LAST PUSH FOR THE POCA – ANEEJ CALLS FOR DISCLOSURE POLICY FOR ARMU
On October 19th 2018, the Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, together with her MANTRA partners – BANGOF, CSJ, NISD, CIRDDOC, Development Exchange Centre and representatives of the NASSCO and NCTO including the FMOJ and the OGP secretariat – held a meeting to inaugurate an advocacy working group on the passage of seemingly stale anti-corruption bills at the National Assembly. The event drew officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), civil society organizations (CSOs), and clerks of committees of the NASS involved in the passage of the bills. A key outcome of that meeting in October was that stakeholders called for the fast-tracking of the four anti-corruption bills presently before the National Assembly (NASS).
With that October meeting, stakeholders took one huge step forward in the push for the passage of the four anti-corruption bills at the National Assembly. That leap forward was a meeting with the Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Nov 5th, 2018. In a statement at the meeting which held at the Honourable Attorney General’s Office in Abuja, the Rev David Ugolor, ANEEJ executive director said that stakeholders have been working closely with the Asset Recovery and Management Unit (ARMU) of the MOJ in developing policy around ASSET RECOVERY issues.
‘We are in the process of launching the last push for the passage of the Proceeds of Crimes Bill, and therefore would like to invite the Ministry of Justice to join the coalition to support the passage of the Bill. We also like to encourage you to extend our appeal to President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to also support the last push for the passage of the POCA Bill. On our part, we are reaching out to the National Assembly and a broad alliance of civil society and the Private Sector for this final push’, the Rev Ugolor said.
The Rev Ugolor also called on the MOJ & the Minister to develop a disclosure Policy on the utilization of all recovered stolen assets in line with the MoU with the UK/Swiss Government and Post-GFAR Principles, ‘to help with answering a lot of questions which citizens ask us in the field’.
Outcomes of the meeting include the following:
- All relevant stakeholder from the Executive and Legislature are committed to the passage of POCA before the end of the current administration
- The Bill has been passed in the House of Representatives.
- The Bill has not been passed yet in the Senate due to some issues with interpretation which has just been dealt with by the Judiciary Committee to which it was referred. It will therefore be considered for passage once the Senate resumes
- It is important that the President assents to the Bill as swiftly as possible once it is passed, as was the case with the NFIU Act
- There might be a need for a joint committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate for reconciliation of the versions before each Chamber, if needed.
- The House of Representatives passed the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill before its recent vacation.
- Overall, the passage of the Bill is necessary to deal with all issues of asset recovery, and to avoid the need for stop-gap measures like executive orders.
The meeting took place at the Conference Room of the AG in the FMOJ. It had in attendance an alliance of CSOs from the six geopolitical zones in the Federation led by the ED of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, members of the media and the following dignitaries:
- The AG of the Federation, represented by Mrs. Ladidi Mohammed (Head, ARMU and Chairperson of the Technical Committee of the National Anti-corruption Strategy.
- Abiodun Aikomo (SA to the President on Financial Crimes)
- Kehinde Ogninni (SA to the President on Financial Crimes)
- Sen ChukwukaUtaji (Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-corruption)
- Kayode Oladele (Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes