Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal government, yesterday, 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.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami explained that the initiative was to enhance easy access and coordination of assets recovered by anti-graft agencies.
Malami said the central database would help create a synergy among relevant agencies for the purpose of assets recovery and management as well as build transparency and accountability of assets recovered within and outside Nigeria.
“The central database is a product of our commitment as a government towards the fight against corruption with particular reference to our membership of international organisations inclusive of financial action task force and open government partnerships.
“The database is intended to deepen our transparency and accountability and in so doing, we have established that commitment through inclusion of civil society organizations in our fight against corruption.”
The minister said his office was developing a legislation for the full implementation and operation of the central criminal justice information system in order to ensure compliance.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) said keeping a comprehensive database of recovered assets was a key component of accountability in the fight against corruption.
Owasanoye stressed the need for the database to be digitised and put online to allow all anti-graft agencies and other relevant stakeholders have access to it.
He advised government to remove the management of recovered assets from the anti-graft agencies in order to allow them focus on recovery of the assets as they were not properly equipped to manage recovered assets.
Also speaking, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), DCP Mohammed Umar said a database of recovered assets was necessary in the fight against corruption.
“The initiative will not only ensure the tracking of all assets forfeited to the government but would also ensure that seized assets from different locations are managed in an effective manner to realise income.”
He said the EFCC already maintains a data base which contains detailed information of all assets seized or frozen so it will be easy for the commission to key into the new database.
Also speaking, a UK representative, Mr. Andrew Clowes advised the Federal Government to be transparent in the management of the centre and the recovered assets.
The formal launch of the central database is in line with the asset tracing, recovery and management regulations 2019, and the central criminal justice information system under the national anti-corruption strategy 2017 to 2021.
The Federal Government had 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 Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Malami had 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.