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Senate Passes Bill Empowering FG to Seize Illegally-Acquired Assets

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he Senate has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to allow the Federal Government to seize assets acquired by corrupt public officers, terrorism financiers, among others.

The legislation is titled, ‘A bill for an Act to Make Comprehensive Provisions For Seizure, Confiscation, Forfeiture and Management of Properties Reasonably Suspected to Have Been Derived From Unlawful Activities.’

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Suleiman Kwari, in his lead debate, said the proposal passed first reading on March 16, 2021, and was also listed among the versions of bills of interest contained in the recent communication from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to the National Assembly.

Buhari had last week appealed to the parliament to pass three anti-corruption bills on proceeds of crime, whistle-blower and witness protection.

The Senate had on Tuesday passed the Witness Protection Bill for second reading.

Kwari said the main objective of the bill was to provide for the establishment of a department in the relevant organisations to manage forfeited assets.

According to him, the department would provide for an effective legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of the proceeds of crime, as well as civil forfeitures in non-conviction based sentencing.

He said, “This bill further makes provisions for restraint, seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of property derived from property unlawful activities; any instrumentality used or intended to be used in the commission of such unlawful activities; and for non-conviction based procedure for the recovery of proceeds of crime.

“The bill’s other objectives are to strengthen the criminal confiscation procedure by ensuring that the total benefit from a person’s criminal activity is calculated and an equivalent amount, where recoverable, is confiscated on behalf of the Federal Government.

In his submission, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stated that it had become expedient for government to go after anyone who cannot account for how they acquired their properties.

“In supporting this bill, Mr. President, I hold the view that the people who have acquired their properties legally and with good funds have no cause to fear,” he said.

The Deputy Majority Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi said, “I think it is our duty to support such a law, but it must not be done in a manner that at the end of the day, when you have somebody that does not mean well, you have given him a weapon to go after his perceived enemies. I think that is where caution has to come in.”

Senator Stella Oduah, who is under the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, however, kicked against the bill.

Oduah said, “For very brilliant senators such as us, we cannot be seen to pass a bill which we haven’t thought through and that is not in line with best global practice. We shouldn’t play ostrich with this bill. We are going to create a situation where conflict of interest within establishments will continue to exist. Subjectivity in handling issues will be the subject of the day, and innocent Nigerians will be made to be victims of this law, and laws are not supposed to be like that.

“Laws are supposed to stand the test of time. This bill will not stand the test of time because it will be very subjective.”

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, after the second reading, referred the bill to the Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The joint committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate in plenary.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to broaden the functions of the Public Complaints Commission also scaled second reading on Wednesday.

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UN Deputy Sec Gen Condemns Gruesome Killing of Deborah, Demands Justice

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Amina Muhammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, has called for justice following the killing of Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto over blasphemy.

Muhammed spoke out via her official Twitter page on Tuesday, stating that religions should not be “misinterpreted to preach violence”.

“Justice must be done for the senseless, brutal killing of the young Deborah Yakubu in Nigeria. Religions should not be misinterpreted to preach violence when they promote peace.

“My prayers are with the family and for the repose of her soul,” she tweeted.

Yakubu, a second-year student of the Sheu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was lynched on the school premises on Thursday after classmates accused her of blasphemy.

On Monday, the Sokoto Police Command arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in the state, for their alleged participation in the crime.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges while the defence counsel, Prof. Mansur Ibrahim, applied for their bail on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

The trial judge reserved the ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at a correctional centre.

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AfDB’s Adesina Not Contesting for Presidency – Report

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The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, will not be contesting the Presidency of Nigeria.

A support group had purchased and submitted the N100m Presidential form of the All Progressives Congress for the top banker last week.

Some had also reported that Adesina visited Mamman Daura, the influential nephew of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) last week to seek his support.

But The PUNCH confirmed that Adesina will not be taking part in the Presidential screening of the APC slated for May 23.

Adesina’s office is expected to issue a statement in a few hours distancing himself from Nigeria’s partisan politics.

The AfDB regulations bar its President from partisan politics.

Specifically, Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the agreement establishing AfDB, titled ‘Prohibition of Political Activity; the International Character of the Bank’, states that “The Bank, its President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member (country); nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member (country) concerned.”

Paragraph 3 of the article states that “The President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff of the Bank, in discharge of their offices, owe their duty entirely to the Bank and to no other authority.”

Similarly, the AfDB code of conduct bars its executive from partisan politics. Section 10 of the Code reads: “Although Executive Directors are elected representatives of governments from their constituencies, they shall during their tenure of office as executive directors refrain from participating in active politics in their home countries or elsewhere.”

Should Adesina seek to run for the office of President of Nigeria, he would need to resign his current position permanently, a risk it was learnt the top banker was not willing to take.

There are at least 25 other aspirants running for President on the platform of the APC.

Some of them include APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; oil mogul, Tein Jack-Rich; Senator Ajayi Boroffice; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and many others.

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N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds, according to a report by PREMIUM TIMES.

According to the report, Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Sources said the EFCC has for sometime now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which was allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

The sources further said that after progress was made in the investigation, Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honour the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice than to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

However, a top EFCC confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr Idris accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

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