· *Nigerians No Longer Flaunt Ill-gotten Wealth-Lai Mohammed
Powers of two anti-corruption agencies-Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) regarding forfeiture of assets by corrupt persons have been taken over by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN),announced the new measure, which whittles down the powers of the two agencies in a Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette Vol.106, No 163, titled, ‘Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulation 2019’, dated October 29, 2019.
However, Minister of Information and Culture. Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said the Federal Government’s strategies in fighting corruption have forced many corrupt persons to stop flaunting their ill-gotten wealth in the public.
Mohammed, said yesterday in Abuja at a Special Town Hall meeting that “corruption has been driven under the table” due to the successes recorded in the fight by the Buhari administration.
The new Gazette released by the AGF has scrapped all asset recovery and tracing committees. Under the new dispensation, the gazette stated in Part 3, Section 5(1) that all non-conviction based forfeiture shall be conducted by his office.
It said where a non-conviction -based forfeiture procedure arose, the law enforcement agency and anti-corruption agencies should transfer the matter to the office of the AGF.
“All non-conviction- based forfeiture shall be conducted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“Where a non-conviction- based forfeiture procedure arises, the LEA (Law Enforcement Agency) and ACAs (Anti-Corruption Agencies) shall transfer the matter to the Office of the AGF.”
The gazette further states that all seized assets shall be registered by all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and holds that all final forfeited assets recovered by agencies shall be handed over to the AGF within 60 days from the commencement of the regulations of management.
The gazette further directed the relevant Ministries, Departments and
Agencies to ensure that all seized assets were registered, while all final forfeited assets recovered by agencies shall be handed over to the AGF within 60 days from the commencement of the regulations of management.
The AGF warned that any agency head who failed to follow the new guidelines would be seriously sanctioned.
In his address at the Town Hall meeting in Abuja, attended by senior government officials, the Minister of information described the corruption war as a fight for the survival of Nigeria explaining that the success of the other key programmes of the government like revamping the economy and tackling insecurity, depended on it.
Mohammed said the fight against corruption was one of the three cardinal programmes of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, with the others being the war against insecurity and the revamping of the economy.
“Yes, this is not the first time Nigeria is fighting the canker-worm of corruption, but it is the first time that the fight is being backed by a strong political will, with a President renowned for his honour, dignity and incorruptibility, personally leading the fight that is making all the difference.
“One may say that the war against corruption is still a war in progress. But it is also fair to say that corruption has now been driven under the table, and that the corrupt ones can no longer flaunt the proceeds of their corruption the way they used to do in the past. That is a major step forward. After all, every successful battle is a step towards winning a war,” he said.
Corruption, he added, was closely intertwined with how well the nation was able to fight against it, saying that “for as long as the nation failed to check corruption, tackling insecurity and revamping the economy would remain a mirage.
“In other words, the fight against corruption is pivotal to the success of the other cardinal programmes of the Administration. I want to reiterate that the anti-corruption war is not Buhari’s war, it is Nigeria’s war, hence the need for every citizen to support it.
“Part of the efforts to win the support of Nigerians is to carry them along every inch of the way. Today’s Special Town Hall Meeting on the Fight Against Corruption fits into that effort, as it provides an opportunity for the major stakeholders in the federal government’s battle against corruption to give account of their stewardship, and for Nigerians to have the opportunity to interact with them, ask them questions and also make suggestions. This way, we can all be on the same page as far as this war of survival is concerned,” he stated.