OrderPaperToday – The Proceeds and Crime bill is about one of the contentious bills rejected and brought back to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari. Though no explanation was given for the refusal to assent the bill as was the usual practice by the President.
The bill seek to establish the Proceeds of Crimes Recovery and Management Agency (POCA), which shall partially usurp the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and six other agencies on the seizure of assets or invoke the forfeiture clause.
The proposed bill seeks to make provisions for the “management of proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities, harmonizes and consolidates existing legislative provisions for the disposal of seized, confiscated and forfeited property derived from unlawful activities and any instrumentalities or intended to be used in the commission of unlawful activities.”
According to Clause 2 of the bill: “assets and the proceeds and instrumentalities of unlawful activity seized or recovered by Nigerian law enforcement agencies pursuant to interim or final forfeiture orders of Court.
“Orders and directives by the Court to support the preservation, management or disposal of the proceeds and instrumentalities of unlawful activity and realizable assets by law enforcement agencies and the Management of recovered properties by the Agency established under this Act.”
In the bid to ensure effective implementation of the Agency, a Part Time Governing Board drawn from 14 MDAs, financial regualtory and security agencies, is to be constituted.
They are: Federal Ministries of Justice, Finance, Department of State Services; Accountant General of the Federation; Central Bank of Nigeria; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit; National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency; Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission; Code of Conduct Commission; National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons; Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria; Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The legislative framework also provides for inclusion of three other members with cognate experience in Estate Survey and valuation, banking and finance as well as representative of Civil Society.
It would be recalled that the bill was first sponsored by a former chairman of the House of Representatives on Financial Crimes, Mr. Kayode Oladele from Ogun State and presented on the floor of the green chamber in December, 2016.
The bill had a 12-part legislation with provisions for the confiscation, forfeiture and management of property derived from unlawful activities.
Information available to OrderPaper Nigeria revealed that agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practises and other related offences Commission, (ICPC), the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), amongst others were all against the bill because it takes away all its responsibilities as regards management of all confiscated properties.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives before embarking on recess felt the need to resurrect the bill but this time introduced it as the Proceeds of Crime Management Agency (PCMA) Bill which has already passed through third reading and sent to the senate as gathered from the bills office of the national assembly.
The bill was brought by Mr. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) and backed by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila as reliably gathered.
According to our source, he wants the House to take a second look at the bill because of his stance against corruption in the country and believes has been well captured in the bill.
However, the initial confusion was if the PCMA should be a stand-alone agency with its own operational laws and funding which could have been the basis for President Muhammadu Buhari not assenting to the Proceeds of Crime law.
Nonetheless, the new PCMA Bill provides an institutional framework for the management of proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities.
It also harmonises and consolidates existing legislative provisions on the management of the Proceeds of crime in Nigeria.
The bill intends to manage over 2000 (two thousand seized landed. property apart from ships, yachts, the several cars in various car-dumps across the country and even abroad.
In view of the concerns, Mr. Umar El-Yacub, Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Reps), who spoke to OrderPaper Nigeria via a telephone interview assured that the President was willing to sign the bill if represented due to it importance in the fight against corruption.
He however stressed that” “the President Buhari is not under obligation to send formal communication to the 9th Assembly since it was passed by the preceding Assembly”.
Mr. El-Yakub maintained that the Constitution did not compel Mr President to communicate information on the assented bills to the principal officers of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Recall that the Proceed of crime bill was passed in the House of Representatives in 2018 though it was amongst the other 17 bills rejected and returned by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.