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Nigeria: Asset Forfeiture Bill Proposed

(Sept. 25, 2008) It was reported on September 19, 2008, that the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has proposed a draft bill that establishes a civil legal regime for reclaiming unlawfully acquired public or private property. Under this bill, an application for forfeiture of illegally acquired assets could be brought before the appropriate court regardless of “whether or not a person has been charged or convicted of an offence.” (Anti-Graft Body Urges Stakeholders to Support Asset Forfeiture Bill, AFP, Sept. 19, 2008, Open Source Center No. AFP20080919565011.)

The bill, which seeks to create a disincentive to criminals by denying them the enjoyment of the proceeds of their crimes, will also retroactively target former and sitting presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors, a category of individuals otherwise immune from criminal prosecution under section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution. According to the bill, individuals targeted under its provisions will have the burden of proving the legitimacy of the means through which their assets were acquired. (Chiawo Nwankwo, EFCC Seeks Power to Seize Assets of Sitting Presidents, VPs, Govs, PUNCH ON THE WEB, Aug. 17, 2008 (on file with author).)