The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act to allow the anti-graft agency to retain a part of funds and property it recovers from corrupt persons and organisations to run its operations.
If the bill is eventually passed by the National Assembly, the EFCC will be empowered to retain 0.05 per cent of its recoveries.
Part of the bill also proposed setting a limit to the duration a person can act as chairman of the commission, while the scope of qualifications for the chairmanship of the EFCC would be expanded to allow financial experts to head the anti-graft agency.
The bill is a consolidation of various bills separately sponsored by Messrs Nicholas Ossai, Tajudeen Yusuf, Olawale Raji and Kabiru Tukura.
The then acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had in October 2016 called for a review of Nigerian laws to enable anti-graft agencies in the country to retain a percentage of the loot recovered to fund their operations.
The bill is seeking an amendment to Section 35 of the EFCC Act by inserting new provisos immediately after the existing Subsection 2, which reads, “…Provided that 0.05 per cent of the sums of money and value of assets recovered from looted funds and proceeds of crime is credited to the funds of the commission to enable it to be more effective in the discharge of its responsibilities.
The bill also sought that should the Senate decline to confirm the appointment, the appointee will only act as chairman for not more than six months.
The bill might be trying to fill the lacuna in the controversial retention of Magu as acting chairman of the EFCC.
The Senate in the 8th National Assembly had twice rejected the appointment of Magu as Chairman of the EFCC in 2017, based on a damning report on him by the Department of State Services.
Magu had remained acting chairman of EFCC until 2020 when he was suspended after a presidential probe into his activities.
The bill may also allow financial experts with proven integrity to become chairman of the anti-graft agency.
The bill is specifically seeking to amend Section 2(1) Paragraph (a)(ii) of the EFCC Act by deleting the entire paragraph and replacing it with a new one that reads, “…be a person of recognised financial experience with proved integrity in financial crimes control whether in the public or private sector and committed to the fight against corruption.”
In the last National Assembly, the House had proposed that the qualification for the chairmanship of the EFCC be raised from Commissioner of Police to Assistant Inspector-General of Police.
The parliament had also expanded the qualification to include a legal practitioner of no less than 20 years experience.
The House had also removed the Secretary of the EFCC from tenured offices in the leadership of the commission.
The passage of the bill had followed the adoption of the report by the House Committee on Financial Crimes.