The Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday at the Federal Executive Council meeting approved the establishment of an agency to be known as ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, (PCRMA)’
The agency when come into being would be responsible for managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
To this effect, the FG has given a nod for the bill titled: “Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,” to be transmitted to the National Assembly as an executive bill.
Speaking with the state House correspondents, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said managing proceeds of crime would be that of an agency with administrative structure that lies with the onus of accountability.
Malami said the establishment of the agency would see to the effective documentation and management of the recovered assets for purposes transparency and accountability.
The Attorney General disclosed that he sent a memo to FEC as a matter of necessity, for the establishment of the agency, saying that, previously, proceeds of crime were scattered in different and multiple agencies.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Justice presented to Council a memo today (Wednesday). The memo is about a Bill which seeks the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage. It is the 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 (Department of State Service), EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), and ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission).
“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-hand 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 overweigh of a final forfeiture.
“So, it is indeed over time a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.”
“If you have a budget item for recovered assets, this agency will now be in a position to provide information to the federal ministry of finance, budget and National Planning on-demand as to what amount is there available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now.
He further explained that the new law seeks to move the fight against corruption to the next level.
“A one-stop-shop arrangement by which all the assets that are recovered arising from crimes that are indeed vested in the federal government, you have a one-stop arrangement where you can have information.
“As it is for example the federal ministry of Justice is only in a position to account and giving a comprehensive account of what recoveries were made by the ministry.
“But any recovery made by the police, DSS, the ministry of justice is not in a position to know. So, for the purpose of decision making and policy, the FG is not in a position to have a holistic appreciation.
“So, by the bill that is now presented for the consideration of the council, we’ll have (1) a law that establishes an agency, (2) an agency. And for your information, even for the purpose of planning what we will have at the end of the day if this bill is passed into law, is we’ll have an agency that will be responsible.
“And as you rightly know, Mr. President has sanctioned ever since he came on board, that there should be a budget line, a budget item for recovered assets.
“So, if you have a budget item for recovered assets, this agency will now be in a position to provide information to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on-demand as to what amount is available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now.
“So, it is about a memo that seeks to establish a legal framework, that seeks to establish an institutional framework, that seeks to further take the fight against corruption to the next level by way of establishing transparency, accountability and making the possibility of forfeiture proceeds of crime easy through the sanctioning of non-conviction based forfeiture among others.”
Asked if the bill was a fall out of the experience with the EFCC with particular reference to the management of assets, Malami said: “Let me take you through the history lane as far as the proceeds of crime bill are concerned. There was an attempt some time back in 2007 to present to the FEC, it was unsuccessful, the bill was not passed.
“There was further attempt in 2011 to present the same bill with some material amendments, and then it did not succeed in getting the blessings of FEC. And there was a further attempt in 2019 to present the Bill and it wasn’t as well successful but it eventually succeeded today.
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