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Nigeria

Asset Recovery Legislation (NG0008)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s): National Assembly, The Presidency, Anti-Corruption Agencies, National Security Adviser, Law Enforcement Agencies, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Central Bank. Public What You Pay, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, Digital Forensics, PGL, African Network for Economic and Environmental Justice, Society for Forensic Accounting and Fraud Prevention

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Fiscal Openness, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

This commitment is to strengthen Nigerian laws with regards to asset recovery especially non-conviction based confiscation powers and unexplained wealth orders; and ensure proper management of assets and proceeds

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8: To strengthen Nigeria’s asset recovery legislation including non-conviction-based confiscation powers and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“This commitment aims to strengthen Nigerian laws with regards to asset recovery especially non-conviction-based confiscation powers and unexplained wealth orders and ensure proper management of assets and proceeds.”

Milestones:

8.1. Enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act

8.2. Capacity building for the ACAs to implement non-conviction-based asset forfeiture regime

8.3. Federal Ministry of Justice to develop guidelines for transparent management of recovered assets pending the enactment of the law

Start Date: January 2017 End Date: June 2019

Action plan is available here:

Context and Objectives

This commitment seeks to enact legislation that would aid asset recovery and ensure proper and transparent management of recovered assets.

President Buhari positioned the recovery of stolen assets at the forefront of his political agenda. [86] Between May 2015 and November 2017, MDAs reportedly recovered assets worth millions of Naira. [87] In 2017, the president set up a committee on the Audit of Recovered Public Assets to audit recovered assets, which reported a year later that assets worth billions of Naira had been recovered. [88]

The success of these asset recovery efforts is difficult to measure given a substantial lack of transparency in data, which causes concern that recovered assets are being re-looted. [89]

Lack of transparency has been exacerbated by a fragmented and inefficient legal and institutional framework for asset recovery. As far back as 2000, Nigeria had laws and agencies addressing the proceeds of crime and corruption, [90] including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2000, [91] the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2002, [92] and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, 2004. [93] However these laws (among others) have failed to provide a harmonized legal and institutional framework for the confiscation, seizure, recovery, and management of assets and property derived from illegal activities. [94]

In response, the Nigerian government created the Proceeds of Crime Bill which establishes the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency (PCRMA). [95] According to the Bill, the PCRMA deals specifically with asset recovery, including non-conviction asset forfeiture which was unavailable in the asset recovery regime. [96] The Nigeria Senate passed the Proceeds of Crime Bill in 2015, [97] but the law is not yet passed in the National Assembly. [98] Support for the Proceeds of Crime Bill in civil society is split; some believe it will more clearly define the roles and powers of relevant institutions, [99] and others maintain that the existing laws must simply be strengthened and establishing an additional agency was not warranted. [100] The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) argued that the Bill needs to provide for a central database for recovered assets, and a new institution responsible for the transparent management of all assets. These institutions should include civil society representation on their executive boards. [101]

This commitment is relevant to the OGP values of access to information and public accountability. Although the IRM researcher was not able to review the Proceeds of Crime Bill, commentary on the draft legislation suggests that there were no provisions that would require agencies to publish information on recovered assets. [102] The commitment nevertheless included outcomes of published guidelines on transparent management of assets and publicly available information on the use of recovered assets.

Overall, the milestones are objectively verifiable. The enactment of the POCA is straight forward to determine, and it should be possible to identify the FMoJ’s guidelines on asset recovery. The capacity-building activities in Milestone 8.2 seem less verifiable.

This commitment should have a minor impact. There was no consensus amongst stakeholders that the bill provides the robust regulatory framework needed for the transparent management of recovered assets. [103] David Ugolor, Executive Director of ANEEJ, believes the bill will provide agencies with a specific mandate to deal with asset recovery and non-conviction based asset forfeiture, which is currently unavailable. [104] However, the commitment is vague regarding the ACAs’ capacity building exercises and the FMoJ guidelines. Although failing to address the problem of transparent management of recovered assets, the commitment is nevertheless a positive and incremental step toward a more functional legal and institutional framework for asset recovery.

Next Steps

Asset recovery legislation is an important tool that will benefit open government initiatives in Nigeria. Future commitments in this policy area should include:

  • Developing specific activities such as a central database on recovered assets, civil society representation on, or engagement with, the PCRMA, and indicators on monitoring and publishing information on resolved cases;
  • Government publication of information on recovered assets on a dedicated platform; and
  • Considering technology or innovative processes to implement this commitment.
[86] CIFAR, “Asset recovery in Nigeria: The good and the bad” (9 Dec. 2018), https://cifar.eu/nigeria-asset-recovery/.
[87] Id.
[88] In 2018, the Committee reported to the president that it had recovered N769 billion. Johnbosco Agbakwuru, “Buhari begs NASS to pass Proceeds of Crime Bill, recovers N796bn stolen assets” (Vangaurd 11 Sept. 2018), https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/buhari-begs-nass-to-pass-proceeds-of-crime-bill-recovers-n769bn-stolen-assets/.
[89] CIFAR.
[90] Derin Fagbure, “Asset recovery in Nigeria” (14 Dec. 2015), https://oal.law/asset-recovery-in-nigeria/.
[91] Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, The Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000 (2000), http://www.nigeria-law.org/Corrupt%20Practices%20and%20other%20Related%20Offences%20Act%202000.htm.
[94] David Ugolor (Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice), interview by IRM researcher, 6 Mar. 2019.
[95] The IRM researcher was unable to locate the Proceeds of Crime Bill online.
[96] Ugolor, interview.
[97] Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, “President Buhari, Sign the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law” (Premium Times, 14 Jul. 2015), https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2015/07/14/president-buhari-sign-the-proceeds-of-crime-bill-into-law-by-bamidele-ademola-olateju/.
[98] Agbakwuru.
[99] CIFAR; Ugolor, interview.
[100] Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, “Observations on the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2017 (SB376),” http://placng.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Observations-on-the-proceeds-of-crime-bill-1.pdf.
[101] Transparency International, “Returning Nigerians’ stolen millions” (2 Aug. 2018), https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/returning_nigerians_stolen_millions.
[102] Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.
[103] Transparency International; CIFAR.
[104] “CIFAR; Ugolor, interview.

Commitments

  1. Participatory Budgeting

    NG0015, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  2. Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard

    NG0016, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting

    NG0017, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  4. Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives

    NG0018, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Implement EITI Standard

    NG0019, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry

    NG0020, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  8. Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy

    NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  9. Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management

    NG0023, 2019, Access to Information

  10. Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)

    NG0024, 2019, Access to Information

  11. Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0025, 2019, Dispute Resolution & Legal Assistance

  12. Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs

    NG0026, 2019, E-Government

  13. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  14. Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable

    NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  15. Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery

    NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building

  16. Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM

    NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle

    NG0001, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Open Contracting

    NG0002, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Extractive Sector Transparency

    NG0003, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Tax Reporting Standards

    NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  21. World Bank Doing Business Index

    NG0005, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  22. Beneficial Ownership Register

    NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing

    NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  24. Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  25. Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination

    NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  26. FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting

    NG0010, 2017, Access to Information

  27. FOIA Compliance for Disclosure

    NG0011, 2017, Access to Information

  28. Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  29. Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review

    NG0013, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  30. Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback

    NG0014, 2017, E-Government

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