The Federal Government, has revealed that more of its agencies have joined the loot recovery drive.
According to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, the agencies include the Department of State Services (DSS), office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
But Hon. Alhassan Doguwa, the Chief Whip in the House of Representatives, disagreed with the AGF. He said the current war against corruption is not built on the principles of the rule of law.
Until recently, only the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the office of AGF, were involved in loot recovery drive.
Malami who spoke on Monday during a programme monitored on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), however, failed to disclose a conservative figure already recovered by the Federal Government since May 29, 2015.
The AGF noted: “We have made some recoveries in the office of AGF. We have deposited the funds into a special account. The account is operated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The Police has made a sizeable recovery. The deposits have been made into an account. The EFCC has made recoveries. The same thing with DSS, ICPC, NSA, NAFDAC and others.
“These agencies are vested with certain powers to recover assets. You cannot get a conservative amount exclusively from the office of the AGF. I think that the responsibility can be handled by the Ministry of Finance or office of the Auditor-General. There have been outright forfeiture. There are temporal forfeitures too.
“What is lacking is a clear legal framework. There is a committee working on an anti-corruption strategy. As I speak, the framework has been circulated to agencies involved in anti-corruption war for review. We are working to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the management of recovered assets.”
Hon Doguwa said there is no legislation that currently backs the management of recovered assets or whistle blowing in the country. Doguwa noted that in 2015, the National Assembly passed a bill on asset management, but was not signed into the law by the presidency.
He said it was wrong for the aforementioned agencies to keep proceeds from recovered loots, since there is no constitutional provision for that.
Hon. Doguwa said: “The National Assembly is an institution. We are in support of the fight against corruption. Under no circumstances shall anyone of us be against the fight against corruption. Democracy must be guided by rules. These rules come by way of legislation.
“If we must succeed in this fight against corruption, we need to set a holistic legal framework. I want to say clearly that we have to provide a legal framework. It has to come from the National Assembly.
“I do not see any reason why these agencies mentioned should continue to keep these loots when there is hunger in Nigeria. This is wrong. There is even no law which supports these agencies to keep these funds. These funds should be used to feed Nigerians.
“The National Assembly has done its own part in passing a law to coordinate recovered loots. We passed a law and the executive refused to assent to it. The blame should go to them. We are now faced with a fresh law because the executive refused to assent to the first one we sent to it. But we will give an expeditious passage to the new law.
“Yes, the National Assembly is in receipt of the Assets Recovery Management Bill. There are other private bills on the same issue. We are taking our time to harmonize everything in order not to pass a law that will be conflicting.
“We need a legal framework. What is lacking in the polity in the fight against corruption is not just the absence of an agency that coordinates the whole thing. The grand fight against corruption cannot be achieved by a strategy alone. It must be backed by a legislation.
“The whistle blowing bill is not even accommodated in our laws. If you want to blow a whistle, where do you go to? Is it the Police, DSS or the AGF’s office? We need time to go through all the submissions made by the executive.”
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