The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyede, has called for the enactment of legislation against unexplained wealth as a crucial measure to curb the activities of treasury looters in Nigeria.
This appeal was made during a two-day International Law Conference organized by Christopher University in Mowe, Ogun State, under the theme “Unexplained Wealth in the Global South: Examining the Asset Recovery and Return Trajectory.”
Mr Dele Oyewale, the EFCC spokesperson, quoted Olukoyede as stressing the need for Nigeria to follow the example of other nations in adopting Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), a legislative tool utilized by countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago since its inception in 2018.
“The issue of unexplained wealth is not a local issue. There are jurisdictional legislations across the world to tackle it.
“To date, countries of the world are faced with criminalities emanating from money laundering practices and illicit funds. This circumstance led to the promulgation of Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWOs, that came into force in 2018.
“Several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius and African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean have come up with UWO. Nigeria is yet to come up with a national legislation on it,” he said.
Olukoyede, represented at the conference by the Abuja Zonal Commander, Assistant Commander of the EFCC, ACE1 Adebayo Adeniyi, highlighted the global nature of the issue, emphasizing the prevalence of money laundering and illicit funds worldwide.
He noted that the absence of national legislation on unexplained wealth in Nigeria hindered the EFCC’s efforts, leaving them to rely on Section 7 of its Establishment Act.
“In Nigeria today, unexplained wealth has become a practical means of tracing, identifying, investigating and prosecuting corruption cases.
“As an anti-graft agency, suspects of any economic and financial crimes are usually required to declare their assets in the course of an investigation.
“The basis for this is to properly establish their true asset base and their linkage or otherwise to any act of corruption.
“Owing to the absence of legislation on the issue of unexplained wealth, the EFCC continues to rely on provisions of Section 7 of its Establishment Act to handle it,” he said.