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Senate passes re-amended Proceeds of Crime Bill

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FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF MEDICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, IYIN-EKITI: A LANDMARK ACHIEVEMENT OF SEN. MICHAEL. OPEYEMI BAMIDELE
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
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The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a re-worked version of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, after amending the provision of clause 74.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

The chamber, on 15th March, 2022, while relying on Orders 1(b) and 52(6) rescinded its decision on clause 74 of the bill as passed and re-committed same to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, in his presentation, said after the passage of the Bill, series of reactions trailed its passage with respect to clause 74, which was amended in the course of deliberations.

In the original bill, clause 74 provides that, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the defendant in any proceedings under this Act bears the burden of proving that he is is legitimate owner of the assets suspected to be proceeds of crime or derived from unlawful activity or that the assets is of legitimate origin and is not proceeds of unlawful activity.”
 
The Senate, however, amended the clause during consideration to provide that, “The burden of proof shall be on the investigating agencies and there shall be conviction before the property can be finally seized or forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

The Senate, about two weeks ago, recommitted the Bill to the Joint Committee to engage the relevant Agencies with a view to safeguarding against the alleged abuse, and to report back with its recommendation.

Opeyemi stated that the Joint Committee while engaging with the investigating agencies, was told by the latter that maintaining the original provision of clause 74, as recommended by the former, was in the best interest of the country.

He said the agencies assured the Joint Committee that they would not abuse the powers conferred on them by the provision, as they (agencies) are subject to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as the guiding principles of Chapter IV on Human Rights in the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to the lawmaker, “the provision of the original Bill, which provides that the burden of proof lies on the defendant rather than on the Investigating Agencies, as provided in the amendment clause, is appropriate in line with global best practices and convention.”

He explained that making it mandatory for a criminal conviction to be established before forfeiture and seizure of proceeds of crime or assets derived from unlawful activities is against the general interest of the intendment of the Bill and not in conformity with similar legislations in other jurisdictions.

“Besides, the standard of proof in civil matters is on the balance of probabilities”, he said.

Opeyemi added that maintaining the provision of clause 74 of the Bill, as passed by the Senate would undoubtedly undermine Nigeria’s commitment and obligation to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC), which Nigeria is signatory to and has ratified.

He further observed that the amended clause is inconsistent with the principles of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC), which stipulates that States Parties may consider the possibility of requiring that “an offender demonstrate the lawful origin of alleged proceeds of crime or other property liable to confiscation.”
 
He said that one of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture, provides that “Confiscation and provisional measures should adopt measures similar to those set forth in the Vienna Convention, the Palermo Convention, and the Terrorist Financing Convention, including legislative measures to enable competent authorities to freeze or seize and confiscate assets without prejudicing the rights of bona fide third parties.” 

The lawmaker emphasised that one of the salient intendments of clause 74 was that it ensures the recovery of proceeds of crime with or without conviction.

The report on the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2022, after consideration by the Committee of the Whole, was passed by the upper chamber in plenary.
 

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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