President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, initiated moves to unbundle the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and create a new body, Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who read a letter from President Buhari on the proposed bill tagged: “Proceeds of Crime Bill” said it would address the problem of lack of transparency and accountability associated with the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies in the country.
Buhari in the letter explained that the transmission of the piece of legislation to the National Assembly for consideration followed its approval by the Federal Executive Council.
According to the letter dated October 6, the agency would be critical in sustaining the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across Nigerian borders.
“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.”
If signed into law, the bill will stop the EFCC and six other anti-corruption agencies from securing freezing orders on suspicious bank accounts under investigation
The other agencies, include Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU); National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the police.
“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,” the President said.
When the Bukola Saraki-led senate passed the bill last year, the EFCC, headed by suspended acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, opposed it and urged President Buhari to reject it.