…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.
ARMY’S DEDICATION HAS RAISED CITIZENS’ CONFIDENCE’ — SANWO-OLU TELLS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF
•COAS in Lagos to launch new security operations
•Governor seeks military cooperation on traffic, environmental enforcements
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has hailed the Nigerian Army for committing to the rules of engagement and professionalism in its peace mission across the country.
The Governor said the Army had continued to live up to the expectations of their roles as provided by the constitution, stressing that the sacrifice paid by soldiers to keep the territorial integrity and peace of the country would not go unappreciated.
Sanwo-Olu spoke when he received the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, at Lagos House in Marina, on Monday, in a courtesy visit.
Lagbaja was in Lagos for the clearance of Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) at the 9 Brigade Military Cantonment, Ikeja.
The Army, the Governor said, has earned the citizens’ confidence and respect as a member of the nation’s armed forces, given its sense of commitment, dedication and patriotism.
Sanwo-Olu said: “We are grateful to the Army and its men for their dedication to the country at this difficult time in different parts of the country. You have continued to uphold the constitution, maintain high integrity and stick to the best rules of engagement to protect the sovereignty of our country.
The Army is well respected by the citizens, given the commitment, dedication and sense of patriotism in discharging its statutory roles.
“The 2002 Ikeja bomb explosion was a trying moment for the Army, given the magnitude of the damage. But the event never weakened the resolve of the military. The Army has continued to live up to their responsibilities provided by the constitution and the sacrifice paid by soldiers to keep the territorial integrity and peace of our country would not go unappreciated. Lagos State Government is committed to ensuring that the Army gets all the necessary support for your security operations.”
The Governor assured the Army boss that the State Government would rebuild a military primary school in Orile demolished for the construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway. He sought for the cooperation of the military personnel in restoring sanity back to the Lagos-Badagry corridor, where the State Government has been clearing illegal shanties built along the expressway.
Sanwo-Olu also appealed for cooperation among military personnel in the ongoing enforcement across Lagos, including Okada ban enforcement. He noted that the ongoing enforcements were geared towards bringing sanity back to the State and preserving public assets.
The Governor said: “We have collective responsibility to keep Lagos safe for commercial activities. It is important to acknowledge the complementary effort of the 9 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in supporting our security architecture in Lagos, with OP Mesa operatives working with the police to ensure our safety.
That synergy among all security agencies is all that is required to maintain security.”
Lagbaja used the occasion to express his appreciation for the “tremendous support” the people and State Government accorded to the Army units and formations.
The Army boss acknowledged the infrastructure renewal programme of the Lagos Government, stressing that improved infrastructure would go a long way in helping the military respond rapidly to security situations requiring quick interventions.
He said military personnel will be major beneficiaries of the Lagos’ Blue and Red Line rail projects, as the trains would aid personnel’s commuting.
Lagbaja said his visit was to inform the Governor about the Army’s activities to be conducted in Lagos, noting that the exercises were designed to further entrench the peace and stability we have enjoyed in Lagos.
He said: “The Nigerian Army has put together a ceremony to remove unexploded ordnances at the site of the 2002 Bomb Explosion in Ikeja cantonment. The objective is to make the area safe and securely remove unexploded ordnances to a safe location in Ajilete area of Ogun State.
“We are ushering in the last three months of the year where citizens travel across the country for festivities. We need to provide safe and secure passage for the people travelling. We have put together three security exercises to prevent any form of breaches and these will be flagged off on Tuesday in Lagos.”
NAF Airstrike Kills 8 Terrorists In Borno
Airstrike undertaken by the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai has killed eight terrorists in Borno State, North-East Nigeria.
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Cdre Edward Gabkwet, said the aircraft was on armed reconnaissance mission on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 when it took out a guntruck with about eight terrorists at Baranga village in Marte local government area of the State.
He said the strike was carried out when two armed terrorists on a motorcycle along an active track were sighted and trailed to the location.
He said the terrorists after sighting the aircraft, took cover under a thick vegetation.
“Upon engaging the vegetation cover, a gun truck with eight terrorists suddenly appeared, speeding off to evade the attack.
“Subsequently, the gun truck was engaged and destroyed, thus eliminating the terrorists,” he said.
The statement reiterated that remnants of terrorists in the North-East have continued to seek the covers of thick forests and vegetation to evade being detected by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and other security agencies.
He said the strike was yet again a clear indication of the commitment of the AFN towards ensuring terrorists find it difficult to randomly roam about freely attacking law-abiding Nigerians.
Police kill 3 IPOB Members, Recover Arms In Enugu
The operatives of the Enugu State Police Command have neutralised three members of the Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network (IPOB/ESN) in their hideouts in Ezioha Mgbowo, Awgu Local Government Area of the state.
The police officers also recovered three pump-action guns, 10 machetes, and other incriminating exhibits.
The command’s spokesperson, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, who made the disclosure via a statement, said the gunmen were killed at about 2:15 a.m. on Monday, September 18, 2023.
Ndukwe stated: “A joint security team, comprising police operatives of the Enugu State Command, NPF Special Forces, and Troops of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army Enugu, acting on credible intelligence, busted the criminal hideout of IPOB/ESN subversive criminal elements.
“The criminal elements were already perfecting plans to enforce the illegal sit-at-home order in the state.
“Three of the hoodlums, who opened fire on the joint team upon sighting them, were neutralised, while several others escaped with severe degrees of gunshot wounds in the ensuing gunfight.
“There has been an intense manhunt for those on the run.”
He quoted the Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Kanayo Uzuegbu, as commending the joint team, assuring the security and safety of citizens and urging them to go about their lawful businesses in the state.
The commissioner reiterated the commitment of the police and other security forces to sustain the onslaught against unrepentant violent criminals operating under any guise, urging the people of Enugu State to report individuals sighted with gunshot wounds to the nearest police station.
“The good people of Enugu State should remain law-abiding and continue to provide the police with actionable security information and intelligence,” Uzuegbu said.
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