The Proceeds of Crime Bill designed to further boost Nigeria’s anti-corruption drive has been transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by the National Assembly for assent.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, Hon. Kayode Oladele, who made this known Tuesday during a chat with journalists, said the bill was transmitted on Monday.

The Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2017, is a 12-part bill with comprehensive provisions for the confiscation, forfeiture and management of property derived from unlawful activities.

Expressing optimism that if passed into law, the bill will strengthen Nigeria’s quest to eradicate corruption, Oladele said: “This important Bill, among other things, seeks to provide a legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities as well as harmonise and consolidate existing legislations on the recovery of proceeds of crime and related matters in the country.

“Even though we have in existence extant laws such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, 2004, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2003, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, Recovery of Public Property Act (Special Provisions) Act, Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act and some other penal laws on asset recovery in the country, there is no legal and institutional framework in place to handle civil forfeiture.

“The absence of civil forfeiture law in the country makes mockery of the fight against corruption, as criminals in the country are not deterred because of the realisation that they will not be denied the benefit of their loot, whether they are caught or not. This proposed legislation, is targeted at addressing this obvious lacuna in our law.”

He is hopeful that if passed, the bill will among other things, reverse the ugly trend associated with non-recovery of looted funds, consolidate the legal framework regarding forfeiture in the country and ensure the confiscation and civil recovery of proceeds of crime as well as facilitate the repatriation of stolen funds from abroad.

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