Lawmakers consider amnesty bill for corrupt public, civil servants

Alexander Davis

The Nigerian House of Representatives, upon resumption after recess in 2020, is expected to commence debates on a bill seeking economic amnesty to serving or retired public/civil servants, who knowingly or unknowingly, have appropriated or laundered public funds to return same into a dedicated Federation Account within the next three years.

Hon. Samuel Chinedu Nwuaso, who sponsors the bill, indicates when passed into law, it would help to intensify the anti-corruption crusade in the country.

ConsumerConnect recalls that a considerable number of political office holders, including ministers, governors, heads of MDAs, civil servants and personnel of various security agencies have been prosecuted for money laundering and corrupt practices in recent years.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had already secured convictions and various orders for interim and final forfeiture of assets worth several billions of Naira and multi-million Dollars from several corrupt.

Nigerian Tribune also reports Clause 1 of the bill gives ample opportunity for “any public officer, retired or serving who knowingly or otherwise appropriate or launders public funds shall make a disclosure of same before the appropriate government department.

“The disclosure may relate to fund deposited in any bank within or outside Nigeria.

“The disclosure may relate to fixed or immovable assets lying and situated within or outside Nigeria.”

Clause 2 of the bill further provides that: “Any public officer that makes such disclosure shall return such funds within a reasonable time to a dedicated account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to the proponent of the bill, Clause 3 of the bill, provides that “any public or civil officer who makes the disclosure and subsequent return, shall present to the appropriate government department programme(s) which such fund shall be utilised.

Clause 4(1-2) of the proposed legislation also provides that: “Where a public or civil officer return such appropriated or laundered funds, notwithstanding any law, he shall be entitled to automatic economic amnesty and the source(s) of such funds shall not be inquired into.

“The public officer or civil shall supervise the programmes to ensure compliance and to avoid diversion of the targeted output,” stated the bill.

Clause 5 of the bill, empowers appropriate government department (Federal Ministry of Justice, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation) to set time frame within which such disclosure and returns are made.

Provided that where the disclosure and returns are made after the lapse of time, the public officer shall not be entitled to economic amnesty thereof.

As proposed in Clause 6, the “Bill shall cease to apply three years after its commencement,” while the Minister shall provide regulations for giving effect to the economic amnesty Bill.

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