The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that it has the powers to dispose of the assets retrieved from late former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, the way it deemed fit.
In handing over a mansion in Abuja forfeited by Badeh to the Voice of Nigeria, the Commission said it acted within the law and in accordance with the guidelines on the management of forfeited properties.
The said forfeited property was one of the assets retrieved from the ex-CDS, who until his death in December last year, was being prosecuted by the EFCC in an N3.9billion money laundering case.
The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, in a statement in Abuja on Friday, averred that the Secretary of the anti-graft body was empowered by Section 31 of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004, to dispose of the forfeited property.
It said, “Section 31 of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 which deals with ‘Final Disposal of Forfeited Property,’ stipulates that ‘Upon receipt of a final order, pursuant to this section, the Secretary to the Commission shall take steps to dispose of the property concerned by sale or otherwise.’
“We, therefore, wish to state with a high sense of responsibility that there is no ambiguity regarding who has the power to superintend the disposal of forfeited assets. It is within the power of the Secretary to the Commission, and he duly exercised the powers of his office by handing the property to VON.”
The Commission pointed out that exceptions to the case were instances where judicial pronouncements are made by trial judges on how proceeds of crime were to be disposed of.
It cited the convictions of former governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, where their respective states were the beneficiaries of the forfeitures, noting that the trial judges explicitly ordered that their forfeited assets should be channelled back to their states, who were deemed the rightful owners.
“In Badeh’s case, the court’s verdict in the final forfeiture of the property was to the federal government and the judge understands that the Secretary to the Commission has the power to dispose of the asset by sale or otherwise.
“As a law enforcement agency, the Commission is guided by approved rules of engagement as it strives to deliver on its mandate,” the agency stated.
The Commission also kicked against calls for the signing of the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law, saying it would “not only cripple the operations and the efficiency of the EFCC but will jeopardize the anti-corruption drive of Mr President and reverse the gains already recorded by this administration.”
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