Stakeholders seek law to tackle unexplained wealth in Nigeria

Stakeholders at EFCC, NJI Workshop

Stakeholders at EFCC, NJI Workshop

Stakeholders at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the National Judicial Institute capacity building workshop for Justices and Judges have called for urgent enactment of a law to tackle to address the issue of unexplained wealth or assets in the country.

Dele Oyewale, the Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC said in a statement that the stakeholders made the demand in the Communique issued at the end of the workshop on Thursday, 5 October.

According to the statement, the stakeholders in the anti-graft war affirmed that robust, globally-acceptable legislation to tackle the issue of unexplained wealth in Nigeria was urgently needed in Nigeria.

A Speaker at the 7th Session of the Workshop, Mr Wahab Shittu, SAN, pointed out that, unlike what was obtained in other territories like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria is yet to enact a law to address the issue of unexplained wealth.

“In Nigeria, the issue of unexplained wealth has long been a cause of worry. Luxurious lives and lavish possessions that seem at odds with declared salaries have prompted inquiries regarding the sources of such wealth”, he said.

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To address this issue, the Workshop arose with a call on the National Assembly to come up with legislation against it.

Other issues that form the body of the Communique include the need for enhanced training for judicial officers and staff of anti-corruption agencies to deal with new trends and acquire skills required for the complex processes of asset tracing and seizures, plea bargaining, cryptocurrency, data protection, artificial intelligence and other emerging typologies of economic and financial crimes.

Other issues are: “Efforts should be made by all stakeholders to achieve full implementation of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 to ensure that persons are not allowed to benefit from the proceeds of their crime”. The issue of the development of a comprehensive whistle-blower and Witness Protection Act to aid the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases by relevant agencies was also raised, among others.

Participants at the Three-Day Workshop, which featured respectable jurists, including Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Judges of the Federal and State High Courts, senior members of the bar, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Acting Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, Secretary to the Commission, Dr. George Ekpungu, investigators, prosecutors across the country, called on members of the National Assembly and Nigerian Bar Association to be future participants, “as the issues discussed in the Workshop also affect their members”.

The Workshop, themed: “Consolidating on the Gains in the Fight Against Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria”, was declared open on Tuesday by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola in attendance, among other dignitaries.

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