The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) has unveiled new guidelines for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2021.
The new guidelines which came into effect on October 24, 2019 stated that all ministries, departments or agencies and committees seeking to conduct, organize or host programs on the fight against corruption must seek and obtain clearance of the justice minister.
Similarly, all ministries, departments and agencies and committees must seek and obtain clearance of the minister on donor assisted project.
The Minister of Justice is empowered under Paragraph 5.0 of the National Anti-com1ption Strategy 2017-2021 to co-ordinate and issue policy directives from time to time.
The guidelines make the Office of the AGF the secretariat for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
Malami has also been empowered to manage all assets recovered as proceeds of crimes under a new regulation that came into effect on October 24, 2019.
Entitled: “Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019,” and published as Government Notice No. 88 in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 163, Vol. 106 of 29th October, 2019, it says all anti-corruption agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), have ceased to have power to manage assets whether recovered in the interim or final forfeiture. The gazette, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, was signed by Malami and stated that the AGF resorted to the powers conferred on him by 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.
By the regulation the AGF will also coordinate all inter-agencies investigation in recovery matters within and outside the country even as he would also co-ordinate tracing of proceeds of crimes within and outside Nigeria.
The AGF would operate and maintain a “centralised database for the storage of records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.”
According to the gazette, the regulation shall apply to illegally acquired assets and proceeds of crime by a person, corporate bodies, including financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions investigated or prosecuted under any relevant Act in Nigeria.
Section 5 of the regulation states that “all non-conviction- based forfeiture shall be conducted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”
Anti-corruption agencies have also been mandated to transfer to the office of the AGF all non-conviction-based forfeiture issues, which arise in the course of investigation or prosecution.
Section 10 empowers the AGF to set up a structure for the transparent management of all final forfeited assets.
Under the new regulation, states will now pay not less than 30 per cent of assets recovered on their behalf to the federal government as administrative charges.