ICPC chair urges CCB to publicise public officers’ asset declarations
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has called for the publication of asset declared by public and civil servants by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The chairman of the commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, said the step would help to curb corruption in the public sector.
A statement issued on Thursday by the commission’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said Mr Owasanoye made the call during a meeting with the chairman and board members of CCB.
The ICPC boss said the secrecy surrounding the declaration of assets by public and civil servants was aiding corruption.
“Publicising asset declaration will assist the whistle-blowing policy and our work. We have not been able to take full advantage of asset declaration because of the opacity around it. If somebody lied about his or her assets, he or she can be found out by just the opening of the page where it has been published.
I want to encourage the bureau to push for that because the public will help us to do our work. They will tell us who owns what assets and whether it is proportionate to their earnings,” Mr Owasanoye, a professor of law, said.
The Nigerian constitution and the CCB/Code of Conduct Tribunal Act make it mandatory for public officers and civil servants across the levels of government to periodically declare their assets.
The CCB generally denies requests by Nigerians to have access to the details of assets declared by public officers.
The bureau recently explained that it refuses to honour citizens’ requests for such information because the National Assembly had yet to give the guidelines for such public disclosure.
But Mr Owasanoye said the opacity surrounding asset declarations had added to the problem of insecurity and underdevelopment facing the nation.
Digitising assets declaration
He encouraged the bureau to review and revise the Assets Declaration Form to include information that could help to track information such as the Banking Verification Number (BVN), and new forms of investments such as cryptocurrency.
Mr Owasanoye also urged the bureau to start digital declaration of assets as against the old manual declaration method, saying that it would help in the easy tracing and analysis of assets as well as enable CCB to furnish government with information on the lifestyles of both public and civil servants.According to him, “If you digitise asset declaration, it will help you to reach everybody under your cover. It is easily analytical and help you to know what asset the public servant owes.
“It will enable you to inform the government about the status of public servants, whether they are doing badly or not.”
The ICPC boss, while offering the forensic platforms of the commission to the CCB, added that ICPC was willing to assist the bureau with capacity building programmes for its staff.
He also expressed the hope that CCB would be active in asset recovery as an enforcement measure. He added that public servants who lived beyond their legitimate income must have their illegally acquired assets taken away from them.
CCB chair speaks
Earlier, the Chairman of CCB, Muhammad Isah, also a professor of law, called for synergy between the anti-corruption agencies, noting that the problem of corruption cannot be successfully tackled by one agency.
The synergy, according to him, should extend to not dabbling into the investigation of any petition that is already being handled by any other anti-corruption agencies.
“In the areas of overlapping function, who starts the investigation of a petition first should be allowed to conclude. The others should stop investigating the same matter to avoid wastage of resources. There is no need to over-engage ourselves by doing the same thing,” he said.
Mr Isah also maintained that CCB was willing to share information on assets declaration with ICPC to aid its investigations.
The bureau chairman while speaking on the tracking of executive and constituency projects by ICPC said it was a laudable initiative that has taken out corruption and brought development closer to Nigerians.
“The CEPTG is proactive in nature rather than reactive and it is helping the people. We look forward to copying from you,” he said.