The Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ola Olukoyede, has called for legislative consideration to empower the anti-graft agency with the power to arrest any rich man with no substantial financial source.
Olukoyede made the call on Thursday, November 14, 2023, while speaking at a Two-Day International Law Conference with the theme: “Unexplained Wealth in the Global South: Examining the Asset Recovery and Return Trajectory” organized by Christopher University, Mowe Ogun State.
The EFCC Boss, Olukoyede, who faulted the limitation faced by the anti-graft agency using the provisions of Section 7 of its Establishment Act in fighting the criminal activities of the treasury looters emphasized that "Unexplained Wealth Orders' have been working greatly in some countries where it has been adopted like United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The EFCC Boss stated “The issue of unexplained wealth is not a local issue. There are jurisdictional legislations across the world to tackle it. To date, countries of the world are faced with criminalities emanating from money laundering practices and illicit funds. This circumstance led to the promulgation of Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWOs that came into force in 2018. Several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius, and African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean have come up with UWO. Nigeria is yet to come up with a national legislation on it.
The EFCC boss, who was represented by the Abuja Zonal Commander, Assistant Commander of the EFCC, ACE1 Adebayo Adeniyi, said “ In Nigeria today, unexplained wealth has become practical means of tracing, identifying, investigating and prosecuting corruption cases. As an anti-graft agency, suspects of any economic and financial crimes are usually required to declare their assets in the course of an investigation. The basis for this is to properly establish their true asset base and their linkage or otherwise to any act of corruption. Owing to the absence of legislation on the issue of unexplained wealth, the EFCC continues to rely on provisions of Section 7 of its Establishment Act to handle it.
"Nations are rapidly settling for non-conviction based asset forfeiture. The reason for this is simple: unexplained wealth can only be beneficial to the state if they are forfeited. Since its inception, the EFCC has secured sizable assets from fraudsters. They range from houses, vehicles, barges, jewelry, money, furniture items, and landed properties, among others.
“Procedures for asset forfeiture usually involve the prosecution of the suspected fraudster. Assets may be forfeited on an interim basis and may also be forfeited permanently depending on the position of the law and the court. However, whether interim forfeiture or permanent forfeiture, what is important is for every ill-gotten wealth to be recovered and kept with the government.
“Countries in the global South are still far away from a culture of public accountability. Ethnic and religious biases often stand in the way of full disclosure of information by people in third-world countries. The implication of this is that anti-corruption agencies can only operate based on the intelligence available to them.
“This takes time. Sometimes, a delay may come from some fraudulent claims to frustrate the forfeiture proceedings. In all of these, what is paramount are facts available to the court. At the end of it all, assets are always recovered permanently for the benefit of all.
"Also, recovery of stolen funds stashed in foreign jurisdictions is more complex. Institutions of state are usually involved in the recovery of such funds and this takes far more time and effort. The return trajectory involved in this may even take years and this can be frustrating to anti-corruption agencies or government institutions involved in the recovery. Nigeria is having such instances in the recovery of looted funds by many government officials.
Tag: EFCC news Unexplained Wealth Orders Ola Olukoyede
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Published 12/15/2023 9:22:28 PM