By Abiemwense Moru
Abuja – The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed through second reading a bill to establish the Nigerian Assets Management Agency.
The agency would be charged with the responsibility of managing all Federal Government owned assets including but not limited to assets acquired through court orders, forfeitures and seizures by federal agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Others are the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jones Onyereri (Imo-PDP) at plenary.
Leading debate on the bill, Onyereri said the purpose for the establishment of the agency was for proper management of all federal government owned assets whether exists or acquired through seizures, court orders and forfeitures.
The agency, according to him, will also ensure a proper co-ordination and enforcement of all federal government assets management legal regimes and enforcement powers conferred or any power or authority.
He explained further that the agency, if established, “will protect and enhance the long term economic values of those assets viz-a-viz effective management and disposal of federal government assets.
He said the agency would collaborate with other government agencies both within and outside Nigeria carrying out similar functions in order to identify and determine the whereabouts of federal government property located and situated in any part of the world.
“It will also coordinate all existing federal government assets units in Nigeria.”
Supporting the motion, Rep. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu-PDP) said that many assets seized by AMCON, EFCC, ICPC, Customs and other security agencies were often waste away.
He emphasised that the bill seeking the establishment of the agency to manage assets should be supported.
According to him, such an agency would keep proper records and custody of seized assets saying “we do not need seized assets to waste away”.
Also speaking in favour of the bill, Rep. Ahman Pategi (Kwara-APC) said the bill was timely because it would help in maintaining confiscated assets instead of allowing them to rot away when they could be put to better economic use.
Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (Abia-PDP) commended the sponsor of the bill and urged his colleagues to allow the bill to pass second reading so that a public hearing would be organized for stakeholders to make their inputs.
He said that the intention of the bill was in order and should be kept.
Also Rep. Aminu Suleiman (Kano-APC) kicked against the bill saying the establishment of such an agency was an unnecessary creation of new bodies.
He said “for me, I am totally and completely against any new agency”.
However, Rep. Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC) in his contribution cautioned that the bill needed to be fine-tuned.
He said that the intention of the bill was beautiful but the sponsors must be careful not to create confusion because agencies such as EFCC, ICPC, Police do seize assets with a court order.
He, however, said it should be passed for second reading so that more work would be done on it at the public hearing. (NAN)