OrderPaperToday – The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has dragged the minister of justice and attorney general of the federation to court over alleged arbitrary powers in assets tracing.

The anti-corruption said the powers undermines the effective performance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, (ICPC) and other law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

HEDA’s lawyer, Omotayo Olatubosun, wants the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to determine whether Regulations 3(a) and 3(b) of the Asset Tracing and Regulation is not in conflict with Section 1 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act No.1 of 2004 on the coordination of various institutions involved in the fight against money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.

HEDA seeks an order of the court to nullify the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 as it violates extant provisions of the ICPC and the EFCC.

The Asset Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 took effect on November 1, 2019 and empowers the federal government to determine procedures that anti-corruption agencies must adopt to manage recovered assets and to receive from states or local governments 30 percent of the proceeds of recovered assets belonging to either of the two parties.

The supporting affidavit signed by HEDA’s Programme Manager, Mr. Sina Odugbemi, drew attention to the fact that certain sections of the regulation contradicts the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), the Immigration Act and the law on Traffic in Human Persons extant laws including but not limited to Sections 45(2), 49(1) and (2), Section 57(2) and (3) of Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act No. 4, 2015, section 38(2) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap. N30, LFN, 2004 and Section 91(2) and (3) of the Immigration Act (No. 8 of 2015).

HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju argued that “the Asset Tracing regulation unnecessarily empowers the Minister of Justice almost to the point of putting chains in the hands of the ICPC and the EFCC. This is not good for the level of independence the anti-graft agencies deserve.”

He further revealed that it was the imperative to strengthen the capacity of the EFCC and the ICPC to prosecute their statutory functions, free from any external influence and manipulation that necessitated the legal action.

Remember HEDA was part of the International anti-corruption coalition that demanded for the release of the panel report on Magu’s probe.

 

Reporting by Chinonso Kenneth

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