BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. March 10, 2022… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill 2022 passed by the Senate on Wednesday until amended to allow the creation of a separate agency to manage recovered assets.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor said experience from current management of recovered asset showed that it will be better for Nigeria to establish a separate agency for the management of all recovered assets to promote transparency and accountability instead of various anti-corruption agencies being saddled with the responsibility as contained in the Bill passed for presidential assent.
“Civil Society working in this sector are concerned about the provision of the Bill that seeks to expand the mandates of existing statutory institutions to manage proceeds of crime. Anti-Corruption agencies should focus on their current mandates and divested from recovered assets management. They should not be distracted by the task of disposal and management of assets.
“A number of examples abound in the country where schools, hospitals, hotels and other businesses recovered from corrupt Nigerians by ACAs were allowed to rot and decay without proper management of such assets. Nigerians working in such establishments were even thrown out of jobs and premises of such agencies sealed and, in most cases, allowed to rot and decay.
“This is why we want an amendment to the bill before Acting President Yemi Osinbajo or President Buhari appends his signature.” Rev Ugolor explained.
ANEEJ boss noted that there is no doubt about the remaining content of the Bill passed by the Senate describing it as a ‘fantastic piece of legislation,’ that would help tackle corruption in Nigeria, but was quick to add that ANEEJ wants the Senators to do a thorough job for posterity to remember them.
“Our appeal therefore, is to both the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our President. We do not want a Bill passed and signed that will not serve the core goal and objectives, otherwise, what will be the essence if it is to strengthen business as usual in the world of corruption,” Rev Ugolor quarried, pointing that there are other successful jurisdictions in the world where recovered assets are managed by an agency of government.
The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022. The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
It will be recalled that while presenting the Joint Committee’s report to his colleagues, Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari (Kaduna North), said the bill seeks to provide for the restraint, seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of properties derived from unlawful activities.
He explained that if signed into law, it would expand the mandates of existing statutory institutions to manage proceeds of crime, rather than creating a new body to carry out such function,” a provision that ANEEJ is vehemently opposing.