The beginning of the year was occasioned with various seizures, forfeitures and confiscation of items by law enforcement authorities derived from unlawful activities. For instance, in February, Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court ordered the final forfeiture of 24 properties worth N10.9 billion belonging to a top military officer held by fronts and proxies to the officer. Also in the same February, the EFCC announced that it had secured an interim forfeiture of two landed properties worth over N104 million belonging to one Aminu Sidi Garunbaba, a staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
However commendable, in reality there have been no commensurate results with the efforts put in by the government as while a number of the applications were granted, there are still quite a number of applications before the court seeking orders for forfeitures. In addition to this, the lack of an institutional framework for the recovery and management of proceeds of crime, absence of non-conviction based forfeiture laws, deterioration or loss of value of assets derived from unlawful activities, lack of expertise in and the prohibitively expensive process of asset tracking and limited interagency cooperation domesticaLly and internationally in aid of such efforts have brought about a gap between the efforts put in by the government officials and the results. Thus, in a bid to ensure the accountability and transparency of funds and properties recovered by anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assented to the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery Act) 2022 on May 12, 2022.
The Act comprises ten (10) parts, eighty-three (83) sections and a schedule. The Act amongst other things aims to provide an effective legal and institutional framework for the recovery and management of the proceeds of crime, benefits derived therein, instrumentality of unlawful activities and unclaimed properties reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime. The Act also makes provisions for the restraint, seizure, confiscation, and forfeiture of property derived from unlawful activities and any instrumentalities used or intended to be used in the commission of such unlawful activities.
This paper seeks to examine and review the salient innovations introduced by the Act.