Senate passes Buhari’s anti corruption bill

The Senate on Tuesday passed an Executive Bill on anti-corruption, more than 15 months after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The law is crucial to the president’s drive to the recovery of looted funds stashed abroad.

The bill received rapid legislative action when it was read the first time on February 15, and then the second time on March 10, 2016.

Tagged “the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill” it is meant to facilitate the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture, and confiscation of proceeds of crime, among others.

The bill, which is to provide mutual assistance in criminal matters between Nigeria and other foreign states, will provide a legal framework to strengthen the fight against corruption, terrorism, economic and financial crimes, money laundering and other related offences.

The passage of the bill came weeks after the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami raised the alarm that the lawmakers were slowing the pace of the fight against corruption by delaying the passage of the bill.

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The Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger), said the enactment of the law is paramount to the anti-corruption drive of the government. He pointed out that it would eliminate territorial jurisdictional constraints in the prosecution of cross-border crimes.

“The passage of the bill will help combating corruption and improve Nigeria’s image in the international community. It will also serve as a fiat for Nigeria to be admitted as a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), “he said.

He added that the scope of the bill had been widened from the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Commonwealth (Enactment and Enforcement) Act 2004, to assume international dimensions in participation and laundering of the proceeds of crime.

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Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki said the passage of the bill would restore the confidence of foreign investors in the country.

“This anti-money laundering legislation is a key component of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption agenda.

“This act will facilitate the needed cooperation with other states to prevent individuals from escaping prosecution by fleeing to another country.

“This is the kind of innovative and cooperative anti-corruption scheme that will truly discourage money laundering. I and my colleagues applaud the President’s creativity and determination to discourage this kind of corruption, “he said.