The senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi has challenged his colleagues and other Nigerians who have held public office in the past and at present to give account of how they acquired their properties.
He spoke while seconding a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and Enact the Money laundering (Prevention. And Prohibition) Act to provide comprehensive legal and institutional framework for prevention and prohibition of money laundering in Nigeria.
The bill which is also seeking to establish the Special Control Unit under the money and Financial Crimes Commission and for other related matters, 2021 (SB. 789) scaled second reading sponsored by Umar, Sadiq Suleiman (Kwara North).
Contributing during the debate, Senator Adeyemi who threw his weight in support of the bill, said the legislation when enacted, would allow government probe those who have held public offices with unexplained sources of monies and properties within and outside the country.
He said, “All those who have properties abroad who are seated here should account for how they acquired their properties
My position is very clear, let everybody give account and their children on how they acquired their properties
Seconding the bill he said it was important with the determination of the Ruling All Progressives Congress Government to fight corruption
“There is no doubt that the present Government has fought corruption than any Government in the history of this country.
“There is no doubt that billions of Dollars and pound sterling have been siphoned away from our system to foreign countries especially by those who have held political office in time past.
“In seconding this bill I want to say we must also look at how we can enlarge the net in apprehending those who have siphoned money from this country.
“In essence this bill must take into consideration public office holders and their immediate families who have properties abroad to give account of how they acquired these properties.
“This country many people who have held public offices in time past siphoned money abroad where they acquired properties in the names of their wives and their children .
“I want to submit that there is a need to do an X-Ray of all those who have held office in this Nigeria to look at how they have acquired their properties and their children and families, that is the only way we can be seen to be fighting corruption.
“Any public office holder in the past and present who have properties abroad and their children and their wives. It is not out of place for this bill to be all encompassing so that we can know those who have acquired properties abroad with their children.
“Nigeria is bleeding now we must take the courage to ensure they release some of the properties they acquired. “I said this without any contradiction, I don’t have any property abroad neither my children. Anybody that has acquired properties who has held public office before should give account.
“Our country is bleeding, people are dying of poverty. Anybody that has property abroad should come out to tell us how they acquired those properties
“We said we are fighting corruption, President Buhari is determined we should support his Government”
The Senate considered two critical bills seeking to facilitate the swift prosecution of money launderers and terrorist financiers in Nigeria.
The bills when passed into law would also provide the needed framework for the prosecution of public servants with unexplained sources of wealth.
The bills are Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2021, and Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021.
Both bills which scaled second reading during plenary were sponsored by Senator Suleiman Umar (APC, Kwara North) and Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC, Kaduna North).
Leading debate on the general principles of the first bill, Senator Umar explained that the legislation seeks to repeal the extant Act and enact the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2021 to provide a more comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prevention and prohibition of money laundering in Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, the bill takes into consideration the changing patterns and manifestation of Money Laundering as an offense, which includes investment or funds transfer made or obtained fraudulently into legitimate businesses to make the illicit funds difficult to trace.
He explained further that the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UN-ODCCP) (1999) describes Money Laundering as the concealment or disguising of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement rights with respect to or ownership of property, knowing that such property is derived from an offense.
He, therefore, added that the bill when enacted, would provide the framework for the prosecution of public servants with unexplained sources of wealth.
Umar said, “Mr. President, my Distinguished Colleagues, many public servants who are entrusted with managing public funds for the benefit of the larger society are often accused of creating phantom companies, over-pricing of contracts, use of fronts to pay for contracts not executed or poorly executed while others have been accused of carting away huge sums of public funds and stashing it in foreign bank accounts.
“It is against this background that successive administrations paid attention to the prevention, prohibition and punishment of money launderers.”
The lawmaker gave some of the earliest legislations introduced in Nigeria to tackle the menace of money laundering to include: the Money Laundering (Exchange Control (Anti Sabotage) Decree No.7 1984; the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree No. 48 of 1989 (now CAP 29 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2003; and the Money Laundering Decree No.3 of 1995.
He noted that the defects and inadequacies of previous legislations on Money laundering led to a series of legislative reforms which culminated into the enactment of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
He said the Bill under consideration however seeks to repeal and enact to make provisions for a comprehensive and effective anti-money laundering legislation, taking into consideration the changing patterns and techniques now being employed by money launderers in today’s global village driven by technological advancement.
The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2021, and Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021, after consideration were both referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for further input.
The Committee which chaired by Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari, was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.