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Thursday, February 22, 2024

EFCC, NJI, stakeholders seek legislation on unexplained wealth

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), National Judicial Institute (NJI), and other stakeholders in the anti-graft war have called for a robust, globally-acceptable legislation to tackle the issue of unexplained wealth in Nigeria.

EFCC in a press statement by acting Media & Publicity, Dele Oyewale, Thursday in Abuja, said: “This call came out of a communique issued on October 5, 2023 at the end of the 5th EFCC-NJI Capacity Building Workshop for Justices and Judges at the NJI, Jabi, Abuja. 

“According to the communique, “there is an urgent need to enact legislation to address the issue of possession of unexplained wealth or assets.”

The spokesperson said a speaker at the 7th Session of the workshop, Mr. Wahab Shittu (SAN), pointed out that unlike what obtained in other territories like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria was yet to enact a law to address the issue of unexplained wealth.

“In Nigeria, the issue of unexplained wealth has long been a cause of worry. Luxurious lives and lavish possessions that seem at odds with declared salaries have prompted inquiries regarding the sources of such wealth,” he said. 

Oyekunle explained that to address this issue, the workshop rose with a call on the National Assembly to come up with a legislation against it.

He said other issues that formed the body of the communique include the need for enhanced training for judicial officers and staff of anti-corruption agencies to deal with new trends and acquire skills required for the complex processes of asset tracking and seizures, plea bargaining, crypto currency, data protection, artificial intelligence and other emerging typologies of economic and financial crimes.

Other issues were:  “Efforts should be made by all stakeholders to achieve full implementation of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 to ensure that persons are not allowed to benefit from the proceeds of their crime.”

The issue of a development of a comprehensive whistle blower and Witness Protection Act to aid the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases by relevant agencies, was also raised, among others, the spokesperson added.

He said participants at the three-day workshop, which featured respectable jurists, including Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal,  Judges of the Federal and State High Courts, senior members of the bar, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

Oyedele noted that acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, Secretary to the Commission, Dr. George Ekpungu, investigators, prosecutors across the country, called on members of the National Assembly and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to be future participants, “as the issues discussed in the Workshop also affect their members.”

 He said the workshop themed: “Consolidating on the Gains in the Fight Against Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria” was declared open on Tuesday by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola in attendance, among other dignitaries.

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