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Rep Seeks 20-year Jail Term for Financial Crimes

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House of representatives
  • Rep Seeks 20-year Jail Term for Financial Crimes

The House of Representatives wants persons convicted of economic and financial crimes to be jailed for 20 years.

This is part of the details of the new amendments to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004, which was obtained on Sunday.

The Act currently prescribes a penalty of “not less than two years” for economic and financial crimes.

Lawmakers consider this to be “lenient” for the serious crime of stealing public money or other forms of financial crimes.

Four consolidated bills before the House are seeking to further empower the EFCC to fight crime, insulate the anti-graft agency from interference by the Presidency and enhance its financial autonomy.

One of the bills, which was sponsored by a member from Cross River State, Mr. Bassey Ewa, proposes to raise the two-year term for economic and financial crimes offenders to 20 years.

In the new bill, Section 18 of the Principal Act is amended to prescribe tougher punishments for economic and financial crimes.

The new subsection (C) reads: “All convicted persons shall serve an imprisonment of a term not less than 20 years and have their ill-gotten property, accounts or investment confiscated by the government.”

The new proposal also states that plea bargaining or returning the full amount stolen does not exclude the convict from penalty.

Subsection (d) adds, “Where the accused person, upon investigation, accepts to refund the total amount standing in his/her name and willing to plea bargain, he or she shall be convicted for not less than two years.”

Similarly, a company found guilty of economic or financial crimes, will be barred from doing business in Nigeria for 50 years.

This is captured under subsection (e), which states that, “Any company found guilty of offences under this Act, both its assets and finances shall be frozen and the company blacklisted from doing business in Nigeria for 50 years.”

Another key amendment seeks to remove the power of appointing the Chairman of the EFCC from the President and to be vested directly in the hands of Nigerians.

Under the extant provisions, the President appoints the chairman and forwards the name to the Senate for approval.

But in the new amendment, members of the public, through a petition to the National Assembly, are empowered to make the appointments.

For example, Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended to insert new subsections (4) and (5).

The proposed subsection 4 reads: “Petitions against the Chairman or any of the members of the EFCC emanating from the public or the private sector shall be submitted to the National Assembly.

“If upon investigation and found culpable, a simple majority vote of members of the National Assembly is required in considering the fate of the chairman or any of the affected member.”

Subsection (5) provides that the resolution, when passed, will be forwarded to the President, who shall within 30 days, either accept the resolution or reject it.

The section empowers the National Assembly to override the President’s veto with a “two-thirds majority vote” of senators and members of the House of Representatives.

To make the EFCC financially autonomous, the House proposes in Section 35 of the Act that the commission should retain “0.1 per cent” of recovered looted funds.

It is also to retain “0.1 per cent” of its Internally-Generated Revenue.

Another “0.1 per cent” of contracts awarded by the Federal Government is to the credited to the account of the commission.

Also we obtained the details of amendments proposed to the Act by the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Mr. Kayode Oladele.

Oladele’s bill, “A Bill for an Act to Amend the EFCC Act, 2004 to Enhance Effectiveness of the Act, and for other Related Matters,” seeks to grant full autonomy to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.

When contacted, Ewa explained why he sought harsher punishment for economic thieves.

He said, “This provision of two years imprisonment, is mild and it should be raised to not less than 20 years. This will deter public servants from stealing money.

“If your are 40 years old and you know that you will be 60 years by the time you are out of jail, you will have some fear in you and think about your children.

“But to say two years is to encourage stealing the more because people say after all, it is only two years.”

The four bills passed second reading last week at a session presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses

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Minibus - Investors King

The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.

The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.

Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.

The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.

He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.

In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.

At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”

 

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2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari

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AFRICOM HQ

The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.

This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.

King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.

She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.

“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”

It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

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