The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on Tuesday, expressed opposition to the planned creation of a new agency to manage assets seized from corruption and other criminal cases.
The agencies made their stance known in Abuja at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Banking and Currency on a bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Assets Management Agency (NAMA) to manage government assets, including those seized, forfeited or taken over by anti-graft and other federal security agencies.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, advised the House to either consolidate the bill with the Senate’s Proceeds of Crimes Recovery and Management Agency Bill or drop it.
Emefiele, who was represented by CBN Assistant Director, Legal, Mr Henry Forma, said the bill before the Senate appeared more comprehensive, adding that the two bills should be consolidated into one since they are similar.
He stated that issues covered in the Senate bill were duplicated in the bill being considered by the House.
“In view of the foregoing, it’s our recommendation that, in order to avoid an inevitable conflict that will arise if the Proceeds of Crime bill and the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Assets Management Agency were to be passed into law, the House committee should obtain and adopt the Senate bill which adequately covers all the matters contained in the (House) bill,” Emefiele said.
The CBN governor argued that since the nature of the asset recovery envisaged in the House bill was uncertain and unpredictable because of its dependent on the commission of crimes that may involve the recovery of stolen government assets or forfeiture of crime proceeds, it may not be financially prudent to establish an agency that may become at some point redundant and a waste of scarce public resources.
“The establishment of the agency would also add to the already bloated cost of governance in Nigeria.
“The House committee may wish to apportion the functions of the proposed agency to an existing agency of government with a structure that can accommodate the envisaged functions of the agency such as the EFCC,” he said.
In his submission, acting Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr Shettima Gana, who also opposed the establishment of the new agency, said the functions of the proposed agency should be transferred to Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) or the EFCC which already have existing structures.
He said that following government’s determination in 2011 to reduce the number of agencies, the establishment of a new agency to manage all assets seized, forfeited or taken over by federal security bodies would not only increase the cost of governance, but amount to duplication of the functions of an existing agency.
Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Jones Onyereri, explained that the idea behind the bill was to provide for an agency that would be responsible for taking and managing Federal Government’s owned assets.
He added that the assets included but not limited to assets acquired through court orders, forfeitures and seizures by federal agencies.
“Prior to now, such assets were scattered among different agencies without proper coordination as to their real value and earnings from disposal of such assets,” Onyereri said.
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