The House of Representatives took steps on Thursday to strip the President of the powers to order the forfeiture of moveable and immovable assets and to vest such powers in the courts.
The House passed for second reading a Bill seeking to Amend of the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) Act Cap. C43, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to give discretionary powers to the judge of a High Court to order forfeiture of assets of culpable persons.
Leading a debate on the general principles of the Bill, its sponsor and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase said the discretionary powers previously granted to the President by the Principal Act would be replaced by that of a High Court judge to align it with the spirit of the Constitution as such powers could be abused by the President.
The Deputy Speaker averred that the provision for forfeiture in the laws is geared towards ensuring that persons found guilty of offences do not benefit from the proceeds of those offences.
He added that the doctrine of forfeiture is regulated by several legal regimes captured in various laws, such as The Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap C15, LFN, 2004; Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provision Act, Cap F34 LFN, 2004; Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2, 2004; EFCC Act, Cap E4, 2004, among others.
Wase noted that Section 9 of the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) Act, which was first enacted in 1971, contains a provision on forfeiture which vests the discretion to order forfeiture of movable and immovable property in the President of the Federal Republic.