Over the last two decades, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies have recovered approximately N900 billion (about $2.2 billion) in looted assets, according to a new report by the pro-democracy group, the Centre for Democracy and Development.
The group chronicles significant achievements of the federal government’s leading agencies established to mitigate endemic corruption in Nigeria over the last two decades in the report titled, ’20 years of Anti-Corruption efforts in Nigeria.’
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau are the agencies whose activities are examined in the report (CCB).
The report praised anti-corruption agencies for their efforts in recovering stolen assets worth approximately N900 billion.
It attributed “the high rate of recovery” to anti-graft agency innovations such as plea bargain voluntary repayment of unexplained wealth and asset forfeiture, as well as “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration anti-corruption strategy.”
Over the last two decades, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies have also recovered approximately N900 billion in stolen assets.
Asset forfeiture, whether through a criminal conviction or civil action, has emerged as the primary mechanism for depriving corruption suspects of the material gain from their alleged financial or economic crime.
Asset recovery, while always a priority, has arguably been a cornerstone of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption strategy.
According to the report, “the EFCC now painstakingly seeks to identify assets from the start of any corruption investigation in order to freeze them and see if they can be linked to a defendant’s alleged predicate crimes.”
Concerns about the management of reclaimed assets, however, the report raised concerns about the management of recovered assets.
“However, the EFCC and ICPC’s ability to manage and dispose of those assets is being strained by the increasing rate of asset forfeiture.”
Seized items must be accounted for, managed, maintained, and/or safely stored until they can be auctioned or repurposed for public gain, whether they are buildings, active businesses, vehicles, or luxury goods.
“Unfortunately, many of these assets deteriorate before they can be sold, losing some or all of their value while agencies navigate bureaucratic and legal obstacles that prevent them from being quickly disposed of.
It did, however, commend the EFCC’s transfer of some recovered buildings to government agencies.
This, it claimed, demonstrated anti corruption agencies’ recognition of their failures in managing recovered assets.