By Festus Fifen.
The Nigeria Federal Government on Wednesday approved the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill.
Nigeria Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who presented the memo at 15th virtual Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, told State House Correspondents that the bill which will be forwarded to National Assembly for approval, is targeted and intended to have in place a legal and institutional framework.
Malami further explained that previous proceeds of crime are scattered all over in different agencies of government thereby making accountability an herculean task.
In his words “the Federal Ministry of Justice presented a Council memo today. The Council memo is about a Bill which seeks the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage. It is a 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, EFCC, and ICPC.
“So, with that kind of arrangement which is adhoc, there is no agency of government that is saddled with the responsibility of data generation, an agency that can give you offhand 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 forfeigture. So, it is indeed overtime a kind of arrangement
that is not uniform and consistent.”
The AGF further added that the new law seeks to move the fight against corruption to the next level.
“Next level of transparency, next level of accountability in essence, we will have in place an agency of government that is exclusively responsible for anything proceeds of crime.
“A one-stop shop arrangement by which all the assests that are recoveredarising from crimes that are indeed vested in the federal government, you have a one-stop arrangenet where you can have an information. As it is for example the federal ministry of Justice is only in a position to account and giving comprehensive account of what
recoveries were made by the ministry.
“But any recovery made by the police, DSS, the ministry of justice is not in a position to know. So, for the purpose of decision making and policy, the FG is not in a position to have a wholistic appreciation.
“So, by the bill that is now presented for the consideration of the council, we’ll have a law that establishes an agency,
“And as you rightly know, Mr President has sanctioned ever since he came on board, that there should be a budget line, a budget item for recovered assets.
“So, 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 available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now.
“So, it is about a memo that seeks to establish a legal framework, that seeks to establish institutional framework, that seeks to further take the fight against corruption to the next level by way of establishing transparency, accountability and making the possibility of forfeiture a proceeds of crime easy through the sanctioning of non-conviction based forfeiture among others,” he added.
The Federal Executive Council also approved a new national policy on occupational safety and health, tagged National Policy on Occupational Safety 2020.
Minister of Labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the new policy is aimed at ensuring that all workers are safe at their work places across the country, adding that it derives from provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention.
According to Ngige, “The Federal executive Council today approved a new policy on occupational safety and health-2020. This policy is designed to make for safety and health of workers at work places.
“It derives from the main ground norm law of the 1999 constitution as amended, which in section 17 (3c) prescribes that the Nigerian State shall make laws and bye-laws for preservation of the health and well-being of workers in the work places; men and women at work.
“It also derives form the ILO convention 155, which Nigeria has also domesticated. Again, that talks about making the work place conducive and ensuring the health and well-being of workers,” Ngige explained.
The Labour Minister also said the last time the policy was reviewed was fourteen years ago but the new one has a review period of three years.
“The last policy we have was approved in 2006 which makes it exactly 14 years since that was approved by the Federal Executive Council and that is the policy we have been working on. But u know that 14 years is a long span in the life of any law so in the course of operation, certain issues have been thrown up, the world has gone digital, work place mechanism and hazards have been changing and it was therefore necessary that we do a new policy.
“This policy we did now is what you call repeal and replace and it takes care of all that is needed for now, for the health of Nigerian workers,” he said.
The Minister explained that the new policy gives specific roles to agencies of government.
He said: “It gives specific roles to agencies, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA,) Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA,) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA,) Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Everybody has his own role now because it’s a cross-cutting situation as most Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government are involved.”
Ngige said the new policy has a review period of three years.
Commenting on the seven-day ultimatum given by the Trade Union Congress (TUC,) which is threatening to go on strike, the Minister said the ultimatum is already misplaced because it was addressed to the President of Nigerian, which contravenes labour laws.
“The TUC issue, the seven-day ultimatum was misplaced because they were writing the President and issuing ultimatum to him. The President is not recognised by ILO. The competent authority for this nature of dispute in Nigeria resides in the man who oversees them, which is whoever is the Minister of Labour and Employment,” he said.
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