CCB, AGF move to block bank ac­counts of 200 pub­lic of­fi­cers

• Bureau plans to au­to­mate op­er­a­tions • Malami whit­tles down pow­ers of EFCC, ICPC

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja

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.

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