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8th NASS: Stakeholders meet to fast track Buhari’s assent to anti-corruption bills

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

 

The key stakeholders in the Anti-Corruption war have met to fast track the process of transmitting five bills to president Muhammadu Buhari for assent before June 11, 2019, which marks the end of the 8th National Assembly.

To this end, the stakeholders drawn from the National Assembly, Federal Ministry of Justice (FMJ) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Committee (ACJMC), held a three-day and two separate technical workshops in Abuja.

Speaking at the workshop which was organised by the FMJ in collaboration with Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (RoLAC)-British Council and funded by European Union (EU), the Director, Legal Drafting in the National Assembly, Alh. Mohammed Hassan, noted that the workshops were apt, considering the short time before the end of the 8th Assembly.

According to Hassan, the five bills which include: Proceeds of Crime (POCA) Bill, Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, Money Laundering, Whistle Blower Bill and Federal Audit Commission Bill are very important bills that would boost the administration’s fight against corruption in the next four years.

He expressed optimism that the president will give the bills priority and assured that his department will work harder to ensure that the clean up process of the Bills is done quickly and ready for assent.

He said: “In view of the short time, everybody have to work day and night, even the legal department to ensure that all the bills passed by the senate are worked upon and transmitted.

“I am optimistic that the president has consideration for the Bills and will give it priority. These bills we are advocating for are all crucial especially the policy it pursues, which is the fight against corruption and he needs this kind of law. With this, we hope he will give Assent.”

The Director, however regretted that the lack of cordial relationship between the executive and legislature has been the reason why most Bills in spite of how important they are have not been passed into Law or assented to by the president.

He said the relationship between the Executive and 8th Assembly was characterized by conflict and discord often caused by Political reasons, sentiments along party differences. He therefore, urged the incoming Assembly to ensure that they establish a cordial relationship.

“The 8th Assembly could not achieve much because of this unhealthy relationship with the Executive. So many excellent proposals or went for nothing. We hope that the next assembly will have a cordial relationship and work for the interest and progress of the people,” he said.

Stakeholders at the anti-corruption technical workshops in Abuja organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice and ACJMC with the support of RoLAC and EU

Also speaking, the Team lead, Open Governance Partnership (OGP) and Consultant, RoLAC, Mr. Sulayman Dawodu, expressed delight that the meeting made very significant progress.

Dawodu also expressed strong hopes that the bills particularly the POCA, Mutual Legal Assistance and Federal Audit bills will be passed into law.

Dawodu however, pointed out that the Money Laundering bill is currently in conflict with the EFCC Bill. He added that the stakeholders are advocating that the former be passed into law because it also strengthens the mechanism for identifying non-financial businesses which facilitates money laundering.

He explained, “in the money laundering bill we have set up a new bureau, which is empowered and autonomous to strengthen the institution, the mechanism, the framework for identifying non financial businesses. These includes those that assist the money launderers, the lawyers, estate agents/ surveyors and goldsmith, these are avenues through which money is laundered and it’s not been well regulated.

“But, they are placing it within EFCC which is a law enforcement agency. They don’t have regulatory power, so it’s better to have independent regulatory power like NFIU the CBN and others. But these are non financial institutions and they assists money laundering, if you regulate them and make them a stronger institution, it’ll enhance a fight against corruption, rather than putting it as a unit with powers limited under an EFCC which is a law enforcement agency.”

Also, the Clerk, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Mr. Emmanuel Osuji, while also expressing hope that the bills will be passed into law stressed that the bills are very crucial if Buhari must fight corruption effectively.

With particular reference to the POCA Bill, Osuji noted that the bill when passed into law will see to the establishment of an agency to manage all recovered assets which will enhance transparency.

“EFCC has been recovering huge amounts of money, but where are they? they cannot be accounted for and they are sometimes even re-looted. The passage of this bill id very urgent to fight corruption,” he said.


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