Posted by News Express | 15 March 2022 | 383 times
By NAOMI SHARANG
The Senate on Tuesday, moved to re-amend the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, passed on March 9.
This followed the consideration of a motion for re-committal sponsored by Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, during plenary.
In his presentation, Abdullahi, relied on Orders 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders 2022 (as amended) to move for the amendment of the bill.
He explained that the re-amendment of the bill became imperative in view of Clause 74 which placed the burden of proof on the investigating agencies rather than the defendant as recommended by the Joint Committee in its report.
According to him, the amendment runs contrary to the provision of Article 12(7) of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC).
“Article 12(7) of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime provides that, States Parties may consider the possibility of requiring that an offender demonstrate the lawful origin of alleged proceeds of crime or other property liable to confiscation,” he said.
On the need to amend Clause 74 of the bill, Abdullahi said, “the implication of the amendment is that civil forfeitures would be a thing of the past in Nigeria as there would not be final forfeitures without a conviction.
“Implying that all property seized are included in the clause, even those that may be incidental to an arrest and may contain evidence needed for investigation of the crime.
“For example, phones, computers, documents, photographs etc recovered from suspected kidnappers, drug barons, human and child traffickers, cyber criminals, terrorists and the like will also wait for convictions before they can be seized.
“This is even in situations where the suspects are at large and the property can be recovered for the benefit of the victim and Nigerians where applicable.
“Another example of a conundrum, is the Ikoyi Loot case, where no one has yet come to claim ownership of the funds.
“And since there are no suspects to convict, the status of the funds would by virtue of this amendment remain in perpetual limbo, pending trial and conviction when the owner can be found if ever,” he said.
The Senate, thereafter, recommitted the bill to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for further work.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Proceeds of Crime Bill seeks to provide for the restraint, seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of property acquired through unlawful activities. (NAN)
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