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19 October 2020
On 16 September 2020 news broke of the federal government's intention to establish yet another anti-corruption agency, separate from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – established in 2003 – and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – established in 2000. The proposed name of the newest agency is the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency. The bill for its establishment has been approved to be transmitted to the National Assembly.
As stated by the minister of justice and attorney general, the new agency's objective is to better manage the properties and proceeds of crime forfeited to the federal government. This appears to be laudable because it is common knowledge in Nigeria that these assets are scattered across the country in the hands of different agencies and commissions at both the state and federal level, and there should be a uniform accounting system for these properties which are left without maintenance.
A Proceeds of Crime Bill was introduced in the National Assembly in 2017 and passed in 2019. However, President Buhari did not assent to the bill and it appears to have died on the vine as his first term ended on 28 May 2019. Given that the bill's primary purpose was the creation of a Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, the bulk of whose functions are presently supposed to be carried out by either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, the president's decision not to assent to the bill appears to have been somewhat rational.
Now that the creation of such an agency is once more being proposed, observers would be forgiven for being unable to discern any clear policy behind the announced development.
Given the ongoing accounting and management controversies surrounding assets which have reportedly been recovered by the existing agencies, there is reason to view this announcement with a degree of suspicion. If there is one thing that Nigeria does not need, it is another bureaucratic organ dealing with these matters. Efforts to improve the existing agencies' performance with regard to the management of these assets would arguably be a better use of government resources than the creation of a new agency and the new layer of bureaucracy that would inevitably accompany it.
For further information on this topic please contact Olamide Aleshinloye at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.
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