Why we amended false asset declaration charge against Saraki – CCB

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has adjourned the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki to allow the defendant time to peruse the amended charge against the defendant.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had on Wednesday informed the tribunal of its decision to amend the 16-count charge brought against Mr. Saraki.

After Mr. Jacobs stated his client’s request to amend the charge, the tribunal adjourned hearing.

When the session resumed, the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, asked the court for an adjournment to allow the defendant understand the details of the amended charge.

He prayed the court for an adjournment till February 28, but Mr. Jacobs objected the application saying a long adjournment was unnecessary.

Mr. Agabi had hinged his request on the claim that the prosecution was the one delaying the case.

“This is the second amendment. Are we the ones delaying the trial? It is a serious case. We need to go and study the amendment; we need time.

“He has a right to seek an amendment and we have a right too to seek time to go through the charges,” said Mr. Agabi.

The tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, adjourned the matter to February 23 to take the plea of Mr. Saraki on the amended charges.

Speaking with journalists after the hearing, Mr. Jacobs said the amended charges, now 18-count are based on fresh evidences gotten from the testimonies by witnesses.

“It’s not about an increase in the charge, we just needed to amend it to suit the new evidences from testimonies of witnesses. There is no need to make heavy weather out of this fresh charges; (they are) in line with the former one,” said Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Saraki’s trial began in 2015, with a 13-count charge, bordering on false asset declaration.

The charges were later increased to 16-counts, in 2016.

BREAKING: Again, FG moves to amend Saraki’s false asset declaration charge.

The Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, has again amended the charges brought against Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Saraki is facing trial on a 16-count charge for alleged false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja.

The trial, which began in September 2015, was earlier amended in 2016, with an addition of three charges.

A prosecution witness, Samuel Madojemu, was already in the dock presenting his evidence when the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, announced his decision to amend the charges against Mr. Saraki.

After informing the tribunal about the application for hearing on the amended charge, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, said he had not been briefed about the decision to amend the charges.

The defence counsel, however, said they had been served with a motion for the amendment of charge by the prosecution.

Subsequently the matter was stood down for an hour for hearing on the application to amend the charges.

Earlier Mr. Madojemu, who was head of investigation at the CCB, told the tribunal that investigation which led to the trial of Mr. Saraki had been triggered by a previous investigation conducted by a presidential investigation team in 2006.

“When we joined the team, a review of the investigation was done by the CCB, EFCC and other members of the team. In the course of the review, the team discovered that there was a previous report by a Presidential investigation team set up in 2006 consisting the CCB, EFCC and the SSS.

“It was that report which covered the beginning of tenure 2003 of the defendant. That report was what triggered the investigation,” he said.

Mr. Saraki was Kwara governor between 2003 and 2011.

Mr. Madojemu explained that the said investigation began with the EFCC after which the commission forwarded the result of its investigation to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

He said the AGF found the infractions allegedly committed had to do with false declaration of asset and that was how the Code of Conduct Bureau was invited into the matter.

The trial will continue later on Wednesday after the one hour adjournment.

Asset Declaration: Fashola, Adeosun, Amaechi, 16 others yet to fully comply. – CCB

The Code of Conduct Bureau says it may be forced to arrest and possibly prosecute at least 19 ministers and heads of agencies in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for non-compliance with procedures of declaring their assets.

The 19 federal government appointees, according to a statement issued by the CCB Chairman, Sam Saba, have so far not honoured invitations to appear before the Bureau to clear their asset declaration claims.

The bureau however praised some top officials of the Nigerian government like the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for promptly complying with the asset declaration protocol within the stipulated time.

Photo credit: The Herald News Nigeria
Photo credit: The Herald News Nigeria

The CCB boss said the bureau has invited some serving ministers and heads of agencies among others over “issues” pertaining to their asset declaration requirements, but most of them have failed to respond.

The asset declaration defaulters, according to CCB include Kemi Adeosun (Finance Minister), Kayode Fayemi (Mine and Solid Minerals), Adebayo Shittu (Minister of Communication), Babatunde Fashola (Minister of Power, Works and Housing), Ibe Kachikwu (Minister of State Petroleum), Ogbonnaya Onu (Minister of Science and Technology).

Other defaulters are Mike Okiro (Chairman, Police Service Commission), Godwin Emefiele (CBN Governor), Abubakar Bawa Bwari (Minister of State Solid Minerals) and Rotimi Amaechi (Minister of Transport).

Still on the list of defaulters are Aisha Alhassan (Minister Women Affairs and Social Development); Solomon Dalung (Minister of Youths & Sports Development); Udo Udoma (Minister Budget and National Planning); Dan Ali Mansur (Minister of Defence); Ibrahim Usman Jibril (Minister of State, Environment); Suleiman Adamu (Minister of Water Resources and Rural Development), Lai Muhammed (Minister of Information) and Mustapha Baba Shehuri (Minister of State Power).

The CCB said it has also invited Claudius Daramola (Minister of State Niger Delta Affairs); Hadiza Usman (MD. Nigeria Ports Authority); Ahmed Kuru (MD/CEO AMCON); Isaac Adewole (Minister of Health); Okechukwu Enelamah (Minister of Trade Investment and Industry) and Geoffrey Onyema (Minister of Foreign Affairs).


Ibe Kachikwu Minister of State for Petroleum Photo: thisdaylive.com
Ibe Kachikwu
Minister of State for Petroleum
Photo: thisdaylive.com

“Pursuant to paragraph 11 of Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), every public officer is required to submit to the CCB a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse (if not a public officer) and his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years,” the bureau said.

“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.

“To this end, the Bureau has commenced its 2016 4th Quarter cycle of conference and Field verifications of assets of top public officers.

“Accordingly, letters of invitation have been dispatched to Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Service Chiefs and other top Public Officers.

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi

“This exercise is ongoing and is being carried out concurrently at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.

“At a satisfactory completion of the exercise, Public Officers are issued with certificate of Assets Conference Verification/Field Verification as the case maybe.”

Other top public office holders that were also praised for not delaying the declaration of their assets include the acting MD/CEO Niger Delta Development Commission, Semenitari Mary –Gab Tamunoibim; Corps Marshall, Federal Road Safety Corp, Boboye Oyeyemi ); Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed and the Commissioner, Federal Civil Service Commission, Hope Odhuluma Ikrirko.

The CCB also hailed persons like the former SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Minister Budget & National Planning, Zainab Ahmed Shamsuna, Minister Trade, Investment & Industry, Aisha Abubakar; INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood; and Former Executive Secretary NUC, Julius A. Okojie; as well as the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.

“CCB however, commends those public officers, who honoured its invitations promptly and submitted themselves for the exercise!”

More ministers, including the Attorney General of the Federation, had been sent letter of invitation by CCB, and it has not been confirmed if they would honour the invite when it comes to their turn to appear before the Bureau.

CCB threatens to prosecute ministers who fail to declare assets

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has threatened to prosecute ministers, public servants and government officials who ignore its invitation for asset verification.

Sam Saba, chairman of the bureau, said this in a statement, vowing that those who fall in this category would be taken to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

He commended the public servants who declared their assets within the time frame set by the bureau.

“Pursuant to paragraph 11 of part 1 of the 5th schedule to the 1999 constitution (as amended), every public officer is required to submit to the CCB a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse (if not a public officer) and his unmarried children under the age of 18 years,” he said in a statement.

“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.

“To this end, the Bureau has commenced its 2016 4th Quarter cycle of conference and field verifications of assets of top public officers.

“Accordingly, letters of invitation have been dispatched to Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, service chiefs and other top public officers.

“This exercise is ongoing and is being carried out concurrently at the federal, state and local government levels.

“At a satisfactory completion of the exercise, public officers are issued with certificate of assets conference verification/field verification as the case maybe.

“CCB however, commends those public officers, who honoured its invitations promptly and submitted themselves for the exercise.”

House of Reps may revisit CCB/CCT Amendment Bill

Indications emerged yesterday that the House of Representatives may reconsider the Code of Conduct Amendment Bill 2016 recently passed into law, which whittled the powers of the President on the tribunal.

The bill, passed last week by the Senate but yet to be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, sought among others, to transfer the powers of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the CCT from the Executive to the National Assembly.

However, the legislative initiative did not go down well with the House Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who said there was need to look at it again in the interest of Nigerians.

Making a copious reference to constitutional provision on appointments into the board of the CCB, he said that the bill as passed by the Senate ran contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.

Gbajabiamila, who pushed for an immediate deliberation on the issue yesterday, further claimed that he was not aware of any of such infractions when the bill was considered on clause-by-clause basis in the lower legislative chamber recently.

But Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Obio/Akpor: Rivers) and Pwajok Edward Gyang (Jos: Plateau: PDP) said the House Leader should have raised the issue as a substantive motion.

Gyang asserted that it would be an aberration to revisit the bill, saying that it behooves the House to tarry awhile and see whether the President will assent to it or not.

Meanwhile, Speaker Dogara, who presided over the plenary session, ruled that Gbajabiamila should put the House members on notice to enable them have ample opportunity to reflect on the issue rather than laying an “ambush” for them on it.

The House had passed the amendment bill in May 2016 and sent it to the Senate for concurrence.The bill passed by the Senate allowed the President to maintain his appointment powers over the CCB.

But the appointment of the chairman and members of the bureau and the tribunal will be subject to Senate’s approval, limited to a tenure of five years, while the second term will be subject to legislative approval if the amendment is passed into law.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Samuel Anyanwu, while laying a report on the concurrence amendment bill on the floor of the chamber, had admitted a similar reworked one was introduced in the Senate earlier in the year, which generated political tension that forced the lawmakers to suspend the process.

In another development, Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has said the amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act was not to favour Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is on trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.

Ndume, who made the clarifications yesterday while reacting to the debate on the amendment of the CCT Act during an interactive session with reporters in Maiduguri, said: “It is insulting on us to say that we are doing the bidding of Saraki because laws are not made in retrospect. If we make a law today, it cannot immediately invalidate the existing laws on the same issue.”Ndume said that the main concern of the National Assembly was to make the organisation more effective in its functions.

‘National Assembly amendment of CCB, CCT Act will fail’ – Sagay

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, and the immediate past Director-General of Nigerian Law School, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, have flayed the National Assembly for removing the control of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, from the executive, saying the plan will fail.

According to the two SANs, the action of NASS is informed by the ongoing travails of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Tribunal.

Prof. Sagay, who was optimistic that the amendment to the CCB and CCT Act by NASS would fail, said he didn’t see President Muhammadu Buhari signing the bill.

He said: “It is an attempt to ridicule the whole Code of Conduct set up, and it will definitely fail. It needs an independent body that will neither be the legislature nor executive.

‘’It will fail because I don’t see the President signing such a bill. Of course, the President’s veto can be overridden by two-third majority.

“But at the end of the day, what they will put on paper is going to be scrutinized very carefully to see that it does not in any way contradict what is already in the constitution about the Code of Conduct.

‘’It is a constitutional matter; the provisions are in the constitution. In other words, what they want to do, unless it is clearly an improvement in the tenure of the Act, in the sense that it will be more rigorous and compelling for public officers to obey it, it will fail. If they attempt to weaken it to accommodate a lower moral standard in the public light, it will fail.’’

Prof Mamman, on his part, noted that the speed with which the bill was passed showed the Senate had a special interest in the matter.

According to him, if the amendment sails through, it will not give a good image to the law makers.

“Overall, it is perceived as an exercise by them to take away the role of the executive in the appointment of judges of the body due to the ongoing travails of the Senate President with the tribunal, no more, no less!” he stated.

Mamman explained that though it was within the powers of the National Assembly to amend any existing law in Nigeria on matters it had powers to legislate on, tinkering with existing laws for less than holy motives was ill-informed and a divisive issue to the country.

He added: “Also, in interpreting statutes, interpreters of legislations apply diverse rules to decipher the intention of the lawmakers at the time the law was made.

‘’That is, what was the mischief that the law sought to cure? However, it may not necessarily affect the efficacy of the Tribunal.

“This will essentially depend on the personality and integrity of the officials manning the Tribunal and the overall climate of the country in terms of citizens actively demanding accountability from office holders.”

Senate Suspends Moves To Amend CCB/CCT Act

The Senate on Wednesday suspended further deliberation on the amendment of Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Tribunals Act as well as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, announced the suspension following a two-hour closed door session.

The close-door session was informed by a Point of Order raised by Sen. Hope Uzodinma (PDP-Imo West) on the need for the senate to discuss some issues affecting the integrity of the upper house.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Bill to amend the Acts, sponsored by Sen. Peter Nwoboshi (PDP-Delta North), passed through the first and second readings on April 12 and April 14.

The senate, while declaring support for the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in view of his trial, also suspended discussions on the petition of inflammatory statements on the Senate against Sen. Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara Central).

“The senate in a closed-door session discussed a number of issues affecting the smooth working of the senate.

“And I am happy to announce to our colleagues and the entire nation that after exhaustive deliberations and being sincere to ourselves, we decided to put behind us all things that have divided us since the inception of the 8 Senate and work as a united senate in the best interest of our country.

“We also agreed in the closed-session to suspend the discussion of the committee on Ethics report on Senator Marafa.

“We agreed to suspend further deliberation on the amendment on the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal’s Act and the Criminal and Administration of Justice Act the amendment thereto.

“We agreed that this senate should stand and we do stand by the senate president in his trial until proven guilty by the court in accordance with our constitution and democratic practices all over the world including South Africa, Brazil and Russia.”

The deputy president of the senate further announced that the upper house had set up committees to reconcile the warring factions in the senate and other pertinent issues.

“We also agreed to set up a committee two from each geo-political zone to address all the remaining issues and as part of the reconciliation those in court should consider withdrawing the cases.

“Further to the agreement to set up the committees, the geo-political zones have sent names of their representatives.

“For South South, we have Sen. Akpabio and Sen. James Manager; for North West, we have Sen. Sani Yerima and Suleiman Hunkuyi; for the North East, we have Sen. Bukar Abba and Joshua Lidani.

“For the South East, we have Sam Egwu and Hope Uzodinma; for the North Central, we have Gemade and Abdullahi Adamu; and for the South West, we have Monsurat Sumonu and Sen. Gbenga Ashafa.”

Credit: ngrguardian

Some Governors Yet To Declare Assets- CCB

The Code of Conduct Bureau has expressed worry over the delay by some state governors to declare their assets, one month after assuming office.

“The people we are having problem with now are some governors, but I cannot be categorical in terms of statistics except I confirm.” Chairman of CCB, Mr. Sam Saba, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said, “The governors are not even supposed to start work as political office holders until they declare their assets. It is provided in Section 185 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“It reads that; a person elected to the office of a governor of a state shall not begin to perform the function of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities.”

Saba said that in spite of the fact that the section made assets declaration prelude to taking oath of office, some governors took over office without declaring their assets because of ignorance.

“It is not like they are not willing to declare, but because of the erroneous impression that they have up to three months within which to declare their assets and liabilities.

“But the issue is that they are supposed to have declared before being sworn in as governors,” he added.


CCB Explains Why Buhari’s Assets Will Not Be Declared Publicly

The Code of Conduct Bureau says it will not make public the details of assets declared by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo due to limitations in federal laws covering such release, the office has said.

The presidency said those details will be made available after the Code of Conduct Bureau authenticates claims in the declaration forms.

There has been controversy following the inability of President Buhari and his Deputy Osinbajo to release details of their assets since their inauguration May 29, despite the promise to do so.

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We Lack Power For Now To Display Buhari, Osinbajo’s Assets– CCB

Nigerians who are itching to see the net worth of President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, may need to wait a bit longer, as the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, which keeps custody of the assets declared by the two leaders, says it lacks the power to make them public for now.

Chairman of the CCB, Mr. Sam Sada, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard through his Special Assistant, Mr. Gwimi Sebastian Peter, said only the National Assembly is vested with the powers to decide the terms and conditions under which such documents could be made public.

The chairman said even though the Constitution of Nigerian made it clear that the agency should make available to the citizens the assets declared by public officials, the same law vested the National Assembly with the power to decide the terms and conditions for making such materials public.

Credit: Vanguard