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The chamber, on 15th March, 2022, while relying on Orders 1(b) and 52(6) rescinded its decision on clause 74 of the bill as passed and re-committed same to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Anti-Corruption and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.
SANWO-OLU URGES RESIDENTS TO STAY CALM OVER CASH SCARCITY
The Lagos State Government has observed the tension caused by the slow release of cash through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and within banking halls.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu today joined a delegation that met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja to deliberate on measures to remove the hardship caused by the scarcity of the new currency.
In a statement signed by the Hon. Commissioner for information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, Mr. Sanwo-Olu urges residents to remain calm as the government is doing everything possible to normalise the situation. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to put measures in place to ensure residents have access to currency notes released to banks.
Buhari inaugurates new MOFI Board
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of N18 trillion to at least N100 trillion in the next 10 years.
The president gave the charge at the launch of the new MOFI and inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Directors of the body shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting.
The president also tasked the new board to “be the clearing house for the management of Federal Government’s investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”
He also called on the new MOFI to work with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to create a consolidated national assets register with a view to converting them into cash-flow-generating entities.
This, he said, would support the government’s revenue drive.
Buhari urged members of the board to work with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.
He, therefore, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to further institutionalize this reform.
According to him, the amendments when carried out, would ensure that MOFI was restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government’s investments and assets.
Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI would help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.
According to the president, the MOFI Act of 1959, now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004, explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government in its own name.
He said that MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years, adding that MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning thanked Buhari for his support and approvals that had made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible.
According to the minister, the council members and board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.
The governing council is chaired by the President, with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, as Vice Chair.
It’s members include: The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo.
Others are: Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Godwin Emefiele and three experts appointed by the President, namely: Prof. Muhammad Sagagi, Dr Ayo Teriba and Prof. Ken Ife.
The board members include: Former Finance Minister, Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources and acting Accountant-General of the Federation.
Others are; Olawale Edun, Fatima Mede, Ike Chioke, Muhammad Nda, Alheri Nyako and an executive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are also members of the board
Members of the Executive Management Team are: Dr Armstrong Takang, Managing Director, Eric solo, Executive Director, Chief Portfolio Officer, Sani Yakubu Chief Investment Officer and Oluwakemi Owonubi, Chief Risk Officer.
Polls: NBC warns broadcasters against compromising national unity
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has cautioned all broadcasters against compromising national unity while covering forthcoming general election.
The Director-General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Ilelah issued the warning in a statement, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said: ”The National Broadcasting Commission wish to again, remind all broadcasters covering the forthcoming general elections to take note of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, and other relevant regulations guiding the broadcast of elections in Nigeria.
”The commission has observed, with deep concerns, how ethics and ethos have been thrown to the winds by politicians using broadcast media platforms.
”This is against the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which provides that in using materials for news and current affairs programmes, the broadcaster shall avoid hate speech, inflammatory, derogatory and divisive remarks or allusions.
”The commission notes that some station now glamorise these situations on their platforms. The NBC reiterates that such stations shall pay for their professional misdemeanor.”
Ilelah said for the avoidance of doubt, broadcasters were advised to note the sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides that the broadcaster shall promote human dignity.
He added: “Therefore, hate speech is prohibited. Section 3.11.1 (a) states that all broadcasters should ensure that language or a scene likely to encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast.
“Also, section 3.11.1 (b) advice broadcaster to ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
“Similarly, section 5.4.1 (f) prohibit broadcasters from transmitting divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.”
Ilelah said that section 5.3.3 (g) urged broadcasters to ensure that a political broadcast was clearly identified as such, and not presented in a manner that would mislead the audience to believe that the programme was of any other type.
“Also, section 5.3.3 (j) enjoin broadcasters to ensure that the broadcast of a partisan political campaign, jingle, announcement and any form of partisan political party identification or symbol ends not later than 24 hours before polling day.
“The NBC ACT CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, also prescribes, in the Third Schedule 12(6) that “A Licensee shall be responsible for the content of the Station’s Broadcast.
”The commission enjoins all broadcasters to desist from using or allowing their platforms and facilities to be used by politicians, their supporters and or sympathisers, for the broadcast of contents that may lead to the breakdown of law and order,” Ilelah
He said that broadcasters were therefore expected to perform the role of peace agents by adhering to the principles of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.
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