THE House of Representatives on Wednesday passed for the second reading a bill that sought to give Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC more power to function, and as well to create financial crimes court to adjudicate on financial crimes cases.
The consolidated bill which among other things also proposed 20 years jail term for any public servants engaged in economic and financial crimes while serving the country.
The consolidated bill was sponsored by, Honourables Bede Uchenna Eke, Bassey Ewa, Oladipupo Adebutu and Kayode Oladele.
Honourable Ewa while leading the debate on the consolidated bills told his colleagues that, the amendment sought to strengthen the commission by creating “more stringent ways of removing members and chairman of the board”.
He added that, the bill is also seeking to ” establish an asset confiscation and recovery unit and “a financial Investigation and Intelligence Unit” for the commission.
Speaking further, he said that, “The EFCC Act is further amended to establish an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Court to handle all cases emanating from investigations carried out by the EFCC bothering on financial crimes. The court so established shall have divisions in the six geo-political zones of the country”.
On the composition of the court, he said, “The EFCC court shall consist of judge, a retired permanent secretary, with cognate experience of not less 15years on financial and procurement matters, a forensic financial expert with cognate experience not less than 17years and the court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court or tribunal on economic and financial crimes matters”.
He further stressed that “the court shall within 180days dispense with any matter that is properly brought before it as appeals emanating from it shall only lie to the Court of Appeal and the court of Appeal shall within 90days dispense with any matter brought before it from the judgment of EFCC Court.
On penalty for anyone found wanting, he said that, the bill sought to, “Amend Section 18 of the Act that deals with penalties to increase the term of sentence to be not less than 20years imprisonment (from the present provision of not less than 2years and not exceeding 3years and establish a plea bargain system whereby if the accused decides to plea-bargain by refunding the looted funds by him his sentence shall not be less 2 years”.
The bill according to him, sought to amend “Section 35 of the Act” in a bid to shore up the revenue base of the commission by deleting the whole section and in its place, replaced with the following: “0.1percent of the total value of contracts awarded by the Federal Government shall be credited to the commission’s account; 0.1percent of the internally generated revenue of the Federal Government shall be credited to the commission’s account and 0.1 percent of the sums of money recovered from the looted funds shall be retained by the commission”.
Hon. Ossai in his contribution said that there was need to amend the constitution before a special court can be establish to tackle cases of financial crimes.
The chairman House committee on Financial Crimes, Hon. Kayode Oladele, in his contribution said that “there is an existing bill that deals with special courts for corrupt people that needed to be further consolidated with this one, saying, that, “there is need for us to bring all the special crimes such as cybercrime, terrorism, financial crimes together into one so that the special court can be fully operational”.
The bill scaled through second reading when it was put to vote by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and subsequently referred the bill to House committee on Financial Crimes.