The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a bill that seeks to, among other things, create an agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of managing proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
With the approval of the bill titled ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,’ the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has been directed to transmit same to the National Assembly for the purpose of passing it into law.
Malami disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Buhari presided over the virtual meeting from the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja with some ministers in attendance while others participated from their offices.
The Minister of Justice said the current situation in the country is that the proceeds of crime are currently in the hands of multiple government agencies.
He said once the bill is passed into law and the agency created, it will be the only agency that will be managing the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
He said, “The bill is targeted and intended to have in place legal and institutional framework. The legal component of it is having a law while the institutional component of it is to have an agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
“What happens before now is that 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, EFCC, and ICPC.
“So, with that kind of arrangement which is adhoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you offhand the number of landed assets, immovable assets, the amount in cash that are recovered by the Federal Government by way of interim forfeiture or final forfeiture.
“So, it is indeed over time a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.
“It is the next level of transparency and accountability that we will have in place an agency of government that is exclusively responsible for proceeds of crime.
“It will be 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 information.”
Malami added that once there is a budget line for recovered assets directed by the President, the agency to be created would be in a position to provide information to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on demand concerning what amount is available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency which has not been available before now.
When asked if the bill has to do with the recent experience with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the minister said there were failed attempts to present the bill to FEC in 2007, 2011, and 2019.
“So, to now tie it to a particular institution or particular development of 2020, I think is unfounded taking into consideration the historical antecedents relating to the bill,” he said.