, a one-stop shop arrangement by which all the assets that are recovered arising from crimes that are indeed vested in the federal government.
“You have a one-stop arrangement where you can have an information. As it is, for example, the Federal Ministry of Justice is only in a position to account and giving comprehensive account of what recoveries were made by the ministry.
“But any recovery made by the Police or DSS, the Ministry of justice is not in a position to know. So, for the purpose of decision making and policy, the FG is not in a position to have a holistic appreciation.And as you rightly know, Mr President has sanctioned ever since he came on board that there should be a budget line, a budget item for recovered assets.
“So, if you have a budget item for recovered assets, this agency will now be in a position to provide information to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on demand as to what amount is available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now.
“So, it is about a memo that seeks to establish a legal framework, that seeks to establish institutional framework, that seeks to further take the fight against corruption to the next level by way of establishing transparency, accountability and making the possibility of forfeiture a proceeds of crime easy through the sanctioning of non-conviction based forfeiture among others.”
Malami noted that “there was an attempt some time back in 2007 to present to the FEC, it was unsuccessful. The bill was not passed. There was further attempt in 2011 to present same
bill with some material amendments. And then, it did not succeed in getting the blessings of FEC. And there was a further attempt in 2019 to present the Bill and it wasn’t as well successful but it eventually succeeded today.”