The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has called for the urgent passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill before the National Assembly.
Mr Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation, who made the call on Wednesday, said the passage of the bill would greatly assist the government in its anti-corruption campaign.
He spoke in Lagos at a National Seminar on Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Recovery of Stolen Assets in Nigeria : Proposals for Reform.
The seminar was organised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, in collaboration with Ford Foundation of the United States.
Mr Malami, represented by his Special Adviser, Abiodun Aikhomu, noted that the Federal Government was committed to the recovery of all stolen public funds, including those taken outside the country by looters.
“The Proceeds of Crime Bill, when it eventually becomes law, will help to combat corruption.
“We believe that the bill will be passed and it will become operational in Nigeria very soon. It is well structured to facilitate quick recovery of assets acquired illegally,” he said.
He, however, enjoined Nigerians to key into the anti-corruption war by taking advantage of policies like the Whistle Blower Law to report corrupt public officials with illicitly acquired assets.
Similarly, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Properties, Okoi Obono-Obla, Chairman, said the government had demonstrated resolve to tackle the corruption menace.
“My appeal to Nigerians is for them to work with the panel. You need to give us information on assets that have been taken out of the country by public officers or using shell companies,” Mr Obono-Obla said.
He said the panel would not entertain any sacred cow, adding that it had the power not only to investigate public officers but people in the financial sector.
On his part, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, claimed that assets and stolen public funds from Nigeria outside the country was over a $100 billion.
Mr Falana noted that no other government had demonstrated resolve to tackle corruption like that of President Muhammadu Buhari and urged the government to intensify efforts to recover the looted funds.
On the proceeds of crime bill, he advised the executive to bye-pass the National Assembly like it did with the setting up of special courts to handle high profile corruption cases which was recently constituted by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Earlier, the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the seminar was organised to assist the government with recommendations on how to recover stolen assets.
Mr Mumuni said: “We will like to see a more structured and organised system of asset recovery.
“Nigerians cannot be hearing that monies are being recovered but they need something tangible to be done with the recovered funds.”