The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has whittled down the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-graft agencies as regards seizure of assets.
The AGF also scrapped all asset recovery and tracing committees.
The directive is contained in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette Vol. 106, No 163, titled, ‘Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulation 2019’, dated October 29, 2019.
The AGF directed in Part 3, Section 5(1) of the gazette that all non-conviction based forfeiture shall be conducted by his office.
He ordered that where a non-conviction based forfeiture procedure arose, the law enforcement agency and anti-corruption agencies should transfer the matter to the office of the AGF.
Section 5 states, “All non-conviction based forfeiture shall be conducted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
It read, “Where a non-conviction based forfeiture procedure arises, the LEA (Law Enforcement Agency) and ACAs (Anti-Corruption Agencies) shall transfer the matter to the Office of the AGF.”
In the past, the EFCC had the power to initiate non-conviction based forfeiture as was done in the case of the EFCC and the wife of a former President, Patience Jonathan.
The new directive, however, implies that only the AGF can pursue such cases.
The gazette further states that all seized assets shall be registered by all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
It holds that all final forfeited assets recovered by agencies shall be handed over to the AGF within 60 days from the commencement of the regulations of management.
The AGF warned that any agency head who failed to follow the new guidelines would be dealt with.
It adds, “… Non–compliance with the regulations of these provisions and the guidelines and directions made pursuant to these regulations shall be considered insubordination and attract liability under the Public Sevice Rules.”
In another gazette with No 162, titled, ‘Guidelines for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Stategy 2017-2021, ‘ the AGF said all programmes regarding anti-corruption must be done with the express approval of his office.
The AGF said all the MDAs must receive permission from his office before on any donor-assisted project.