The government of Nigeria has gazetted a new regulation aimed at ensuring coordinated tracing, recovery and proper management of proceeds of crimes.
The new regulation, which is entitled; "Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019" and which took effect on November 1, has empowered the federal government to receive from states or local governments 30 per cent of proceeds of recovered assets belonging to either of the two.
Signed into law on October 24 by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, the new regulation empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets; approval and appointment of asset managers, and operating and maintaining a centralised database for the storage of records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
Other functions saddled in the AGF's office include, coordination of inter-agency investigation into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria; coordination of inter-agency tracing of proceeds of crime within and outside Nigeria; collation of all data relating to recovered assets within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose laws empowered them to undertake recoveries, and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issues by Nigerian courts and such other courts outside Nigeria, among others.
Published as Government Notice No. 88 in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 163, Vol. 106 of 29th October, 2019, the AGF noted in the new regulation that his power to make the new rule, is derived from the EFCC (Establishment) Act; the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act; Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Money Laundering (Prohibitions) Act, Terrorism (Prevention) Act, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Act (NFIU), among others, as "and all other powers enabling" him in that behalf to make the regulation.
According to the regulation, all proceeds from the disposal of the final forfeited assets shall be paid into a designated account at the central bank of Nigeria described as the federal government of Nigeria asset recovery account.
The regulation, under Section 11 on "Proceeds from Disposed Assets," sub section 2 to 7, stated that; "All funds belonging to other tiers of government or forfeited to other tiers of government shall be paid into the interim forfeiture recovery account in the CBN.
"Proceeds from perishable seized and confiscated assets shall also be paid into the interim forfeiture recovery account in the CBN.
"The attorney-general of the federation shall within 15 days of confirmation of the proceeds from the CNB inform the honourable minister responsible for matters relating to finance.
"The honourable minister responsible for matters relating to finance shall within 30 days of being informed of funds in the CBN cause the proceeds to be transferred into the consolidated revenue account of the federation for necessary action.
"Where the funds belong to the other tiers of government the honourable minister responsible for matters relating finance shall within 45 days of being informed of funds in the CBN cause the proceeds to be transferred to the relevant tiers of government.
"The office of the AGF in collaboration with the office of the minister of finance shall negotiate not less than 30 per cent of any funds recovered on behalf of other tiers of government as administrative charges of the federal government of Nigeria."
The new regulation, Mr Malami said, has replaced the hitherto existing Proceeds of Crimes Regulation, 2012, which he noted stands revoked from November 1, 2019.
Mr Malami noted that the new regulation will ensure adequate transparency and accountability in the management of recovered looted assets and proceeds generated therefrom.
It is unclear if state governments were consulted before the new regulation was made. Nigeria's anti-corruption agencies, EFCC, ICPC and CCB, though federally owned have jurisdiction over all graft matters including those that occur in states.
Many former state officials, convicted of corruption, have forfeited money and properties as part of their trial.
Based on the new law, before such resources are returned to the states, the federal government would take at least 30 per cent of the value of the recovered assets.