CCB THREATENS TO ARREST MINISTERS, GOVERNORS OVER FALSE DECLARATION OF ASSETS

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) yesterday threatened to prosecute any serving governor or minister found to have falsified or refused to declare their assets. The Chairman of the Bureau, Prof. Isa Mohammed, stated this in Abuja at the opening session of a three-day retreat for board members, management and state directors of the Bureau. Mohammed, who took over the leadership of the CCB in November 2018, maintained that nothing will stop him from prosecuting defaulting serving governors and ministers, once it is established that they failed to properly declare their assets as prescribed by the law. “As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that can stand on my way from prosecuting anyone that is found guilty,” he stated.

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Addressing participants, the CCB Chairman stated the essence of the retreat was to bring the management board and state directors of the establishment together to brainstorm and re-appraise some challenges that have hindered the Bureau from effectively executing its statutory mandate of entrenching probity in public service. According to him, “Idea of a retreat between the management board and the state directors is so that we can sit down and tell ourselves the truth on why the CCB has not been able to perform over the 30 years that it has been in existence.” He further noted that before corruption became pervasive in Nigeria, the CCB was already in place, saying it was established by the 1979 Constitution and restated in the 1999 Constitution. “All its mandates and the enabling Act is there in place as well as other extant laws, to ensure effective compliance and implementation of the Code of Conduct for public officers in Nigeria. But up till now, we are still having enormous challenges.” On alleged refusal of the Bureau to grant the public access to asset declaration forms that were submitted by some public officials, including ministers currently serving in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, the CCB boss said the issue would get due consideration.

“We are going to study and see how far we can tackle this challenge. When we came in, we met an installed system. That is why we are here. At the end of this retreat, every bit of problem is going to be discussed and we are going to see a lot of improvements,” he stated. When asked if there are plans to refer any serving governor or minister to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for prosecution, as was done in the case of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, the CCB Chairman said he would not hesitate to do so, once anyone of them is found culpable. “In the first place, I am not a politician. From my background, I am an academician; I have never done any work except legal practice and in the academia. These are the only two jobs I ever did before I came into the CCB. “As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that can stand on my way from prosecuting anyone that is found guilty,” he added. Earlier in a keynote address he presented at the event, Mohammed said there was need for every staff of the CCB “to brace up to the task ahead”.

“The theme for this year’s retreat is, ‘The Role of Code of Conduct Bureau in the Prevention of Corruption in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects.’ It was carefully chosen in order to enable us take stock of where CCB is, what we are doing right or wrong and where we ought to be. “The challenges facing CCB are quite enormous, but it is my firm belief that this retreat provides an opportunity to come up with a strategic roadmap to address all these. “…At this juncture, let me reaffirm that the prospects of CCB becoming a reference point in the anticorruption war of the present regime are bright and within reach. Thus, the need for all hands to be on deck to drive this renewed impetus. “With God on our side, the sky should not just be the limit, but the stepping stone to greatness.”