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ANEEJ, MANTRA urge Buhari to sign POCA, MLA bills

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David Ugolor

Asset recovery campaign rrganisation, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Proceeds of Crime Bill, and the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill into Law.

In a statement issued shortly after the National Assembly transmitted both bills to the President for his assent, ANEEJ Executive Director, David Ugolor, said when signed the bills would strengthen anti-corruption fight in Nigeria, and take the war against corruption to the doorstep of treasury looters.

“We urge the President to assent to both bills to strengthen the asset recovery architecture in Nigeria, and also institutionalise the enabling frameworks for the effective implementation of the London anti-corruption and the Global Forum for Asset Recovery (GFAR) commitments, which the President signed unto in 2016.

“We commend the National Assembly for transmitting both Bills after painstaking negotiations. While we note that the POCA cannot be perfect as passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, if assented to by the President, it will help send a strong message to other jurisdictions withholding our stolen funds,” Ugolor said.

Also commenting, the Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability in Recovery and Management of Returned Assets (MANTRA) project, Zikirulahi Ibrahim, said: “This is a significant milestone for all anti-corruption activists in Nigeria, and a quantum leap in the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy of the Federal Government. We must ensure that looters of the nation’s treasury are not allowed to keep proceeds of their criminality. When assented by the President, POCA will make our campaign for the recovery and management of looted assets a lot easier.”

The Executive Director of CIRDDOG, Enugu and South East Partner of ANEEJ Mantra project, Raph Ndigwe, noted that “the transmission of both bills to the President for assent signals a significant milestone in the war against corruption in Nigeria. Senator Utazi has written his name in gold in the struggle to rid Nigeria of corruption by this development.”

Also speaking, Executive Director of NISD, Ado-Ekiti, and Mantra coordinating partner for South-West Nigeria, Abiodun Oyeleye, said: “It will surely give the needed teeth to the ACAs to bite treasury looters. Unexplained wealth can be seized and the onus placed on the owner to showcase why the government will not seize such suspicious assets with POCA.”

The MANTRA team commended the doggedness of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption & Financial Crimes Committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, for his untiring efforts that eventually led to the passage of the POCA and MLA Bills into law and their transmission to the President for assent yesterday.


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