***Says the Army must be better Equipped with Sophisticated Weapons, Increased Personnel, better Funding for Insurgency to End
*** Says he does not Support Plea bargaining, those who steal must be punished
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – FORMER Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, sign an Executive Order on Unexplained Wealth as a powerful tool for financial investigation in the country.
According to him, Unexplained Wealth Order must be domesticated in Nigeria as obtained in the United Kingdom.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senator Ndume said that if the just confirmed Substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa will carry out his work effectively with results achieved, it has become very imperative for President Buhari to sign the Unexplained Wealth Order, UWO.
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Ndume stressed that the President should send the Order as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for approval, subsequent passage and signing into law.
Ndume said, ” Unexplained Wealth Order must be domesticated in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari should sign an Executive Order on Unexplained Wealth to enable the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa to work. If one is in a house more than his salary, government should go after such a person to explain how he got the money.
“Mr. President should send a Bill to that effect to the National Assembly to work on and pass.”
It will be recalled that from January 31, 2018, new powers enabled the UK Government to query “Unexplained Wealth” and seize assets whose funding source cannot be explained. The UK courts can grant Unexplained Wealth Orders and forfeit property for which the owners are unable to prove the source of fund. The properties will be transferred to the UK Government and sold to fund their law enforcement efforts.
The Senator who kicked against plea bargaining, said that he is totally against it and anyone in the country who steals Government irrespective of his or her position, must be brought to book and be dealt with to serve as deterrent to others.
Ndume said, ” I don’t support plea bargain, any one who steals Government money must be dealt with seriously.
On the new Service Chiefs, Ndume who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army said that there will be more synergy compared to the previous ones against the backstop that the new Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Air Staff are professional colleagues, they are family friends, dated back to their days at the Nigeria Defence Academy, NDA where they were class mates, the Chief of Naval Staff was their immediate junior.
He said, ” they will work together, we have a new hope. Soldiers should be given what they want, there will be peace. I have confidence in the new Service Chiefs. If we want the war to end quickly, the Nigeria Army must be better equipped, with sophisticated weapons, increased personnel and better and improved funding.”
They newly screened Service Chiefs by the Senate are Maj. Gen. Lucky Eluonye lrabor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff (COAS); Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS); and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka O. Amao,Chief of Air Staff (CAS).
Recall that the new Chairman of EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa had said on Wednesday that the anti- graft agency has the legal backing to investigate unexplained wealth.
During the screening, Senator Ali Ndume had asked the nominee about the powers of the EFCC to probe suspicious wealth.
Bawa has said: “Coincidentally, I am the Desk Officer of the Unexplained Wealth Order at the EFCC. This is because during the course of my career, particularly in the last five years, I am not aware of any detective at the EFCC that has worked closely with the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom (UK).
“So, I am fully aware about the Unexplained Wealth Order. But there are certain provisions in the EFCC establishment Act that more or less gave us these powers.
“Section 7, subsection 1b of the Act says the ‘commission has the power to cause investigation to be conducted into the properties of any person that appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and the extent of the properties are not justified by his source of incomes’.
“This means without any complaint, if it comes to our knowledge that you have amassed so much properties that are not justified by your source of income, the EFCC can ask questions
“That is what the simple definition of explanation regarding the Unexplained Wealth Order means. If you have this property, the U.K. will ask you what is this property for? If you explain that this is how you earned it; so be it. If you do not explain, then they can further their investigation to determine how you acquired it.
“So, I think that looking at this provision, we are covered for now until we see how other jurisdictions have carried on with this Unexplained Wealth Order.”