Are Nigerians never going to know where all the recovered assets are unless a special agency responsible for public asset management is created? Why is it difficult for this government to track all the collector agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC, Nigeria Police, DSS, NSCDC, etc?

It is not surprising at all that the public asked questions regarding public assets that were frittered away by suspected looters under previous administrations but were reportedly recovered by the present government since 2015 never dies: Where are the recovered assets?

This is particularly so because the government of the day hyped its anti-corruption exploits with the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on revivers of public assets. Several big names were paraded as suspected corrupt former public officers. There were special media headlines celebrating the Federal Government’s gang stride regarding the repatriation of the famed Abacha loot. But that is where the news ends.

The controversy surrounding the management of recovered public assets has dented the image of this government and will continue to clog its frantic efforts at fighting corruption, one of its focal points.

We recall that in September this year, a bill titled “Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill” was being sponsored by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) with a view to addressing the knotty issue.

We acknowledge the fact that the initiative is commendable in the sense that Nigerians have continued to see incoherent records of public assets, totally lacking in transparency and proper accountability. As a matter of fact, the public space has been inundated with stories of looting of already recovered assets!

The objective of this bill, according to Mr. Malami, is to address the current situation whereby recovered public loots are being handled by different government agencies without a central or properly coordinated, comprehensive information and management procedure. This is one of the problems that largely contributed to the friction between the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and the AGF that eventually led to the former being suspended and his tenure currently under probe by a presidential panel.

Mr. Malami was quoted as saying that,  “The bill is targeted and intended to have in place legal and institutional framework.  The legal component of it is having a law while the institutional component of it is to have an agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute proceeds of crime in Nigeria.

“What happens before now is that proceeds of crime are scattered all over,  and mostly in the hands of different and multiple agencies of government inclusive of the police, the DSS (Department of State Services), the EFCC  (The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) and the ICPC  (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission).

“So, with that kind of arrangement which is ad hoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you offhand the number of landed assets, immovable assets, the amount in cash that is recovered by the Federal Government by way of interim forfeiture or final forfeiture. So, it is indeed over time a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent”, he stated.

Perhaps, the next big questions are: Are Nigerians never going to know where all the recovered assets are unless a special agency responsible for public asset management is created? Why is it difficult for this government to track all the collector agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC, Nigeria Police, DSS, NSCDC, etc?

 


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