President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja assented to Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2019. The bill, which has now become an Act of the National Assembly, according to presidential liaison officer, Senator Ita Enang, seeks to obtain from other countries, on reciprocal basis, mutual assistance in the prosecution of criminal matters, including the location and identification of suspects, witnesses and other materials for prosecution of criminal matters.
He listed other objectives of the Act to include: the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property and other instrumentalities of crime. Other objectives of the Act, according to Enang, were the interception of telecommunications, conversion of electronic surveillance, the restraint of dealings in property, or the freezing of assets that may be recovered, forfeited or confiscated in respect of offences and other assistance that was not contrary to the municipal law of the requesting state.
Enang disclosed that the Act designates the Attorney -General of the Federation as the central authority to make, receive and transmit requests for assistance to and from other countries and as well perform other functions reserved in the Act. “Where the alleged offence is of a political character or an offence under military law or is not an offence under the laws of Nigeria, the provisions of this law shall not apply,” Enang explained. According to him, the law took effect from June 20, 2019.