The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), an anti-corruption group in Nigeria, has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to obey subsisting court order mandating him to scrap the Asset Tracing and Management Regulations he put in place.
The regulation was put in place in 2019 to checkmate anti-graft agencies in the management of recovered assets and proceeds of crime.
However, a few months ago, a federal high court declared the regulation null and void.
HEDA said recent judgment of a federal high court confirms public fears that the regulation will not promote transparency in Nigeria.
The group in a statement by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, asked the minister to abide by the order of the court to set aside the regulation, adding that the rule undermines optimum performance of key anti-corruption institutions, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission.
Suraju said, “We make bold to state that these regulation trespasses into the scope of powers vested in the National Assembly and amounts to disregarding the supremacy of the ground norm.
“The powers as stated in the Commencement Clause of the Regulations cannot override the powers vested in the LEAs and ACAs being Acts of the National Assembly.”
Suraju stated that the Assets Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 is merely a duplicity of laws and adds no solution, harmony or progress but further rigidity and dilemma to the implementation of the functions of the LEAs and the ACAs by prescribing sanctions for non-compliance as seen in Section 14 of the Assets Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019.
He also said that the order was to aid tracing and attachment of assets and proceeds of crime, the seizure and disposal of assets and proceeds of crime, and the recovery of stolen assets but that abundant evidence showed that the motive has been defeated through parochial political manipulations, adding that the EFCC and ICPC had enough laws to deal with the issues raised in the new regulation.
Suraju said, “We hold the stance with respect to the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 that it is overbearing and outreaching and will most certainly result in clashes between the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the powers reposed in the LEAs and the ACAs.”
He cited Section 30, 31 (1-3) of the EFCC Act, which makes for the procedure for the proper disposal of the seized assets particularly Section 31 (2), which provides that upon receipt of the final order, the secretary of the commission shall take steps to dispose of the property concerned by sale or otherwise and where the property is sold, the proceeds thereof shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
He refers also to Section 37, 38 and 45 of the ICPC Act provides gives the chairman and officers of the commission the powers to seize assets.
He observed that Section 35 -37 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law and Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 states that whereupon the receipt of a final order, a person is convicted the Director-General shall take steps to dispose of the property and that the proceeds shall be paid into the Victims of Trafficking Trust Fund.
In delivering the judgment, the Judge had said, “In my view, these provisions are clear as to the powers of the applicant, the EFCC to commence this action. Consequently, I consider and hold that paragraph 5 of the assets tracing and management regulations 2019 are good for being inconsistent with Section 17 (1) of the advance fee fraud and other fraud related offences.”
The judge said relying on the asset tracing recovery and management regulations 2019 was wrong.
He submits that the EFCC was a distinct office from that of the Attorney-General of the Federation and that the action was therefore predicated on a faulty pedestal.
SaharaReporters had also published how Malami was secretly sponsoring a bill before the National Assembly as part of moves to take over some of the duties of the EFCC.
The bill tagged “An Act To Repeal The Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 (Act No. 1 Of 2004) And Enact Economic And Financial Crimes Agency Act” if passed into law will allow the office of the AGF to interfere with the anti-graft agency’s investigations.