President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a bill to the House of Representatives, seeking their approval to grant the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the powers to freeze accounts allegedly holding proceeds of crime and go hard on money launderers.
This is contained in a letter written by the President and read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during plenary on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
It can be recalled that assent to the same Bill was withheld by President Buhari in 2019, following the worsening working relationship between the National Assembly and the Executive.
According to the letter read by Gbajabiamila, part of the bill sought the creation of a Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Agency. This is coming after the bill was approved by the Federal Executive Council on September 16, 2020, for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
The letter from the president, partly reads, “Please recall that this bill was passed by the National Assembly in 2019 but was not granted assent due to some issues that were identified during the review.
“The Proceeds of Crime Bill is essential and critical in building an enduring and sustainable foundation for the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across the Nigerian borders.
“The bill will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize, freeze and confiscate stolen assets in Nigeria while observing all related constitutional and human rights laws.
“This bill will also address the problem of lack of transparency, accountability and lack of credible records associated with the current procedure in the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies and other institutions in Nigeria.”
The President, in the letter, said that some of the objectives of the proposed agency include the enforcement and administration of the provisions of the bill, the coordination of the recovery and management of the proceeds and instrumentalities of unlawful activity in Nigeria, in collaboration with anti-corruption and other law enforcement agencies.
He disclosed that once recovery is made from the proceeds of crime, the agency will ensure that Nigerians derive maximum benefit from it. The properties and assets will be secured and the final forfeitures granted through a court order can be paid into the Confiscated and Forfeited Account to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Buhari in crucial meeting with Obasanjo, other former heads of state
President Buhari is presiding over a National Security Council meeting with some former heads of state and some security chiefs.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently presiding over a National Security Council meeting with some former heads of state and some security chiefs.
Although the agenda of the meeting is not made public, issues bothering on the current security situation in the country are believed to top the agenda. This follows the outbreak of violence across the country during the protest against police brutality and extra-judicial killings, which has led to the loss of lives and destruction of public assets and private properties.
According to media reports, the meeting which is coordinated from the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, has in virtual attendance General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd.), former President Goodluck Jonathan and former head of interim national government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Others who are physically present at the council chambers are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.); Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin; Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director-General, Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; and Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai, among others are attending with the President.
This meeting is coming a day after President Buhari’s national broadcast on the security situation in the country calling for an end to the #EndSARS protests as their voices have been loudly heard.
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Senatorial, State House of Assembly bye-elections postponed – INEC
Senatorial and State House of Assembly bye-elections slated to hold on October 31 in 11 states have been postponed by INEC.
The 6 Senatorial and 9 State House of Assembly bye-elections slated to hold on October 31 in 11 states of the Federation has been postponed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The vacancies were as a result of death and resignation of previous members.
According to the statement issued by its National Commissioner & Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye Esq., INEC said the decision was taken after meeting with the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Thursday.
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) October 22, 2020
Though the commission did not categorically state the reason for the postponement, feelers are that it may not be unconnected with the raging #EndSARS protests across the nation.
Some Nigerians mistook promptness of FG response as sign of weakness – Buhari
President Buhari has said that FG’s promptness to consent to the demands of the protesters was taken as a sign of weakness.
President Muhammadu Buhari has pointed out that the promptness with which the Federal Government acted in meeting the demands of the #EndSARS protesters seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
This was disclosed by the president in his national broadcast on Thursday, October 22, 2020, on the current widespread violence which has engulfed the country following the protest against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
The president said that the government listened to the protesters and after evaluating their five-point demands, they were accepted and some of them implemented, which includes the disbandment of SARS.
In his address to Nigerians, President Buhari said, “As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
“Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
The president said the actions of these elements has caused serious violence which has led to the loss of human lives, attack on correctional facilities, destruction and vandalization of public and private properties, attack on the palace of Oba of Lagos, invasion of International Airport and so on.
While acknowledging that the choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of every citizen as enshrined in the constitution, the president pointed out that this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens and the necessity to operate within the law.