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Senate considers bill to disrupt illicit funding for criminals, terrorists in Nigeria



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…As Abaribe hails Buhari over move to deal with corruption, criminality    


The Senate on Tuesday considered a bill that would disrupt the financial flow and funding of criminal enterprise and terrorist financing in Nigeria through the seizure of assets and monies marked as proceeds of crime.

Titled: Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2021, the piece of legislation is sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).

Leading debate on the bill, Senator Abdullahi said it seeks to provide for a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities.

He explained that its passage and assent into law would harmonize and consolidate the legal provisions on the recovery of proceeds of crime in Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, Nigeria had severally attempted to put in place an appropriate Proceeds of Crime legislation since 2007.

“Efforts to develop a comprehensive bill have been impeded by agency rivalry since 2011.

“The effort to sign the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law in 2019 was delayed as a result of complaints by agencies that claimed that the Bill is intended to take away their powers”, the Senate Leader said.

He noted that, “during the evaluation of Nigeria in 2007 by the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF), they observed in their report that the legal framework for the recovery and management of stolen assets in Nigeria is inadequate and do not comply with international standards.”

Abdullahi lamented that due to lack of centrally managed database on recovered assets, effort to track and maintain the actual number of the seized assets, their location and their value is made difficult.

“There have been reported and verifiable instances over the years that showed that some recovered assets were being misused, stolen or lost.

“Further investigations have shown that some of the agencies opened multiple accounts for the payment of forfeited assets without keeping proper records.

“It was against this background that Mr President constituted the Presidential Audit Committee on Recovery of Assets (PACRA) in 2017.

“Not surprisingly, the committee’s findings re-iterated the need for comprehensive and more innovative approach in the management of recovered assets in a transparent and accountable manner so that these assets would become a source of revenue for the country as is the case in many developing and developed countries of the world”, he said.

The lawmaker recalled that sequel to the submission of the report of PACRA in 2018, the President directed that measures be put in place pending the passing of the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law.

Such measures include the establishment of an Asset Recovery and Management Unit in the Federal Ministry of Justice (ARMU/ FMOJ); the opening of a central asset recovery (final forfeiture) account and a central (interim forfeiture) account in the Central Bank of Nigeria; and Use of recovered assets/funds as a source of revenue in the Appropriation Act of 2018 and in subsequent Appropriation Acts.

He explained further that the Proceed of Crime legislation is considered as one of the vital conditions to secure Nigeria’s full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

According to him, “Nigeria’s application has remained elusive as the agencies argue to retain their powers at the expense of national interest.”

He stressed that the bill has taken into account the issues raised by the LEAs in relation to their continuing engagement in civil recovery without compromising the international applicable standards in United Nations Conventions.

Abdullahi said, when passed by the National Assembly and assented into law by the President, the bill would provide for the seizure of assets from criminal enterprises, including terrorist organizations, and bandits who undertake their operations with funding from individuals within or outside the country.

“A strong asset recovery measure can also disrupt the activities of these criminal organizations and reduce the level of insecurity in the country”, he said.

Contributing, the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for the move to have the Proceeds of Crime bill introduced and passed by the National Assembly.

“It is not very unusual to see me get up here and commend this government for bringing an executive bill that is in the interest of the country.

“But this is one of those bills that I want to commend the APC government for taking a step in the right direction, so that we can deal comprehensively with the matter of corruption in Nigeria”, the Minority Leader said.

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, on his part said having such an innovative law that would discourage criminals from engaging in crime for the purpose of financial profits.

The bill after scaling second reading, was referred by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on a Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to report back in two weeks.

Meanwhile, two other bills scaled second reading during plenary on Tuesday.

They are: The National Payment System Bill; and A bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture Mpu, Enugu State.

Both bills are sponsored by Senators Sadiq Suleiman Usman (APC, Kwara North); and Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West).

The bills after consideration were referred by the Senate President to the Committees on Banking, Finance and other Financial Institutions; and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work.

The Committee were given two weeks to report back to the upper chamber.

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Defence and Security

El-Rufai Raises Alarm Over Presence Of Boko Haram, ISWAP In Kaduna



Kaduna state Governor Nasir El Rufai
Kaduna state Governor Nasir El Rufai


The Kaduna State Government has raised an alarm about the activities of terrorist groups in the State.

Speaking during the presentation of the first quarter security report for 2022 to the state’s security council, Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said members of the Ansaru and Boko Haram terrorists groups have infiltrated some parts of Birnin Gwari and Giwa local government areas.

Aruwan said the terrorists have been luring locals with gifts with a view to recruiting them into the criminal organisations.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai expressed concern that the terrorists are moving from the North-East to the North-West with the intention of causing havoc.

He added that those who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna bound train were Boko Haram terrorists.

The Governor is also worried that the conduct of the 2023 general elections might be compromised in Kaduna state if the security challenges are not addressed.

Meanwhile, Aruwan said no fewer than 360 people have been killed by suspected terorrists in different parts of Kaduna State from January to April.

Kaduna central senatorial zone recorded the highest casualties with 214 deaths, the Commissioner said.

Aruwan further noted that 1,389 people were kidnapped by bandits in different attacks across Kaduna State during the period under review, including the 62 victims of the March 28 attack on a Abuja-Kaduna train.

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Defence and Security

Zamfara Govt Dethrones Two Emirs, District Head Accused Of Aiding Banditry



Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle


The Zamfara State government has dethroned two emirs and a district head over allegations of aiding the activities of bandits terrorising communities in the state.

Those affected by the government’s decision include the Emir of Zurmi, Abubakar Atiku, Emir of Dansadau, Hussaini Umar, as well as Sulaiman Ibrahim who used to be the District Head of Birnin Tsaba.

Mr Ibrahim Dosara, who is the Commissioner for Information in Zamfara, made the announcement on Wednesday while briefing reporters at the end of the State Executive Council meeting in Gusau, the state capital.

“The council has approved the deposition of Emir of Zurmi, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and that of Dansadau, Alhaji Hussaini Umar,” he declared.

“The council also approved the immediate removal of the District Head of Birnin-Tsaba, Alhaji Sulaiman Ibrahim.”

According to the commissioner, the government has also ordered that all land titles issued by the affected traditional leaders be revoked.

“The State Executive Council has also directed the state Ministry of Justice to issue an executive order to back up the council resolution,” he added.

The deposition of the traditional leaders comes 10 months after they were suspended by the state government.

It also comes days after the submission of the reports of the committees set up by the state government to investigate the allegations against the affected traditional rulers.

“The council upheld the recommendation of a six-man white paper committee set up by the government to review the report of two separate committees earlier set up to investigate the involvement of the three traditional rulers in the activities of banditry in the state,” said a statement by Governor Bello Matawalle’s media aide, Zailani Bappa.

“The three impeached royal fathers were earlier suspended by the state government following wide allegations of serious involvement in the act of banditry in the state.

“The findings of the committees also revealed abuse of the Land Act in their domain and the government ordered the reversal to status quo involving the lands illegally allocated.”

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Defence and Security

Senate Passes Amended Terrorism Act, Criminalises Payment Of Kidnap Ransom



Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele


The Senate has prohibited the payment of ransoms to kidnappers in its bid to complement the Federal Government’s effort to tackle the disturbing spate of insecurity in the country.

Payment of kidnap ransom was criminalised by the lawmakers during Wednesday’s plenary in Abuja as they passed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

The prohibition by the lawmakers followed the receipt and consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters on the bill.

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, who chairs the committee, had moved that the lawmakers receive the report after which he presented it for consideration.

Thereafter, the lawmakers resolved into the committee of the whole to consider the report, clause by clause, and reverted to plenary to report progress.

This led to the reading of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 (Amendment) Bill, 2022 for the third time and its subsequent passage.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, congratulated his colleagues on the passage of the bill which he said was very important.

“It is believed here in the Senate that this bill, by the time it is signed into Act by Mr President, will enhance the efforts of this government in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping, and other associated vices,” he said.

“This is one piece of legislation that can turn around not only the security issues of Nigeria but even the economy of the country.

I believe that the Executive will waste no time in signing this bill into law and it is our hope that this additional piece of legislation will achieve the purpose for which it has been worked upon.”

According to Lawan, the fight against insecurity is not the sole purpose of a government and the contributions and support of the citizens are essential.

He explained that this was because the security agencies need critical information to tackle terrorism, kidnapping, and other threats to the nation’s security.

The Senate President stated that the security agencies were trying their best but needed to do more and achieve better results.

“With this, once again, I want to congratulate the Senate for this very important piece of legislation,” he concluded.

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