Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government can seize assets from citizens who cannot explain the source of their wealth.
The vice president stated this yesterday while declaring open the anti-corruption conference organised by his office and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in Abuja.
“The Supreme Court in a lead judgment of Akaahs JSC, recently held that forfeiture under Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act is a civil process, which neither requires the criminal conviction of the property owner nor his innocence,” he said.
“This opens the door for forfeiture of assets that the purported owner cannot explain, whether or not an allegation of corruption is made,” Osinbajo explained.
According to him, corruption has made Nigeria’s debt and poverty figures double in spite of the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, and said President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is not deceived into thinking that it has won the battle against corruption as it was tackling grand corruption first.
“By that, we mean the stealing of huge public resources directly from the treasury; usually at the highest levels of executive authority; and the stealing of budgeted funds through various schemes,” he said.
“We are now poised to deal with the wider problem of systemic corruption; especially where the average person interacts with government.
“Corruption in the issuance of contracts, licenses and other government approvals; there is no reason why any Nigerian should have to give bribe to law enforcement agents for obtaining drivers licenses or passports or to clear goods at our ports.
“All the relevant government agencies have shown a serious commitment to eradicating these forms of corruption; our next level is to create the environment for collaboration between our agencies, civil society and other stakeholders.”
He said the enforcement of treasury single account (TSA), the presidential initiative on continuous audit, and transferring civil servants on the IPPIS electronic platform has helped to control official theft of public funds.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, questioned the order stopping the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from investigating the officials of Rivers State Government.
Sagay also called on the National Assembly to pass the bill on Intelligence Reform into law to aid information and intelligence sharing among agencies if the fight against corruption must be won.
The Federal High Court had earlier given a judgment which set a perpetual injunction against the anti-graft agency from investigating, arresting or interrogating the state government officials suspected of corruption.
But argued that the order, which Sagay described as clearly illegal and unconstitutional, should be have been appealed to set it aside.
He alleged that the Governor Nyesom Wike-led government is also resisting a new set of investigations of the state government simply by relying on the unresolved case of former Governor Peter Odili.
Sagay stated that instead of turning its back on critical action, the EFCC owed the country the duty to set aside the roadblock in order for the state government to be investigated of financial misconduct.