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FG begins recovery of looted public property

Chief Okoi Obono-Obla SA On Prosecution to the President and Chairman, Special Presidential Committee on investigation and recovery of stolen properties 
By Tunde Oyesina

In a bid to step up its anti-graft war, the Federal Government had begun the recovery of public property acquired through illegal means by public office holders. The Federal Government had, under the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, set up a committee to kickstart the recovery.

The committee has as its chairman, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono- Obla, and the Rule of Law Advisor to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Gbolahan Adeniran as Secretary.

According to Obono- Obla, the panel is premised on a law that has been in existence nearly 33 years, but which successive governments have never demonstrated the will to enforce because they did not see corruption as a cancer, scourge and clog that should be fought resolutely and squarely.

 “The kudos should go to this government that has shown the will, resolve and determination to fight corruption,” he stated.

The Act, on which the panel is expected to work, provides for the investigation of the assets of any public officer who is alleged to have been engaged in corrupt practices, unjust enrichment of himself or any other person who has abused his office or has, in any way, breached the Code of Conduct for Public Officers contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Act, which has its commencement date as December 31,1983, also provides for investigation of assets of public officers.

It is to ascertain whether any public officer has been engaged in corrupt practices or has corruptly enriched himself or any other person; or has, by virtue of abuse of his office, contributed to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, or has in any other way been in breach of the Code of Conduct.

It is based on such discovery that the President may constitute a panel to conduct an investigation into any matter with which the officer has been concerned in the performance of his duties or to conduct an investigation into the assets of any such public officer.

The panel is also to go after any public officer who has engaged in corrupt practices or has corruptly enriched himself by virtue of abuse of his office contributed to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Other public officers that may fall victim are those found to have, in any other way, been in breach of the Code of Conduct; or has attempted, aided, counselled, procured or conspired with any person to commit any of the offences set out in this section, at any time after September 30, 1979.

Such public officers shall be guilty of an offence under the Act, and upon conviction shall, apart from any other penalty prescribed by or pursuant to any other provision of this Act, forfeit the assets, whether movable or immovable property connected with the commission of the offence, to the Federal Government.

The powers of the panel, among others, is to issue a notice to declare assets as in Form A in the Schedule to the Act to be served on any public officer together with a form of declaration of assets as in Form B in the Schedule, which the said officer so served shall complete and return to the panel within 30 days after receipt thereof, or within such extension of the period as may be approved by the panel.
President Muhammadu Buhari 3890756791406299859

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