The federal government has been urged to put in place legislation to prevent impunity and mismanagement of seized assets by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to a journalist, John Chuks Azu, while reacting to EFCC’s alleged conversion of seized assets or properties under interim forfeiture to accommodation and transit camps as made public during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), in Abuja, the regulatory framework for assets management will clearly define how recovered assets will be managed.
Lamenting that the lack of legislation breeds impunity, he said delay in Nigeria’s judicial system and process in quickly concluding on cases contributes negatively.
Azu noted that the use of forfeited property by EFCC staff and other security agencies remains a clear breach of due process, while disclosing that he was more worried that these seized property are decaying and rotting away with time which is the more reason proceeds of crime forfeiture management bill should be speedily passed.
He said: “We must keep our eyes on the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Bill which is before the National Assembly submitted by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. Now that bill seeks to build a whole new regulation into management of interim or permanently forfeited assets.
“We have a challenge in not being able to distinguish between making good use of a property without having to waste resources.
“A company suspected of benefitting from proceeds of crime ought not to be completely stopped from operations. While investigation is going on, you can still continue to run it, the staff would continue to earn their living pending when the outcome is reached otherwise.”
He maintained that the passage of the bill and the creation of an agency to manage it will certainly curb impunity and enhance accountability and transparency in the management of recovered assets in Nigeria.
“Assuming you are an EFCC official, recovers money from a suspect, as soon as you are coming out you have recorded the money in your diary, and you are handing it over straight to the agency responsible for the management of proceeds of crime. So the issue of looting recovered assets will not come up, whether you are the boss of EFCC or an EFCC investigator,” Azu stressed.
On their own, two other journalists, Lami Sadiq and Idowu Isamota, alluded that seized property they visited during the investigation were decaying, while calling for urgent attention to be given to assets forfeiture law.
They revealed that the investigations were carried out in EFCC’s zonal offices; Enugu, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna.
In November 2020, the Attorney general of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had inaugurated the inter-Ministerial Committee on the Disposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Forfeited Assets following President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to sell off forfeited assets in 6 months.