CCB, AGF move to block bank accounts of 200 public officers
• Bureau plans to automate operations • Malami whittles down powers of EFCC, ICPC
THE Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) is working with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to block bank accounts of 200 allegedly corrupt public officers. The move was initiated following the completion of investigation of over 200 cases by the CCB involving about N40 billion.
Chairman of CCB, Professor Mohammed Isah, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a town hall meeting on anti-corruption organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the bureau had investigated over 200 cases, filed 75 at the tribunal while about 100 were pending.
‘’The amount involved in over 200 cases investigated is N40 billion. If the cases are successfully prosecuted and some people are convicted at the end of the day, the Federal Government will benefit. We are working with the office of the Attorney General of the federation to block those accounts with no debit further,’’ he said.
According to Isah, the bureau is working to improve relationship with the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for speedy prosecution of corruption cases. ‘’We have improved our collaboration with other anticorruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC. We realised the need to team up to fight a common enemy which is corruption; so we opened our doors to sister agencies and collaborators.
“This is necessary because CCB serves as a data bank, considering the fact that any investigation to be made, especially when it has to do with a public officer, requires knowledge of assets he had declared, if at all he had declared his asset, and if he has not done so, that is another point for the bureau to take over from there in the course of investigation.
“This is the only area where the principle of double jeopardy does not apply. When a person violates the code of conduct, and has been prosecuted and convicted, still another prosecuting agency can investigate him with the same facts and take him to court and the principle of double jeopardy will not apply. It will help us in many ways if we close the gap to fight corruption,’’ Isah explained.
“One of the challenges is that the CCB is not automated yet, but the bureau has secured commitments of the presidency, public institutions and donor agencies to ensure full automation of its operations. ‘’When this is done, public officers can easily be monitored. We will have the information on all public officers at our finger tip, we will be able to track the activities
of individual public officers in the country so that the prevention that CCT is set to achieve in the fight against corruption will be realised. Corruption has done so much damage to the country. We need a Nigeria where people will apply for jobs and get it on merit.’’
Earlier, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said though it was not the first time Nigeria was fighting corruption, it was the first time that the fight would be backed by strong political will, with a president known for his honour, dignity and incorruptibility personally leading the battle.
‘’One may say that the war against corruption is still a war in progress. but it is also fair to say that corruption has now been driven under the table, and that the corrupt ones can no longer flaunt the proceeds of their corruption the way they used to do in the past.”
In his remarks, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, noted that the recent clampdown on internet fraudsters popularly know as Yahoo boys was yielding fruits, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has whittled down the powers of the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies in areas of assets seizure.
The directive is contained in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette Vol. 106, No 163, titled, ‘Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulation 2019’, dated October 29, 2019.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, the AGF also scrapped all asset recovery and tracing committees and directed in Part 3, Section 5(1) of the gazette that all nonconviction-based forfeiture shall be conducted by his office. He emphasized that where a non-conviction-based forfeiture procedure arises, the law enforcement agency and anti-corruption agencies should transfer the matter to the office of the AGF. “All non-conviction based forfeiture shall be conducted by the Office of the Attorney-general of the Federation. Where a nonconviction based forfeiture procedure arises, the LEA (Law Enforcement Agency) and ACAS (AntiCorruption Agencies) shall transfer the matter to the Office of the AGF,” it stated. The gazette further states that all seized assets shall be registered by all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAS). Also, all final forfeited assets recovered by agencies shall be handed over to the AGF within 60 days from the commencement of the regulations of management.
Malami warned that any agency head who failed to follow the new guidelines would be dealt with.