Abubakar Malami, AGF

After News Digest’s report, Nigerian govt establishes agency for management of recovered assets

NEWS DIGEST – Weeks after the News Digest’s report on the Federal Government’s poor management of assets recovered from looters, the Federal Executive Council has approved the establishment of the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency in the country.

Recall that this newspaper had exclusively reported on how the country’s anti-graft agencies neglect recovered assets, recommending, among other things, that the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management agency be created to stem the continuous rotting of these national assets.

Responding to the call, the FEC, during a virtual meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, approved the transmission of the bill to the National Assembly.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the FEC meeting, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, explained that the agency was necessary, pointing out that previous proceeds of crime are scattered in different and multiple agencies.

Mr Malami said: “The Federal Ministry of Justice presented to Council a memo today. The Council memo is about a Bill which will seek the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage. It is Proceeds of Crime Recovery and management Agency Bill.

“It is in essence a bill that is targeted and intended to have in place a legal and institutional framework. 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 ad-hoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you off-head (sic) 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.”

The News Digest report which published in a two-part report, took a look at how lack of public data as well as inadequate powers had been hindering the fight against corruption in Nigeria, thereby encouraging misuse of these assets.

Olanrewaju Suraju, the head of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CISNAC), had noted that the Federal Government’s inability to pass the Proceeds Recovery Bill was a drawback in its fight against corruption.