To curb increasing corruption in the public sector, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC has called for the publication of assets declared by public and civil servants by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
In a statement by the spokesperson of ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, the chairman of the Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, professor of law, observed during a meeting with the Chairman and board members of CCB that the secrecy that surrounds assets declaration by public and civil servants was aiding corruption.
“Publicising assets declaration will assist the whistle-blowing policy and our work. We have not been able to take full advantage of asset declaration because of the opacity around it. If somebody lied about his or her assets, he or she can be found out by just the opening of the page where it has been published. I want to encourage the Bureau to push for that because the public will help us to do our work. They will tell us who owns what asset and whether it is proportionate to their earnings.”
He said the confidentiality surrounding asset declarations has added to the problem of insecurity and underdevelopment facing the nation.
He encouraged the Bureau to move to review and revise the Assets Declaration Form to include information that could help trace assets such as BVN and new forms of investments such as cryptocurrency.
Owasanoye urged the Bureau to start digital declaration of assets as against the old manual method, which would make for easy tracing and analysis of assets and enable CCB to furnish government with information on the lifestyles of both public and civil servants.
“If you digitise asset declaration, it will help you to reach everybody under your cover. It is easily analytical and helps you to know what asset the public servant owns. It will enable you to inform the government about the status of public servants, whether they are doing badly or not.”
He offered the forensic platforms of the ICPC to the CCB and promised that the Commission was willing to assist the Bureau with capacity-building programmes for its staff.
He hoped CCB would be active in assets recovery as an enforcement measure so that public servants who live beyond their legitimate incomes would have the illegally acquired assets taken away from them.
Mohammed Isah, also a professor of law, and chairman of CCB, had called for synergy between the anti-corruption agencies because the problem of corruption cannot be successfully tackled by one agency. This cooperation should include not dabbling into investigation of any petition that was already being handled by any of the anti-corruption agencies.
“In the areas of overlapping function, who starts investigation of a petition first should be allowed to conclude. The others should stop investigating the same matter to avoid wastage of resources. There is no need to over-engage ourselves by doing the same thing,” he reasoned.
He said CCB was willing to share information on asset declaration with ICPC to aid its investigations. Isah said tracking of executive and constituency projects by ICPC was a laudable initiative that has taken out corruption, and brought development closer to Nigerians.