Sagay kicks as Malami proposes creation of another anti-corruption agency

The President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency.

The new agency approved by the Federal Executive Council will be saddled with proper coordination of all recovered looted assets.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami disclosed this to State House correspondents after the FEC meeting on Wednesday.

He said the new agency, known as the ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency’, will oversee the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.

The Minister said the FEC has approved transmission of a bill, titled, “Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,” to the National Assembly.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Justice presented to Council a memo (on Wednesday).

“The memo is about a Bill which seeks the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage.

“It is the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill.

“It is in essence a bill that is targeted and intended to have in place a legal and institutional framework. The legal component of it is having a law and the institutional component of it is to have an agency that will be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in Nigeria.

“What happens before now is the proceeds of crime are scattered all over, and mostly in the hands of different and multiple agencies of government inclusive of the police, the DSS (Department of State Service), EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), and ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission).

“So, with that kind of arrangement which is ad-hoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you off-hand the number of landed assets, number of immovable assets, the amount in cash that are recovered by the federal government by way of interim forfeiture overweigh of a final forfeiture.

“So, it is indeed over time a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.

“If you have a budget item for recovered assets, this agency will now be in a position to provide information to the federal ministry of finance, budget and National Planning on-demand as to what amount is there available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now,” the AGF stated.

Recall that Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, is under investigation over his activities from 2015 to 2020.

Magu's ordeal follows a petition by Malami to President Buhari.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, led by Prof. Itse Sagay, has vehemently kicked against the proposed bill for the amendment of the establishment Act of the EFCC.

Sagay, in a statement on Wednesday, called on Nigerians and the National Assembly to reject the bill.

According to Sagay, the planned amendment was part of an on-going dangerous attempt to destroy Nigeria’s anti-corruption infrastructure and return it to the situation it was, during the dark days before 2015.

Prof Sagay accused those behind the amendment bill of being representatives of the corrupt establishment that brought Nigeria to its knees and subjected Nigerians to humiliation as a result of an extremely negative reputation internationally.

The Senior advocate noted that the new bill will weaken the EFCC and its officials and confer an enormous power on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Sagay tackled the Minister for what he described as his proclivity for aborting criminal cases in favour of major political and governmental figures

He said the bill was being sponsored by those that were “too ashamed to put their names to the draft bill being circulated”, describing such people as the real “enemies of Nigeria

Sagay noted that the new bill would effectively now turn Nigeria’s topmost anti-graft agency into a department in the Ministry of Justice.

“With all the above-established facts, the gravity of the proposed change becomes overwhelming,” the statement added.

“When in addition to all this, we recall the well-known proclivity of the Attorney-General for entering nolle procequi in favour of major political and governmental figures, this move to effectively scrap the EFCC becomes more alarming.

We, therefore, call on the National Assembly and all Nigerians to vigorously reject this attempt to perpetrate a fraud on the nation by effectively scuttling the EFCC and shutting down Nigeria’s anti-corruption war.”

Sagay pointed out that the offensive highlights of the proposed bill, include, “Repeal of the current EFCC Establishment Act which has been a spectacular success and has brought Nigeria into limelight as a major force against corruption.

“The replacement of the Executive Chairman of the EFCC with a Director-General who is effectively to be appointed by the Attorney-General.”

He said that this will eliminate the freedom currently enjoyed by the EFCC and replace it under the complete control of the Attorney-General.

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