Published On: Thu, Nov 7th, 2019

Malami lists benefits of Assets Recovery Regulation 2019

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By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

 

Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said that the issuance of the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 is to address the absence of coordination and proper management

of seized, forfeited or confiscated assets as well as to ensure

transparency in the process of disposal of forfeited assets.

This was contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu,

the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar

Malami, SAN and made available to newsmen in Abuja.

The Minister observed that the  “Asset Tracing, Recovery and

Management Regulations, 2019 as contained in the Federal Government

Gazette Vol. 106, No 163, was informed by the need to regulate the

procedures for the tracing, recovery, management and disposal of

illegally acquired assets as required under various extant

legislation.

Such extant legislations included the EFCC Act, 2004, the ICPC Act,

2000, the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012, the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013, the Nigeria

Financial Intelligence Agency Act, 2018 as well as the Mutual

Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, 2019.

Malami added that Section 4 of the Regulations retains all the powers

of law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies in their extant laws

as it relates to asset recovery and therefore the issue of taking over

the powers of these agencies does not arise.

The Attorney General noted that where more than one agency is involved

in the tracing of the same proceeds of crime, the Attorney General

shall coordinate and ensure that there is synergy and successful

recovery.

The 2019 Regulations provides for the oversight of the non-conviction

based forfeiture by the Attorney General as it requires the application of civil procedure in the recovery of specific assets.

The Minister further highlighted that Section 3 of the 2019

Regulations recognized the need for agencies to provide details of all

seized and forfeited assets to the data bank established by the Federal

Ministry of Justice, while Section 11 of the Regulation addresses the

issue of what happens once assets are disposed of.

According to him, “It is clear from the Regulations that when the assets are disposed,

the funds recovered whether it is recovered from outside or from

within the country shall be paid into the Asset Recovery Account in

the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“From the moment it is paid into this

account, the Minister of Finance becomes accountable for the

management of these funds for the purpose of moving it into the

consolidated revenue account and to disburse it as required under the

Appropriation Act.

“This is an important improvement from what has been the procedure

where agencies maintained multiple accounts after disposing assets.

“It is also important to note that since 2017, the President approved a

line item in the Appropriation Act where Recovered Asset is identified

as a source of revenue.

“No President in the history of Nigeria took this step to understand that all recovered assets belong to all

Nigerians and should be properly accounted for”, he explained.

The Attorney General maintained that Nigerians should commend the President for this foresight and his continuing support to all the efforts of

all the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies responsible for

the recovery and repatriation of recovered assets.

Another benefit of the regulation which the Minister pointed out is that the

Regulations provides for a disposal process that it makes all

stakeholders participants in the disposal exercise.

For example, Section 10(1) of the Gazette reads “the Attorney-General of the Federation shall set up a structure for transparent management of all

Final Forfeited Assets” comprising of relevant stakeholders.

Section 10(2) enumerated the stakeholders to include but not limited

to Federal Ministry of Justice, Economic and Financial Crimes

Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences

Commission, Federal Ministry responsible for matters relating to

Finance; Central Bank of Nigeria and Federal Ministry of Works and

Housing.

Other stakeholders listed in the Gazette included Accountant-General

of the Federation and Auditor-General of the Federation, Nigerian Army

(Joint Task Force), Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria

Security Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Maritime Administration and

Safety Agency and representative of Civil Society Organizations.

 

 

 

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