The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the establishment of a new anti-graft agency that will help take corruption fight to the ‘next lebel’.
Duing the FEC virtual meeting presided by President Muhmmadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, the council approved the transmission of a bill named “Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,” to the National Assembly.
The new anti-corruption named, “Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency” will be saddled with the responsibility of proper coordination and management of all recovered looted assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, told newsmen after the meeting that that the new agency is necessary to consolidate the gains achieved so far in the government’s war against corruption.
He explained that assets and proceeds of crimes are scattered in different and multiple agencies, noting that the new agency will encourage international/overall coordination in recovering more looted assets.
Malami further explained that once the bill becomes law and the agency is established, it would see to proper documentation and management of such recovered assets and thereby guarantee transparency and accountability.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice presented to Council a memo today. The Council memo is about a Bill which will seeks the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage. It is Proceeds of Crime Recovery and management Agency Bill.
“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 DSS (Department of State Service), EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), and ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission).
“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-hand 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 overweigh of a final forfeiture. So, it is indeed overtime a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.”
Malami said the new law seeks to move the fight against corruption to the next level, adding that the new agency will be responsible for managing and selling assets recovered from looters.
“Next level of transparency, next level of accountability in essence, 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, DSS, the Ministry of Justice is not in a position to know. So, for the purpose of decision making and policy, the federal government is not in a position to have a wholistic appreciation.
“So, by the bill that is now presented for the consideration of the council, we’ll have a law that establishes an agency, and secondly, an agency.
“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.”
When asked whether the bill stemmed from his experience with the suspended chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, he said it had been long in planning.
KanyiDaily recalls that Magu, who is being probed over allegations of corruption, had fingered Malami and called on the presidential investigative panel to summon the AGF.