A Bill, which will clip the wings of anti-graft agencies by establishing a new agency, is in the works, The Nation has learnt.
The bill is seeking to establish the Proceeds of Crimes Recovery and Management Agency (POCA), which will strip the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and six other agencies of powers to seize assets or invoke the forfeiture clause. It has been sent to the President.
If signed into law, the bill will stop the EFCC and six other anti-corruption agencies from securing freezing orders on suspicious bank accounts under investigation.
The bill also empowers a court to give an order to allow a suspect to be paid “reasonable” living expenses from his or her restrained property.
The new bill says POCA’s powers supersede those of the EFCC and the six other agencies.
The other agencies, which are affected by the Proceeds of Crimes Bill, include Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU); and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the police.
All the agencies have lost the powers of recovery of foreign assets.
But President Muhammadu Buhari has stayed action on assent to the bill and demanded input from the anti-graft agencies.
The President is said to have been concerned after learning that the United Kingdom and South Africa have abrogated a similar agency in their jurisdictions.
A source said: “We are disturbed that the new bill seeks to oust the powers of EFCC and six other agencies. It negates the anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
”The provisions of the bill appear to be part of a systematic and organised scheme to frustrate the operations of the EFCC and six other agencies and, thereby, derail the anti-corruption fight of this Administration.”
Critics of the bill believe that it is a clear attempt to derail the anti-corruption war.