By Christiana Ekpa
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday checked for the support of the National Assembly towards building an enduring and sustainable foundation to fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across Nigerian borders.
The President revealed this in a supportive letter titled: ‘Proceeds of crime (Recovery and management) bill, 2020, dated 6th October, 2020 and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila read on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
The President while acknowledging that National Assembly passed the bill in 2019, explained that Proceeds of Crimes bill “was not granted assent due to some issues that were identified during the review,”
adding that the bill was presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), in Council
Memo EC (2020)159 on 16th September 2020 and was subsequently approved for transmission to the National Assembly.
According to him, “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 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.”
To this end, President Buhari solicited for expedite hearing and passage into law given the importance of the bill in generating revenue for the country.