The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Friday, commenced the process of disposal of assets forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA) signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 12th of May, 2022, with a bid opening to select auctioneers.
In his opening remarks at the event, the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, OFR, who was represented by a Board Member of the Commission, Dr Louis Mandama mni, hailed the impact of the bill on the anti-corruption war and described it as a tool which brought clarity and purpose to the previously murky waters of asset recovery and management.
According to the Chairman, the unregulated structure surrounding forfeited assets often led to huge revenue loses which ultimately defeated the purpose of recovery.
He further stated that the Proceeds of Crime Act introduced a standardized procedure for management and disposal of forfeited assets, helped set up a governing directorate, and ensured that all processes were deliberated on and executed by professionals who were experts in relevant fields. This, according to him, promotes transparency and prioritizes corruption prevention.
The ICPC boss also highlighted the fact that each agency that recovers assets was responsible for the disposal of the forfeited assets and the process was tamper-proof as it instructs that all proceeds be lodged in a dedicated account, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria and accessible only at the discretion of the National Assembly and President of Nigeria.
In his words, “whatever is gotten at the end of this exercise, there is a dedicated account under the watchful eyes of the Central Bank of Nigeria in place already. Nobody has the powers to transfer or move anything out of that account only the National Assembly and the President”.
Still speaking on the bill, the ICPC boss revealed that ICPC has an Asset Recovery and Management manual which provides the guidelines to ensure all processes are governed and controlled. He also pointed out that the Commission had, in line with the POCA, set up a committee which comprised of board members, directors, representatives of labour, civil society organisations, media and Bureau of Public Procurement to administrate the bid process.
He expressed delight that the Commission amongst the first to carry out an auction based on the POCA and suggested that the success of the process would ultimately encourage other agencies to follow suit.
The bid opening process began with the opening and counting of submitted bids based on the lots which had been publicly advertised and were subject to stringent term and conditions. There were two lots available with 58 and 54 bids respectively.
Each box was meticulously processed with records being taken for accepted, returned and withdrawn bids.
The opening of technical bids was attended by ICPC Board Members, Dr. Grace Chinda and Senator Anthony Agbo, directors of the Commission, staff of relevant departments, bidders and external observers from the Bureau of Public Procurement and a civil society organization.