By Chesa Chesa
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a draft bill for the creation of a Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.
The bill was presented for approval by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, during the 15th virtual Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
He told State House Correspondents afterwards that the bill would be forwarded to National Assembly for approval and legal/institutional framework, as proceeds of crime are currently domiciled in different and multiple agencies.
Malami said that “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, 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 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 or final forfeiture. So, it is indeed overtime a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.
“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 holistic 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.”
Asked if the bill is a fall out of experience with the EFCC with particular reference to management of assets, Malami said there had actually been similar attempts to get the bill introduced in 2007 and 2011, so it would be unfounded to tie the bill just to events happening at EFCC now.
The Council also approved a new national policy on occupational safety and health, tagged National Policy on Occupational Safety 2020.
Minister of Labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said the new policy was aimed at ensuring that all workers are safe at their work places across the country, adding that it derives from provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention.
“The Federal executive Council today approved a new policy on occupational safety and health-2020. This policy is designed to make for safety and health of workers at work places.
“It gives specific roles to agencies like National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA,) Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA,) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA,) Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health*, he explained.
Ngige said the new policy has a review period of three years.