Buhari Signs Executive Order on Suspicious Assets

  • Law targets assets of ex-govs, ministers, others
  • Guidelines for implementing executive order 5 out soon
  • Fashola debunks claim on Chinese prisoners working in Nigeria

Omololu Ogunmade and Chineme Okafor in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari thursday in Abuja signed The Executive Order 6, which seeks to restrain owners of assets under investigation from carrying out any further transaction on such assets.

The new law targets the assets of no fewer than 11 former governors, ministers and other politically exposed persons, who served in the country between 1999 and 2015.

With the coming into effect of Executive Order Number 6, Buhari hopes to swoop on the assets said to have been corruptly acquired at home and abroad by top government officials directly and through their fronts in and outside government over the years.

THISDAY gathered that no fewer than ten former governor currently under trial for various graft-related offences are listed by the federal government as targets for asset seizure pending the conclusion of their trials.

Also listed as targets for the seizure of their assets are former ministers and elements, who purportedly aided and abetted the laundering of government funds for top politicians in the country.

The list shows that a total of 155 Politically Exposed Persons, businessmen, top civil servants and private individuals and companies that were used to launder funds are also targets under the new order, whose date of take off was not indicated.

This is coming as the federal government also disclosed that the guidelines for the implementation of the Executive Order 5 signed by the president to protect jobs and revenues created from Nigeria’s economy for Nigerians, would be out soon.

Buhari who signed the order in the State House, said he had chosen to do so in view of the necessity to stop owners of such assets from further using their proceeds to pervert the cause of justice or sponsor acts that can be injurious to the state. He described the order as a platform for counter-attack.

“It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian state. Accordingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis. In this regard, the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that the ends of justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.

“It is in consequence of this that I have decided to issue the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to inter alia restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes or for acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping, sponsorship of ethnic or religious violence, economic sabotage and cases of economic and financial crimes, including acts contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and against the overall interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian State,” the president said.

According to him, available records have shown that the aggregate value of funds allegedly stolen on which prosecution is being conducted is N595,409,838 billion, saying the figure exceeds the N500 billion appropriated for Social Investment Programme in the 2018 budget.

He said the stolen money was also higher than the highest appropriation of N344 billion in the 2018 budget for the Ministry of Works for construction and rehabilitation of several roads across the country.

Buhari also said funds budgeted for execution of roads captured in the 2018 budget are the equivalent of about 57 per cent of the monies recovered from the prosecution of some of the on-going high profile corruption related cases.

According to him, the fight against corruption is becoming a popular trend in Africa especially with the ratification of African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

The president who tasked relevant stakeholders to uphold the executive order, also directed government agencies to, in consultation with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, adopt what he described as best practices and strategies to make the order effective.

“Happily, the fight against corruption is gaining more momentum among the African states. We just returned from the African Anti-Corruption Year event at Nouakchott, Mauritania where all African Heads of State were gathered to promote the anti-corruption message.
“Nigeria and 39 other African States have ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. I pledge to elevate the African Union anti-corruption agenda at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

“Therefore, in order to preserve Nigeria’s political and economic systems, and the continuous progress of the Nigerian State from the serious threat of corruption, I call on all stakeholders, and indeed every Nigerian to give effect to this Executive Order.

“Agencies of the federal government in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation should identify and adopt best practices, and develop strategies for action. The fight against corruption is one that must be fought by everyone wherever corruption rears its head,” Buhari added.

In a related development, the federal government has disclosed that the guidelines for the full implemention of the Executive Order 5 signed by President Buhari to protect jobs and revenues created from Nigeria’s economy for Nigerians, would be out soon.

The Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, said yesterday that the monitoring and evaluation council set up by the president to develop the guidelines was almost done with its job.

Adamu, spoke at the 2018 Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Association of Consulting Engineers in Nigeria (ACEN) in Abuja.
His clarification on the Presidential Executive Order 5, also followed doubt expressed by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, that Chinese prisoners were smuggled into Nigeria by big Chinese firms to work and take away job opportunities from qualified Nigerians.

Meanwhile, Fashola, has said the claims that Chinese firms in Nigeria habour workers serving prison terms in their home countries within their workforce in Nigeria were subjective and unconfirmed.

He suggested the loan conditions given to Nigeria by China may include, the use of certain number of Chinese labour to execute infrastructure projects in the country, adding that it was necessary for Nigeria to upgrade its influence in the world by developing her economy such that it could equally take such decisions in its engagements with the rest of the world, especially countries it would lend money to.

“We don’t need to generalise, there is so much unverifiable news out there about this. How many people could they possibly have in jail in their country, can there jail produce so much people? We need to be careful about some of these,” he said.

“What is important is that we must understand that we get funding from these countries and across the world, the man who pays is king, it is the truism of life. They have Exim Bank, we have Exim bank, and by the time our nation prospers, you know what is going to happen: all of you will be working in those countries that we will grant aids to, we will export capacities out. We must engage them smartly,” Fashola said.