ABUJA—President Goodluck Jonathan, his Vice, Namadi Sambo and the state governors may soon be compelled to publish their bank accounts, including foreign bank accounts.
This follows a three-pronged bill which passed second reading, yesterday, on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The bill also allows the President, his vice, state governors and indeed all other public office holders to keep foreign bank accounts.
One of the bills comes with the title, “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, so as to make the leave of the bureau necessary for a public officer to maintain or operate a bank account outside Nigeria.”
Others are: A Bill for an Act to Amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act by deleting proviso to Section 3, deleting section 18(1) and enacting and Amended Section 18(2) and a Bill for an Act to Amend the Conduct of Bureau Tribunal Act to make accessible Assets and Liabilities declared by Public Office Holders.”
Sponsors of the bills are Hons. Bamidele Faparusi (APC-Ekiti), Oluchi Ibeji(PDP-Abia) and Emmanuel Jime (PDP-Benue).
While presenting his Bill, Hon. Faparusi argued that: “The purpose of the law is to discourage the launder of money and fraud by public officers. But it is public knowledge that nobody would use his bank account to launder money, instead proxies and cronies have become ready instruments for such purposes”.
He stated that: “The instant law, as it is today, does not contemplate this development and to tackle it, there is need to make for such public officer, who hitherto maintains and operates a foreign account and has cause to hold same, to get leave of the Bureau to continue to use such accounts. This would be an improvement from the practice of requiring a public office holder to close any foreign account so held by reason of the office now occupied.”
He further submitted that “this development would give the Bureau some teeth to bite, based on the fact that it would be able to prosecute any defaulter and seek the imposition of sanctions in line with section 23 of the Act relying on the said public office holder’s decline to make proper declaration to the Bureau”.
Also highlighting the synopsis of his Bill in his lead debate on his Bill, which seeks to compel public office holders to declare their assets, Hon. Jime said that the said assets be made public in two weeks.
He opined that the development will discourage theft, promote transparency and tame financial corruption in public offices.
“The Principal aim of asset declaration/disclosure by public officials is tailored towards combating corruption; enhancing and building public confidence and legitimacy in government processes; and engineering transparency in its dealings, in the eyes of the public and the international community at large”, he stated.
Jime further stated that the intention of the Bill was to amend section 3(c) of the Code of Conduct Act, 2004 to :Retain and make accessible to any Nigerian citizen within 14 days, the assets and liabilities declared by any serving or past public office holder, via any medium as he or she may wish upon agreement with the Bureau and to bear the charges thereof”.
He added that: “the importance of making more accessible assets and liabilities of public office holders to make governance more open has found expression in many countries of the world, a better example through public disclosure of assets as exemplified in Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile etc”.
The 3-legged Bill which received unanimous endorsement of the members when put to vote by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal was later referred to Committees on Anti-corruption, Ethics and Values for a Public Hearing