By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives on Wednesday received an Executive bill via a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari requesting that the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2020 be given expedited hearing and passage into law given the importance of the bill in generating revenue for the country.
Contained in the letter read by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila during plenary, President Buhari explained that the Proceeds of Crime Bill is essential and critical in building an enduring and sustainable foundation for the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through banking system and across the Nigerian borders.
President Buhari further explained that the Bill will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize, freeze, and confiscate stolen assets in Nigeria white observing all related constitutional and human rights laws adding that it 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.
According to him, 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 ehforcement and administration of the provisions of the Bill and the coordination of the recovery and management of the proceeds and instm‘mentalitiec of uniawful activity in Nigeria in ooliaboration with anti-conuption 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 win 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”, he said.
President Buhari said the bill was presented to the Federal Executive Council, in council memo dated 16th September 2020 and was subsequently approved for transmission to the National Assembly.
Recall that the Bill was passed by the National Assembly in 2019 but was not granted assent due to some issues that were identified during the review.