Overwhelmed by the new anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors have rushed to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to declare their assets.
The bureau has, however, started investigation of the claims in the assets declaration forms of the governors. None of the governors has chosen to make the list of assets public.
But the probe of the declared assets might take some months to complete. It was, however, learnt last night that the CCB is expecting all the governors to close down their foreign accounts.
An advisory has gone to the governors and their deputies in line with the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 on Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
According to findings by our correspondent, all the 36 governors have declared and submitted their assets forms.
The response was said to be “unprecedented” by a source in the CCB despite the fact that the governors have up to three months to do so.
The constitution says: “The bureau shall have power to receive declaration by public officers made under paragraph 12 of part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution.
“Subject to the provision of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.”
A reliable source in the CCB said: “From our compilation so far, all the governors have declared their assets. This is the first time we are experiencing full compliance by the governors because of the anti-corruption policy of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“In spite of the fact that the law allows the governors to declare their assets within three months, they have all rushed to fulfil this constitutional obligation.
“I think they were all responding to the spur of the moment on anti-graft war. We are happy that the governors have emulated the President and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “Our law forbids us from disclosing the assets of any public officer, but from what is in our custody, none of the 36 governors has less than N100million assets.
“Some of them are worth billions of naira in their declaration forms.”
But the CCB has started verifying the assets of the governors to find out whether or not they were truthful in their assets declaration forms.
The top official of the CCB added: “We have started investigation of the claims of the governors to ascertain whether they are real or bogus. We will also try to find out if any of the governors padded his assets or not.
“The verification is going to be a painstaking exercise because the law is very strict on false declaration.
“It also requires huge overhead to move around the country to verify some of these assets. The only luck we have is that we have offices in most states of the federation.”
After the declaration, the constitution empowers the bureau to take the following steps.
They are: “Examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law.
“Retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
“Ensure compliance with and, where appropriate, enforce the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law relating thereto.
“Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorized in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this code.
“Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this constitution and which is not fairly attributable to income, gift, or loan approved by this code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of this code unless the contrary is proved.”
“Receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto. Investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”
Meanwhile, all the governors and their deputies are expected to close down their foreign bank accounts in compliance with the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 on Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
The CCB official said: “The closure of foreign bank accounts is mandatory for these governors, deputy governors, and many elected members of the legislature and public officers.
“In fact, if anyone is found still maintaining his or her foreign accounts, he or she will be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Where such a public officer enjoys immunity, he or she will face trial after leaving office.”
The constitution says: “The President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of the National Assembly and the Houses of Assembly of the states and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.”
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