The Federal Government has officially launched a Central asset database initiative designed to trace, track and recover stolen assets. The Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF), Abubakar Malami SAN made this known at the programme tagged: ‘Formal launch of the Central Database under Asset Tracing, recovery and management Regulations 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2019, and Sensitization Workshop for stakeholders in Abuja, on 17th September, 2020 .
Delivering his speech at the occasion, Abubakar Malami SAN described the initiative as continual efforts and further commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to fighting corruption in the country.
He said the initiative was also targeted at deepening transparency in the asset recovery effort in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
Malami explained, “Apart from our involvement in the Open Government Partnership Initiative, anti-corruption agencies saddled with responsibilities have been given adequate support to succeed.
He disclosed that the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared its commitment in deploying technology to every nook and crannies of the Federation to enable the relevant stakeholder key into the 21st Century technology in Nigeria through Central Database.
The Minister pointed that this will enable the relevant stakeholder key into the 21st Century technology in Nigeria which guarantees transparency and ensures there is accountability on the part of public officers.
He expressed the Ministry’s readiness to work with the Judiciary at all levels, Anti-Corruption Institution at both the States and Federal levels and the Nigerian Police in order to run the information center real time.
“Let me state in addition to what the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary has said about the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS), the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS in order to ensure compliance” he explained.
In his opening remarks, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, SAN, disclosed that, the Central Database for assets recovery and Central Criminal Justice Information System are practical expression of the administration’s willingness to have a one-stop information centre where timely and verifiable information is sourced and provided to all Stakeholders, whether as private, public, local or international entity.
He said, “let me recall that, following the issuance of the asset tracing, recovery and management regulations on the 29th October, 2019 by the AGF, the need to put in place a centralized database for the storage of records of all recovered assets within and outside of Nigeria as contained in Section 3 of the ATRM Regulations, 2019 became obligatory for Nigeria. Hence, the AGF team worked tirelessly with minimal funding to develop these tools.”
Enumerating the objectives of the ATRM, Apata said, it is centralised asset depository for easy coordination for all Stakeholders with regards to asset Management. Most importantly, the Central Database for recovered assets compliments Central Criminal Justice Information System.
Speaking on National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), the Solicitor General of the Federation explained that, following the directives by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on 5th July, 2017, the Ministry under the HAGF developed a robust implementation plan for NACS. “Let me inform Stakeholders present here today that, Federal Ministry of Justice has developed Central Criminal Justice Information System under the NACS in line with ‘Pillar 1’ on prevention, with specific emphasis on strengthening the legal, institutional and operational framework designed to prevent and combat corruption”.
He therefore encouraged all relevant Stakeholders and Nigerians to never relent in fight against corruption for the battle requires perseverance.
In his good will message, the Speaker, House of Representatives, RT. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo said that the ATRM is a panacea to rekindling the value system of a nation.
He added that it is a core value of good governance and effective management of this venture will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices. He described the initiative as apt for the 21st century, assuring that NASS will continue to empower relevant agencies to recover looted assets via quality legislation.
In a short remark, the both acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), DCP Mohammad Umar and Professor Bolaji Owasanoye jointly described the initiative as a welcome development, saying they were ready to key into the initiative.
According to Umar, the initiative will enhance effective management of seized assets, saying the agency is already maintaining a database which contains all frozen or seized assets.
While commending the federal government, Owasanoye described the initiative as long overdue, saying apart from preventing any form of looting and re-looting of assets, the initiative will remain a key component of transparency and accountability.
The British High Commission through its representative, Andrew Clowes also pledged its partnership with the Nigeria government in the fight against corruption, describing it as a step forward. Also, in his goodwill message, the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr Anthony Ayine represented by Andrew Magaji lauded the Ministry on the initiative of ATRM.
He commended the HAGF for the memo presented to the Federal Executive Council on a bill to seek the approval of the Council to transmit to the National Assembly for passage into law “the proceeds of Crime and Management Agency Bill” which to him was a move in a right direction.
Also present at the event are; Representative of Inspector General of Police, FIRS Chairman, Muhammed Nani, Representative of UNODC and Civil Society Organisations and other relevant stakeholders.