This may not be good news for money looters in the country as President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday introduced two bills to the National Assembly to strengthen the war against corruption. This is in the bid to strengthen the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)’s weapons of warfare in the fight against corruption.
President Buhari made this known in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, which he read at the plenary to the house. Buhari urged the Senate to ensure quick passage of the two bills.
First is the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2016 and the second, the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016.
The money laundering bill seeks to repeal the existing Money Laundering Act, which was enacted in 2011 to provide for stiffer penalties for money launderers to discourage the illegal act.
It also seeks to expand the scope of operation of anti-corruption supervisory agencies namely Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau.
When passed into law, Nigerians would be required to do due diligence on their customers or risk going to jail and it provides protection for anyone who discovers and makes disclosure of money laundering.
The second bill the ‘Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016’ is aimed at making provisions that would enable Nigeria to seek international assistance in recovering looted funds. Parts of the President’s letter read;
“This bill seeks to facilitate the provision and obtaining by Nigeria of international assistance in criminal matters, including the provision and obtaining of evidence and things, the making of arrangements for persons to give evidence or assist in criminal investigations, the recovery, forfeiture or confiscation of property in respect of offences…”.
“The bill also seeks the execution of request for search and seizure, the location and identification of witnesses and suspects, the service of documents and other matters connected herewith”.
The existing Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act in place was signed into law in 2004 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was considered as one of his major achievements. This is the first executive bill by Buhari.
Also See: OBJ Writes To Senate President, Others