The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the 44 ministers in the Federal Executive Council will soon start declaring their assets ahead of May 29 when their tenure will end.
The Special Adviser to the CCB Chairman on General Duties, Dr Mustapha Musa, confirmed to The PUNCH on Sunday that the necessary arrangements had been made for the issuance of the assets forms to the outgoing officials and their successors.
Also, the outgoing presidential aides, 28 state governors and their cabinet members, National Assembly and state assembly members and local government chairmen will equally obtain the assets declaration forms from the Code of Conduct Bureau and submit the same to the CCB in line with the 1999 constitution.
This complies with the provision of the constitution which stipulates that all public officers shall declare their assets and liabilities on the assumption of office and at the end of their tenure of office.
However, the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima and 28 incoming governors and their cabinet members as well as the state assembly members have three months to submit their assets forms to the CCB.
They are also required to state all properties and assets acquired within or outside the country with the value of the said assets in the currency of the country where the property is situated.
The CCB chairman’s aide explained that the concerned officials were required to obtain the forms from the CCB office and declare all their assets, including money, landed property, vehicles, shares, bonds and others and the sources of the assets.
Musa stated, “They (officials) are expected to declare all their assets at the point of exit, at the point of leaving office. That’s what the law says. They will submit the forms when leaving the office, you cannot submit assets declaration forms while in office.
‘’So, it is at the point of entrance and point of exit. That is what the constitution says, that is what the Code of Conduct Bureau Act says under section 15. The same thing applies to those who are about to come into government but they have three months to declare.’’
The SA disclosed that the assets declaration forms were available online, adding that the bureau would soon digitalise the declaration process.
“The officials are expected to get the forms from the bureau and in fact, they can even go online. We cannot stop issuing the forms because they are online but very soon, we will stop the hard copy and ask them to make their declaration online,’’ Musa noted.
When asked if the outgoing officials have been coming for the forms, he said, “It depends on the mindset but because the law says at the point of exit, so if they pick it now, they cannot submit it until they are about to leave the office. They still have two months to go, so even if they fill out the forms now, they cannot give them to us.’’
On the prosecution of defaulters, the official asserted that many ex-governors, former ministers and other officials were facing trial for under-declaring their assets after leaving office.
He added, “We are prosecuting and we are securing convictions. We prosecute in thousands. We have hundreds of cases before the tribunal. We prosecute daily. The Code of Conduct Bureau is the only body empowered by the constitution to prosecute cases of breaches of the code of conduct for public officers.
“At the tribunal, it is only the judiciary body that has the power to prosecute public officers. So, the tribunal is always our hope. I cannot give you the figure but there are many including all erring public officials.’’
Musa stated that the CCB has been enlightening public officials on the imperative of complying with the law, stressing that the CCB was focused on ensuring compliance rather than prosecution.
“What we do majorly is to see that public officers keep to the code of conduct of public officers. We enlighten public officers where we target local, government, state government and MDAs. We are targeting them for compliance, not for prosecution. However, the power to prosecute is there. The tribunal is there,’’ he said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a CCB official disclosed that the issuance of the forms would commence before the middle of April or early May.
He added, “Because of difficulty in tracking those who might disappear after leaving office, we do start the issuance of form CCB1 before the expiration of the term of office. We will start issuing forms this month for the incoming (officials) who could fill and return completed assets declaration forms before they are sworn in. The process will most likely commence middle of this month or early May.’’
According to the guidelines published on the CCB website, failure to declare the assets may result in removal from office; vacation of the official seat in any legislative house, as the case may be; imposition of fine; disqualification from membership of a legislative house and from holding of any public office for a period not exceeding 10 years and seizure and forfeiture of any property acquired in abuse or corruption of office.
‘’The law states that the sanctions mentioned above shall be without prejudice to the penalties that may be imposed by any law where the conduct is also a criminal offence,’’ the statement said.