Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), a civic group says the Witness Protection Bill, 2021 passed second reading in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday, January 25. The bill is sponsored by Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwai (APC: Kaduna).
This is coming President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the National Assembly, urging the federal legislators to consider and pass three Executive bills – the Witness Protection Bill, the Proceeds of Crime Bill and the Whistle Blower Bill.
According to President Buhari, the passage of these bills is important to strengthen Nigeria’s global profile, having been commended for its fight against corruption and in the light of some resolutions adopted at the Conference of States Parties United Nations Convention against Corruption held in Egypt, in December 2021.
For PLAC, the Witness Protection Bill mandates the creation of a Witness Protection system by public agencies with powers to investigate and prosecute offenders.
‘’These agencies are required to appoint a Witness Protection officer in their offices to manage and implement the program. The Witness Protection programme anticipates that all witness protection protocols, including identity protection or change are put in place to enable the success of the programme’’, the group said.
Continuing, it said ‘’in addition, there will be a Witness Protection Fund to be managed and controlled by the respective agencies, comprising funds appropriated by the National Assembly, funds approved by the President for the programme, monies from any fund or account established for the lodgement of proceeds of confiscation and forfeiture of assets.
‘’Funds from a percentage of the total amount recovered by the government by reason of the information provided by a protected person; and other subventions, grants, aid, donations from the Federal or State government and other sources.
‘’The Witness Protection Programme may be beneficial to the fight against corruption. However, a major concern is the level of integrity of systems in Nigeria’s institutions and the competence to manage a witness protection programme.’’