The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has directed ministers-designate to declare their assets before inauguration or risk facing the wrath of the law.
The bureau plans to verify claims submitted by the new ministers at land registry, banks and companies where they either have shares or wholly owned by them.
It will however engage the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to confirm the assets and accounts of the ministers-designate abroad.
The Chairman of CCB, Prof. Muhammed Isah, told The Nation that none of the new ministers would be inaugurated without first declaring his or her assets.
He said the bureau has been liaising with the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office to ensure full compliance with the law by the incoming ministers.
He said while some of the new ministers have collected assets declaration forms, some are yet to do so.
“It is legally compulsory for the ministers-designate to declare their assets. If they do not declare their assets, they cannot be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari. That is the most appropriate thing. We are determined to enforce the law,” Isah said.
“So, the deadline for the declaration of assets is before their inauguration. From reports, a considerable number of them have collected but they have not completed the process. Some have not obtained the assets declaration form.”
Responding to a question, Isah said: “I have discussed the issue of declaration of assets by the new ministers with the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office. The same office has also requested for 100 copies of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act to guide the new ministers.
“We are hopeful that CCB officers will be part of the induction for the ministers between August 15 and 16. We want them to know the dos and don’ts in public office.”
Isah explained that the CCB will verify the claims of ministers-designate at home and abroad.
“We engage in up site and on site investigation of the ministers’ claims. By invoking up site investigation, we will verify their claims from land registry, banks, property firms, and companies they have shares or fully owned by them.
“On site investigation involves inspection of the properties or assets declared in our form. This requires our officers going to assess the claims made by the ministers.
“As for those with assets abroad, we will liaise with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to liaise with relevant authorities in foreign jurisdictions to confirm the truth or otherwise of such assets.
“Paragraph 12 of part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to 1999 Constitution confers the powers to verify assets on the Bureau.”
It says the Bureau shall: “Examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law.
“Retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
“Ensure compliance with and, where appropriate, enforce the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law relating thereto.
“Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorized in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this Code.
“Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this Constitution and which is not fairly attributable to income, gift, or loan approved by this Code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of this Code unless the contrary is proved.”
“Receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of the Provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto. Investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”