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Senate passes amended Proceeds of Crime Bill

THE Senate has passed a reworked version of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, after amending the provision of clause 74.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Senate had, on March 15, while relying on Orders 1(b) and 52(6) reconsidered its decision on clause 74 of the bill as passed.

The upper chamber had re-committed same to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

Chairman, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Committee, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, in his presentation said after the passage of the bill, series of reactions trailed its passage with respect to clause 74 which was amended in the course of deliberations.

He said, “In the original bill, clause 74 provides that, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the defendant in any proceedings under this Act bears the burden of proving that he is is legitimate owner of the assets suspected to be proceeds of crime or derived from unlawful activity or that the assets is of legitimate origin and is not proceeds of unlawful activity.”

The Senate, however, amended the clause during consideration to provide that: “The burden of proof shall be on the investigating agencies and there shall be conviction before the property can be finally seized or forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Opeyemi stated that the joint committee while engaging with the investigating agencies was told that maintaining the original provision of clause 74, as recommended was in the best interest of the country.

He said the agencies assured the committee that they would not abuse the powers conferred on them by the provision as they (agencies) were subject to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“As well as the guiding principles of Chapter IV on Human Rights in the 1999 Constitution as amended,” he said.

The lawmaker emphasised that one of the salient intendments of clause 74 was that it ensures the recovery of proceeds of crime with or without conviction.”

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