The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB are to strengthen their collaboration in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Speaking on Friday, June 18, 2021, while receiving a delegation from the CCB led by its chairman, Professor Isah Mohammed in his office, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, promised to assist the CCB in training staff of the Bureau in the areas of administration, assets tracing and recovery as well as forensic investigation.
He also offered CCB access to the Commission’s Forensic Laboratory for analysis pending when it is able to establish her own laboratory. “We have a full-fledged Forensic Laboratory that can assist you rather than venture into something that will further burden the budget,” he said.
The offer was in response to the request by the CCB chairman, who specifically called for EFCC’s assistance to the Bureau in the areas of assets tracing and recovery, forensic investigation, and collaborative investigation.
The EFCC boss said officials from the Commission’s Academy will visit the CCB to carry out a training needs assessment which will assist them in designing programmes that will suit the needs of the CCB.
Bawa commended the CCB for her response to requests for assets declaration forms of politically exposed persons by the Commission. He however appealed that the process be further expedited. “We have this problem of delay in response. We understand that some of these forms are being declared at state level but we still believe that it takes too long a time for us to receive these responses”, he said.
The EFCC chairman further advised the CCB to explore the possibility of revising the assets declaration form to eliminate gaps that are currently exploited by public officers to withhold information on their assets.
To enhance the seamless partnership between the agencies, Bawa requested that the CCB designate an officer who will handle requests from the EFCC.
In his remarks, Prof. Mohammed commended Bawa “for the brilliant way he approaches matters”, adding that they were at the EFCC “to collaborate and make sure that the fight against corruption succeeds.”
Reflecting on the history of his agency as the pioneer anti-graft agency in Nigeria, the CCB chair lamented that despite its age, CCB was the most challenged among the anti-corruption agencies in terms of funding.
He however dispelled the notion that the Bureau was secretive in its handling of assets declaration forms of public officers, adding that it had always responded to requests from relevant agencies. “We have nothing to hide, and we are working with all the anti-corruption agencies with transparency. Whatever information that is requested is given to public institutions,” he said.
Three members of the Code of Conduct Bureau and a member of the Police Service Commission were on Wednesday sworn in during the first Federal Executive Meeting (FEC) of 2021.
The members include Ehiozuwa Johnson Ogbonayinma, Babatunde Olayinka Balogun, and Benedict Umeano for the Code of Conduct Bureau and Onyemuche Nnamani of the Police Service Commission.
The FEC meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari virtually had in attendance Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Nine Ministers were physically attending the meeting, they are Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Police Affairs, Muhammadu Dingyadi and Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Others are Ministers of Education, Adamu Adamu, Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, Environment, Muhammad Mahmood and Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and other Ministers are participating in the weekly council meeting from their various offices in Abuja.
Also, before the commencement of the meeting, a minute silence was observed in honour of two former Ministers, Jubril Martins Kuye and Bala Kaoje, who died recently.
Kuye, who was Minister of Finance from 1999-2003 and later Minister of Commerce from 2010-2011. He died on Sunday 17th January 2021, at the age of 78.
While Bala Kaoje, who died on Tuesday 19th January, at the age of 60, was Nigeria’s Minister of Sports in 1999.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has summoned the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
Magu is expected to appear before the bureau on November 17 with documents of all his landed properties.
In a letter dated November 2 and signed by CCB’s Director of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, the bureau directed Magu to produce acknowledgement slips of all the asset declarations he made since he joined public service with all documents of certified true copies.
The other documents the suspended EFCC boss was ordered to make available to the bureau, including copies of his appointment letter, acceptance, records of service and pay slips from January to May 2020, and documents pertaining to both his developed and undeveloped landed properties.
This comes about four months after Magu was suspended from office over the probe of the activities of the anti-graft agency under his watch.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo have been asked to provide information on the summary of the assets, specifically property and income as contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
In a Freedom of Information requests sent by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to the Presidency, also captured the 36 state governors and their deputies, urging them to use their good offices to clarify within 7 days of receiving the FoI request.
According to a statement by SERAP, the FoI requests dated 3 January 2020 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “The Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is part of our laws, read together, impose transparency obligations on all public officials to publicly disclose information concerning their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to clarify any updated review of such assets.”
SERAP said: “The summary of assets to be disclosed include, where applicable, the following: savings and other liquid assets, all immovable property and shares and actions in any private and public companies; property purchased by way of tender from any public-law entities and information about businesses owned.”
The organisation said the non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets seriously undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations.
Specifically FoI request to President Buhari, SERAP noted his “public promise to make specific details of your assets public, and urge you to consider this FoI request as a unique opportunity to fulfill the promise made to the Nigerian people.
“We would also like you to clarify if you have encouraged members of your cabinet to also submit their asset declarations to the CCB and to make such declarations public. If so, we would like you to provide information on the details of those that have made submissions.
“We would also like you to clarify whether a declaration has been submitted as constitutionally and statutorily required, the date of any such submission and if you have received any confirmation of the verification of your asset declaration by the CCB.”
Human rights group the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has condemned the decision of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to deny its request demanding specific details of assets declaration submitted to it by successive Presidents and State Governors since 1999.
The Bureau reportedly based its denial on the argument that releasing such information would amount to an invasion of privacy of Presidents and state Governors since an asset declaration form is private information.
SERAPs Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, insisted in a statement that the denial for a Freedom of Information is contrary to the fact that Presidents and Governors are public officers and a breach of settled constitutional and international principles.
Freedom of Information is a fundamental right. The contents of asset declarations by successive presidents and state governors do not amount to private information, as presidents and governors are public officers under part II, fifth schedule to the 1999 constitution.
Following the denial, the group has threatened to challenge the decision by the CCB in court.
Declarations of assets are constitutional commitments imposed only on public officers, and made by virtue of occupying entrusted public positions and offices. Therefore, details provided in any such asset declaration forms are public information, and not private information.
Also, the National Assembly, having been constitutionally vested with power by paragraph 3[c], Third Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, to make laws on this subject matter, has since prescribed the mode for inspection of asset declarations by the passage of Freedom of Information Act in 2011.
That’s why we’re going to court to challenge the decision by the CCB denying our FOI request, and refusing to provide details of asset declarations by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999. Make no mistake: The CCBs refusal to disclose these details is a breach of settled constitutional and international principles, plain and simple, SERAP added.
CCB in a letter by its Chairman Dr. Muhammed Isah, stated that: Paragraph 3(c) of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) empowers the Bureau to retain custody of asset declaration and make them available for inspection by any citizen on such terms and conditions to be prescribed by the National Assembly. These terms and conditions are yet to be prescribed.
Assuming the Freedom of Information Act is the term and condition, Sections 12(1) (v) and 14(1) (b) of the Act makes information in the asset declaration form private and producing such information would be an invasion of privacy of presidents and governors. Section 14(2)(3) of the same Act stipulate conditions for granting requests for private information but these have not been met by SERAPs application.
Consequently, I am further directed to convey to you that the request in SERAPs application for information on details of asset declarations by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999 is hereby denied on the grounds that it falls short of the requirement of the law. Please accept the assurances of the highest esteem of the Chairman CCB.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written to the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Muhammed Isah, seeking details of asset declarations of Presidents and state governors from 1999 till date.
In a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group is seeking information on the “details of asset declarations by successive presidents and state governors between 1999 and 2019, including details of declarations made immediately after taking offices and thereafter, and for those who have left public offices, at the end of their term of office.”
“Information is also sought on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, by the Bureau,” the statement read in part.
While commending the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) judgment by on Justice Walter Onnoghen, SERAP, however, appealed for the enforcement of constitutional provisions on asset declarations by public officers.
According to the group, this is to cover elected officers and to vigorously pursue the prosecution of any such officers.
“While judicial corruption is bad, the level of corruption involving many politicians since 1999 and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators is equally appalling. Publishing the asset declarations of elected public officers since the return of democracy in 1999 to date would improve public trust in the ability of the Bureau to effectively discharge its mandates. This would, in turn, put pressure on public officers like presidents and state governors to make a voluntary public declaration of their assets.
“SERAP is concerned that many politicians hide behind the fact that members of the public do not have access to their asset declarations to make false declarations and to cover up assets illegally acquired in corruption or abuse of office. The CCB can use the opportunity presented by the Onnoghen judgment to increase the accountability of politicians through the asset declaration provisions if it is not to be accused of witch-hunting the judiciary.
“The grim condition of many of our citizens since 1999 has been worsened by the deterioration of public services whereby access to clean water and affordable health-care has become a pipe dream and the supply of electricity became epileptic and irregular due to years of grand corruption by many politicians at the highest level of government.
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.
“The persistent refusal by successive presidents and state governors to make public their asset declarations is entirely inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution and has been particularly harmful to the country and its people, especially given the widespread evidence of grand corruption among politicians holding public offices in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) seeks to prevent corruption and abuse of office through its provisions on the declaration of assets not just by judicial officers but by all public officers including elected officers like presidents and governors”.
SERAP believes that while elected public officers may not be constitutionally obliged to publicly declare their assets, the Freedom of Information Act 2011 has now provided the mechanism for the CCB to improve transparency and accountability of asset declarations by elected public officers.
While stating that asset declaration forms are public documents within the meaning of section 109 of the Evidence Act, it noted that Nigerians are entitled to have access to such information.
“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the asset declarations by elected public officers since the return of democracy in 1999.”
It further noted that provisions on the declaration of assets by all public officers in Nigeria are entrenched in the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The primary objective is to prevent corruption and abuse of office and to ensure transparency in public officers.
“SERAP also notes that public officers for the purposes of the Code include the President and the Vice-President of the Federation, state governors and their deputies; the President and Deputy-President of the Senate, the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers, the Chief justice of Nigeria, justices of the Supreme Court, the President and justices of the Court of Appeal, and other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law.”
SERAP, therefore, urged the CCB to:
1. Disclose including by publishing on a dedicated website, details of asset declarations submitted by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999.
2. Disclose details on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by the Bureau.
3. Immediately take cases of false asset declarations to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the effective prosecution of suspects, and include banning the politicians involved from holding public offices for at least a period of 10 years and seeking a refund of stolen public funds as part of the reliefs to be sought before the Tribunal
Justice Mario Mohammed of the Kaduna State High Court has issued a warrant of arrest against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), for contempt.
The judge issued the arrest warrant against the CCB chairman on Friday following his failure to honour several summons by the court in a suit between Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufa’i and Today’s Publishing Company Limited, and one other person.
Justice Mohammed granted the approval based on the application filed by counsel to Today’s Publishing Company Limited, Publishers of The Union Newspapers, Mr J.N. Egwuonwu (SAN), during the continuation of defence at some previous sittings.
A warrant form obtained from the court directs that the police authorities should arrest the CCB Chairman and produce him before the court on February 13, 2019.
In its preliminary application, Today Publishing company, the publishers of The Union Newspaper, prayed the court to subpoena the CCB Chairman to produce assets declaration of Governor El-Rufai in court after several failed efforts it made to obtain it from the CCB.
Governor El-Rufai had in July 2015, approached the Kaduna state High Court over a report carried by the Union newspaper in which it allegedly stated that he had declared N90 billion in his CCB assets declaration form.
Conduct Tribunal Fixes 4th February for resumption of alleged Non asset declaration trial against Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Following Court of Appeal ruling yesterday on the trial against Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter, on alleged non declaration of asset before Code of Conduct Tribunal is hereby fixed for Monday, 4th of February, 2019.
The decision was reached today sequel to a correspondent from Code of Conduct Bureau, applying for the resumption of trial of the case captioned; Application for resumption of trial of the case of FRN V. Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel case No: CCT/ABJ/01/19, addressed to Hon. Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal, dated 30th January, 2019, jointly signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali (Esq).
The request reads in part; “The above subject refers. This case came up for hearing of preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal on the 28th of January, 2019 but the Tribunal could not proceed due to the tendency of the case at the Court of Appeal.
“However, in the wake of this afternoon, 30th January, 2019 the Court of Appeal has thrown out the appeal.
“Consequently on the above, we urge the Honourable Tribunal to give us a date for resumption of the trial subject to the convenience of the Tribunal, Most obliged my Lord.
Ibraheem Al-Hassan, Heads, (Press & Public Relations), Code of Conduct Tribunal Headquarters, Abuja. January 31st, 2019.”
The CCT’s latest step comes barely a day after an Appeal Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, seeking a stay of execution on his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Abdul Aboki rejected the appeal, saying that the injunction is spent and the case at the CCT can continue.
The appellate court held that Justice Onnoghen’s application runs contrary to section 306 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA).
Justice Aboki who read the lead ruling cited a case of Dr Bukola Saraki in which Justice Onnoghen himself at the Supreme Court declined to stay trial of Saraki on the same ground that section 306 of the new law, did not permit the stay of criminal trial.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal has said it would commence the trial of Justice Walter Onnoghen on Monday, January 14, on six charges.
According to the CCT the charges were filed before it by the Code of Conduct Bureau, based on a petition signed by the Executive Secretary of the anti-corruption research data-based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.
President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and also members of the National Population Commission (NPC).
The President on Wednesday appointed Muhammed Isah, as the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB).
Mr Isah hails from Jigawa State representing the North West zone.
The CCB consists of six members who are Murtala Aliyu Kankia from Katsina (North West), Emmanuel Enu Attah from Cross River (South-South), Ubolo Okpanachi from Kogi (North Central), Ken Madaki Alkali from Nasarawa (North Central), Prof. S.F. Ogundare from Oyo (South West) and Saad Abubakar from Gombe (North East), respectively.
While the NPC has 23 members with an existing chairman.
The NPC members are Nwanne Johnny Nwabuisi (Abia), Dr Clifford Zirra (Adamawa), Mr Chidi Christopher Ezeoke(Anambra), Barrister Isa Audu Buratai (Borno), Navy Captain Charles Iyam Ogwa (rtd) (Cross River), Sir Richard Odibo(Delta), Okereke Darlington Onuabuchi (Ebonyi) and Mr A.D. Olusegun Aiyajina (Edo).
Others are Ejike Ezeh (Enugu), Hon. Abubakar Mohammed Danburam (Gombe), Prof. Uba S.F. Nnabue (Imo), Dr. Abdulmalik Mohammed Durunguwa (Kaduna), Sulaiman Ismaila Lawal (Kano), Prof. Jimoh Habibat Isah (Kogi), Dr. Sa’adu Ayinla Alanamu (Kwara), Nasir Isa kwarra (Nasarawa).
Also on the list are Barrister Aliyu Datti (Niger), Yeye (Mrs) Seyi Adererinokun Olusanya (Ogun), Prince Oladiran Garvey Iyantan (Ondo), Senator Mudashiru Oyetunde Hussain (Osun), Mrs Cecilia Arsun Dapoet ()Plateau, Dr. Ipalibo Macdonald Harry (Rivers), Sale S. Saany (Taraba)
The inauguration was held before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.