Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal government on Thursday launched the Central Database on recovered asset and the Central Criminal Justice Information System to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of recoveries of proceed of crimes.
The scheme which is under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy is also aimed at assisting in the fight against corruption.
Performing the ceremony, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minsiter of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the exercise is “a product of our commitments, as a Government towards the fight against corruption with particular reference to our membership of international organisations inclusive of financial action Task Force, open Government Partnership targeted at deepening transparency within this context of United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”
Malami disclosed that the “Database that will be put in place will ensure uniformity of process and real time access and information feeding.
“It is to deepen our transparency and accountability. We have established that committement through inclusion of civil society organizations, in our fight against corruption, enrolled as members of Open Government Partnership, Establish Legal Framework that establish Anti-Corruption Agencies and we are now committed in deploying technology to deepen our transparency; that is what the Central Database we are launching here today is all about.
The AGF said “this present administration has yet, set another pace and I extend my gratitude to His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the opportunity to serve under his cabinet to achieve this milestone.
“We will, working together, establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in Governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership.
He disclosed that “the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS in order to ensure compliance.
Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Justice looks forward working with the Judiciary at all levels, and Anti-Corruption Institution at both the States and Federal levels and the Nigerian Police in order to run the information center real time.
Speaking earlier, at the event which was attended by heads of the various anti-corruption agencies, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata (SAN) highlighted the objectives of the Central Database for recovered assets.
Apata explained that “following the issuance of the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations on October 29, 2019, by the AGF, the need to put in place a centralized database for the storage of records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria as contained in Section 3 of the ATRM Regulations, 2019 became obligatory for Nigeria.”
Some of the objectives of the database according to the Solicitor General of the Federation include ” centralized asset depository for easy coordination for all stakeholders with regards to asset management: provide timely access on all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria; Assist in the collection and collation of data for statistical analysis on assets recovered by Nigeria.
Others are “Adequate record keeping to confirm the status of assets whether interim, seized or final forfeiture; prevents the re-looting of recovered assets as is often the case in the past; assist citizens, civil society organizations and Journalists as well as general public to monitoring recovered assets and disposal of the assets.”
The federal government on Wednesday approved a new bill, Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill, for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
Speaking at the end of the Federal Excutive Council (FEC) meeting, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the bill, which was first conceived in 2007, was rejected several times by FEC of successive administrations, including the current cabinet before it was eventually approved yesterday.
He said the objective of the bill is to secure a legal and institutional framework that will assist in harnessing proceeds of crimes that are currently scattered across several government agencies and bring them into one agency.
According to Malami, the pursuit of a legal framework for recovered assets have become a necessity because there is hitherto no agency of government saddled with the responsibility of providing data on landed assets, immobile assets as well as the value of cash recovered by government agencies.