Attorney General Describes Proceeds of Crime Bill Passage Panacea to Assets Recovery


ABUJA – (Federal Ministry of Justice Report) – The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said that Nigerians need to understand that the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill would put to rest most of the questions and loopholes being experienced in asset recovery.

Abubakar Malami made this known during an interactive session with the Alliance of Civil Society Organization Advocating for the Passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill at the Ministry lately in Abuja. Represented by the Head of Assets Recovery Unit, Ladidi Mohammed, the Minister inferred that the law would provide a framework where all stolen assets recovered would be centrally managed in a transparent and accountable manner and the institutional processes established by-law would make the use of stop-gap measures like Executive Orders irrelevant.

Malami was elated that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are pushing for the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill. According to him, as part of the anti-corruption efforts, the present administration has always engaged with CSOs as integral partners, being conscious of the significance in citizens taking ownership of the fight against corruption.

“This is demonstrated in the commitment we made in signing up the ‘Open Government Partnership’ and its joint implementation with non-state actors. We appreciate your enthusiasm, commitment and support for the government in our efforts to deal with corruption and institutionalize good governance in Nigeria,” he insisted.

The Minister explained that in the last couple of years, the administration has seen successful repatriation of assets from Switzerland and the United Kingdom and is presently in the process of recovering more repatriations from New Jersey. He further described as important for the recovered assets to be used in a manner that is optimally beneficial to the ordinary Nigerians, who are the victims of corruption.

“It is in the light of this that the Government working with its international partners, agreed to the use of 322.5 million dollars recovered from Switzerland for the Cash Transfer Programme which is targeted at the poorest Nigerians amongst us,” he stressed.

He further indicated that the Assets Recovery and Management Unit would be working intensively to implement the directive to create a centralized digital assets registry of all recovered assets, ensure the use of the proceeds of such assets for priority projects that would benefit the general public and to make the registry and projects being funded known to the public.

The Minister exuded hope that through joint efforts and with the cooperation of the legislative arm of government, the Proceeds of Crime Bill would be passed and signed into law before the end this administration.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi (Senator) in his remarks pointed out that it is the issue of interpretation about what is conventional and legalistic that keeps the bills pending. He added that if the issue of disclosure policy is done, everything would work out well.

The Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, David Ugolor (Rev) expressed appreciation to the leadership of the Ministry for involving civil societies in the development of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) and also into the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee for effective implementation of NACS. He observed that it is an indication of political will to involve the citizens in anti-corruption policy work in Nigeria, promising to continue the policy engagement with the current administration.

In his remarks at the event, the Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation / Minister of Justice, Abiodun Aikomo emphasized that when the Proceeds of Crime Bill is passed into law, the e-government procedure would be adopted, in order to have a central database of all assets recovered.

Abiodun Aikomo allayed that since all the government agencies such as EFCC and ICPC amongst others are into recovering looted assets, it is difficult to coordinate and harmonize, but upon the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, a digitalized centralized system would be put in place through which Nigerians could monitor on their phones.

The Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes II in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice), Kehinde Oginni in his remarks said that the assets have to be managed and utilized to have impact on the lives of the Nigerian people. He also noted that the interactive session this day was the last push for the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, calling on the National Assembly to ensure that the bill is passed into law.