Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Nigeria: Presidency in dilemma over graft agencies to strip EFCC, ICPC, CCB, others of power

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A new law that seeks to limit the prosecutorial and confiscating powers of all operating anti-graft agencies in the country has thrown the Presidency into dilemma, as the government weighs the options of assenting to or vetoing it.

The confusion stems from the fact that since the bill originated from within the administration as an Executive Bill, the knotty issues now staring the government in the face at the point of presidential assent should have been resolved by legal experts before it got to the National Assembly for deliberation and approval. However, Vanguard learned, last night, that there had been a wave of discontent at the Presidency over the propriety of the new bill establishing the “Proceeds of Crime, Recovery and Management Agency”, which seeks to substantially limit the powers of all the anti-crime agencies in the country.

In particular, the new law, which was passed in April this year to satisfy the requirements of Nigeria to belong to the Financial Task Force, seeks to cage the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Similarly, the bill also empowers the Proceeds of Crimes Agency to bring all other anti-graft agencies under its control by deleting many critical provisions in the legislation establishing them. Among the statutes which wings have been clipped by the new commission are NAPTIP, the Evidence Act, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Terrorism Preventing Act, Money Laundering Prohibition Act, Customs and Excise Management Act.

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A top source in one of the affected federal agencies said: “The bill, if signed into law by Mr President will derogate from the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1267, 1373 and other successive resolutions on Targeted Financial Sanctions against Designated Terrorist Persons and Entities. “The implication of the deletion of Section 6(d) of the EFCC Act which gives the EFCC powers to investigate and enforce Terrorism (Prevention) Act as it relates to terrorism financing, is that the commission would, therefore, be unable to implement the said UNSCR. “One of the objectives of the Proceeds of Crime Management Agency, as contained in the bill, is to coordinate and enforce all other laws relating to assets recovery. Vanguard reliably gathered that a top official in the Presidency, who is in support of the assent of the bill by the President, handed the bill on Friday to the affected anti-graft agencies to study and make their observations known on Monday, a development which has raised fundamental questions as to the real motives of the promoters of the new agency and whose interest they represent. “In view of the concerns raised above, we most humbly request you, Mr President, to decline assent to the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2019 as presently constituted.

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