The Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari on 5th July 2018 signed the Executive Order 6 of 2018 (EO6) on the preservation of suspicious asset recovered from corrupt officials. This is part of the anti-graft drive by the Federal Government to stamp out corruption in the country.
According to the President, the order was issued to “restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes”.
The executive order reinstates the Federal Government’s commitment to fighting corruption in the country. The current government came into power on the promise of fighting corruption that has been endemic in the country. This has seen the government introduce policies like the Enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), Implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy, Whistleblowing Policy, and Signing of the Open Government Partnership amongst other initiatives to stem the tide of the scourge.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ORDER
This will henceforth prevent persons guilty of corruption from continuously holding and controlling asset acquired from proceeds of corruption. Any government official or any person acting directly or indirectly acting for such official who engages in corrupt practices or misappropriation of government asset, such asset shall be forfeited and such official will subject to disciplinary action under the Public Service Rule and Code of Conduct Bureau. Any official found circumventing or preventing the implementation of the order or perverts justice shall be prosecuted. Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Federal Government in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation are to identify and adopt best practices and develop strategies for the implementation. Federal Government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that the ends of justice are not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.
It is believed the executive order will improve the country’s posture and tide in its fight against corruption. The Federal Government should consider revisit the Proceeds of Crime Bill initiated by the 7th National Assembly which seeks to provide for effective legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of the proceeds of crime or benefits derived from unlawful activities. The Bill would see the establishment of Crimes recovery and management agency saddled with the responsibility to acquire, hold, purchase, mortgage and deal howsoever with property, movable or immovable, real or personal assets.
The authors are of the opinion that the order might be challenged in the face of the provisions of the constituiton, and for forfeiture already contained in the Economic and Financial Crimes Act and other relevant statutes.
Lastly, corporations will need to be more careful in dealing with government officials. Their corporate culture should be fully immersed in strong compliance with their Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) policy.