BudgIT tasks President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out the disposal of recovered assets in a transparent manner in line with Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
The news on the sale of recovered assets which the President has directed the Ministry of Finance to carry out within six (6) months was received with mixed feelings due to the non-disclosure of information on assets recovered. With this development, BudgIT wants to remind the Federal Government on its commitment to Open Government partnership, which relates to asset recovery – to strengthen Nigeria’s asset recovery legislation including non-conviction based confiscation powers and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders.
A favourable framework would have been the enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which has been passed by the Senate but awaiting passage by the House of Representatives. If the bill was passed, it would have provided for an effective legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of the proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities. We have not seen increased interest in the Nigerian government to institutionalize the process of disposing of assets recovered as proceeds of crime.
We also notice that the monthly publication of reports of the recovered assets and utilization, as provided by the OGP secretariat, stated that an audit committee set up by the President is verifying all recovered assets. However, we are yet to see the report of the committee. Government’s commitment to Open Government means that information should be disclosed proactively, yet, vital information of recovered assets is not accessible to citizens. The Federal Ministry of Justice has been tasked to develop guidelines for transparent management of recovered assets pending the enactment of the law but assets recovered should not be sold without a transparent management framework.
With this in mind, BudgIT calls on President/Federal Government to develop the guidelines for the management of assets recovered. Likewise, we encourage the House of Representatives to pass the POCA bill into law. We also encourage the federal government to be transparent on sales and management of recovered assets so as not to create a scenario where looted funds are used to repurchase public assets.
We strongly believe that these recommendations, if implemented, will go a long way in enhancing good governance and help in institutionalizing asset management in the country.