BY BODE GBADEBO AND EMAMEH GABRIEL, Abuja
The Senate has received an Executive Bill that would amongst others, establish a new agency to address the problem of lack of transparency and accountability associated with the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari in a letter to the Senate explained that the decision to transmit the piece of legislation to the National Assembly for consideration was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
According to the letter dated October 6, 2020, and read at plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, it said the ‘Proceeds of Crime Bill’, was critical in sustaining the fight against corruption.
The letter reads: “I am pleased to inform the Distinguished Senators that the above mention Bill was presented to the Federal Executive Council, in council memo EC (2020)159 on 16th September 2020 and was subsequently approved for transmission to the National Assembly.”
“Please recall that this Bill was passed by the National Assembly in 2019 but was not granted assent due to some issues that were identified during the review.
“The Proceeds of Crime Bill is essential and critical in building and enduring and sustainable foundation for the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across the Nigerian borders.
“The bill will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize, freeze, and confiscate stolen assets in Nigeria while observing all related constitutional and human rights laws.
This Bill will also address the problem of lack of transparency, accountability, and lack of credible records associated with the current procedure in the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies and other institutions in Nigeria.
“An important feature of the Bill is the creation of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Agency. The objects of the Agency include the enforcement and administration of the provisions of the Bill and the coordination of the recovery and management of the proceeds and instrumentalities of unlawful activity in Nigeria in all collaboration with anti-corruption and other law enforcement agencies.
“Most importantly, the Agency will ensure that Nigerians can benefit from proceeds of crime by ensuring that once recovery is made, the properties and assets will be secured and that the final forfeitures granted through a court order can be paid into the Confiscated and Forfeited Account to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“These funds will be used for development projects approved by the National Assembly under the annual Appropriation Act and also support the work of the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies,” Buhari wrote.
LEADERSHIP reports that on the next legislative day, the Senate will list the Bill for First Reading, where the short title of the Bill will be read ahead of the Second Reading stage, which will be preceded by a debate on the proposed legislation afterwhich it will be referred to the relevant committee of the Senate for further legislative inputs.