President Muhammadu Buhari has sent to the Senate, an executive bill that would, among others, ensure prudent management of monies and property confiscated from criminals by anti-graft agencies.
The bill is titled, ‘Proceeds of Crime Bill’.
In a letter to the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday, Buhari said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) took a collective decision to send the bill for the consideration and approval of the legislators.
The letter, dated October 6, 2020, and read during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, stated that the bill was critical in sustaining the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across Nigerian borders.
In addition to this, the bill will also address the lack of transparency and accountability associated with the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies in the country.
The letter read in part, “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 confiscated 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 objective 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.”
The National Assembly had on May 22, 2019, transmitted the Proceeds of Crime Bill to the President for his assent.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, Kayode Oladele, confirmed the development then.
Buhari, however, declined his assent to the bill.