When President Buhari recently allowed a partial public mention of his assets, I made a post on my Facebook page and immediately got attacked as a “wailer.” It was rather annoying but then I am learning that if within the lifespan of the present Administration I must occasionally say one or two things, then I must get used to being called names. Buhari is “Sai Baba”, as “Baba” he is technically a “Pope”, infallible and stainless. He can do no wrong and cannot be accused of anything. His Holiness the President is larger than life. However, no one ever paid a price for my conscience – it doesn’t even have a price tag – and as such I am free to think and express my thoughts however so wailing it might be. So, bring it on. It is only a reflection of your personality and intellectual substance.

The Code Of Conduct Assets Declaration Form

For the benefits of those who have never seen a CCB1 – Code of Conduct Form for Public Officers – I have scanned a copy of the form and I am attaching it to this write-up. The instructions for the form are on the inside front cover. I want to discuss the form before I go on to say a very things about the recent public mention of some assets of President Buhari, and the more recent Saraki indictment before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Now the form. The front cover of the form shows that Code of Conduct Bureau is an agency under the Presidency. As such, as much as the Bureau may be independent, a sitting president (or his “body language”, if you prefer) may largely influence the decisions and activities of the Bureau. Second, the form is stamped “SECRET” both at the top and  bottom, front and back. I pause to ponder on why the Bureau marks the form as “SECRET”. Well, in Government establishments there are various levels of “sealing” information. In any Government establishment anywhere the world, various documents are marked as “Confidential”, “Restricted”, “Secret”, “Top Secret”, or “Classified”. I cannot say whether or not the contents of a completed form marked “Secret” should be publicly disclosed. It is also curious that the form does not specify to whom the words “SECRET” conveys an instruction. Whether it means that the declarant must keep it secret, or that the officials of the CCB must keep it secret is not specified. In any case, I would therefore not fault anyone who chooses NOT to publicly disclose the contents of what he or she fills into the form. At once, in the absence of any law prohibiting the declarant from making the contents of the form public, I can also not blame anyone who chooses to make the contents public. However, everyone should observe what “SECRET” means when it is stamped on Government documents.

Now, the instructions are inside the front cover. There are 11 clauses of instruction. I can’t repeat everything here. But I will reproduce a few:

  • This form is a schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) and it is mandatory for all Public Officers whether elected, appointed, recruited, contracted etc by whatever name called to collect and sign the form from the Code of Conduct Bureau Office nearest to their work station in any of the 36 states of the Federation and FCT. Or the Code of Conduct Bureau Headquarters at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama District Abuja.
  • (see scanned copy)
  • Every declarant is required by Law to declare his/her assets/liability including that of his spouse(s) who is not a Public Officer and children under 18 years age, honestly, sincerely and submit same to the Bureau within 30 days of the receipt of the forms.
  • (see scanned copy)
  • (see scanned copy)
  • (see scanned copy)
  • Every Public Officer is to note that it is the requirement of the Law to declare his/her assets/liabilities on (a) Assumption of office; (b) at the end of his term of office; (c) at intervals of four years for public officers on continuous employment of Government either of Federal, State or Local Government; (d) and at such other intervals as the Bureau may determine from time to time.
  • (see scanned copy)
  • (see scanned copy)
  • (see scanned copy)
  • (see scanned copy)

You can view the details of the other pages of the form as attached but I want to point to a few things. On page 2, the form requires declaration of cash in bank and “Cash in Hand” (i.e. cash that is not in bank). On page 3, the form requires declaration of buildings, and asks for the locations of the buildings, the total values of the buildings, the date the buildings were acquired, how they were acquired and total annual income derived from such buildings. Similar details are required of vacant/undeveloped lands, farms and orchards, factories and other enterprises, vehicles, boats, household furniture and items (including generating sets, electronics, etc). On page 6 of the form, properties of spouse(s) and children under 18 are required in such details as are required on the previous pages. On page 7, details of Government securities are required as well as details of shares and other securities. The number of the shares are required as well as their current values. Page 8 provides for declaration before a High Court Judge and also shows the “internal use” section of the form for the Bureau to track what actions has been taken on the form.

ccb1page1 ccb1page2 ccb1page3 ccb1page4 ccb1page5 ccb1page6 ccb1page7 ccb1page8 ccb1page9 ccb1page10 ccb1page11

Public Declarations: Yaradua, Jonathan, Buhari.

As I have observed earlier, the form is marked “SECRET” and whoever chooses therefore to keep the contents secret does not in any way violate any law. Yaradua, however, chose to make the contents of his own form public. The values of his buildings were made public. The assets of his spouse were made public. It was his choice.

Jonathan chose NOT to make his declaration public but he found himself swimming against a trend already started by Yaradua. It is a decision that would forever haunt him as the impression the average Nigerian now has is that Jonathan did not even complete the CCB form and never declared his assets. Whereas, all he did was kept secret the things that were marked “secret”.

Buhari decided to make a partial public revelation of his worth and he did so in a very wise manner. Commendable. Most Nigerians now believe that the President is not worth more than N30 million Naira, forgetting the fact that the President has 270 cows and several sheep that could be worth another N30 million, considering that cows can sell for averagely N100,000. Well, the CCB form requires that the values of farms and orchards, and buildings and houses be given. My personal impression (which is not in anyway an indictment of Pope Buhari) is that since he has decided to make a public declaration of his assets, he should have made a full declaration – stating the values of his buildings and lands, and how much he earns from them annually – as he probably filled in the form. The values of his shares in the companies he mentioned should have been stated as well. Or otherwise, he should have kept “secrets” secret. Afterall, he is not afraid of anything, or is he? He has never stolen anything, or has he? So it won’t hurt if he gives his total net-worth, say, something like “I have 7 houses that are worth N350 million altogether”. Moreover, he would already have given the total worth of these buildings in his assets declaration form as required. He probably also included the assets of his wife and children under 18 in the form, so, it won’t hurt if he makes these public as well.

Saraki the Billionaire and His Assets.

There isn’t much to say about Saraki and his assets. He has already been dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal and he should defend himself. However, considering that the Law governing the Code of Conduct Bureau empowers it to compel all public servants, including all Government employees at Federal, State, and Local Government levels to complete the Assets Declaration Forms at least once every four years, and the Code of Conduct Bureau claims to verify these declarations, one must necessarily wonder why the Bureau has taken a particular interest in Saraki. It may not be witch-hunting, but certainly appears as such.

Should Saraki resign? I’m not sure. Maybe he should, or perhaps he shouldn’t. There is no law in Nigeria that says that once anyone is dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the person should resign. So, he his free to stay on while facing his trial. Is it the honourable thing for him to resign? I think so, however, talking about honour – the Chairmen of both the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal have pending cases before the EFCC, shouldn’t they also resign? The Chairman of the EFCC too has not been cleared of allegations laid against him before the Senate, shouldn’t he also resign?

One particular thing caught my attention in the CCB case against Saraki. He was alleged to have declared in 2003 a property he didn’t purchase until 2006. I wish the CCB could explain why Saraki’s Assets Declaration was not verified between 2003 and 2006. I cautiously raised this on my Facebook page, a friend replied that “Once they (the CCB) were blind but now they can see. Change is here!”

That simplistic conclusion was not satisfactory. How did the CCB narrow down to Saraki amongst the hundreds of thousands of CCB1 forms it processes every year if not that the CCB deliberately took particular interest in Saraki? Or has the CCB cleared every public servant and found only Saraki wanting?

If the once blind CCB now sees, it would be seeing everything it hadn’t seen and everyone too. If the CCB sees only one person among more than the two million persons that it should be seeing, then it is still blind.

Has the CCB notified any career public servant that has not completed a CCB form in the last four years to do so as required by law? Does the CCB now have a timeline for verification of assets, say six months? As for example, any assets declared must be verified within six months? Then the verification process, how does it go? The CCB form requires a declaration of cash in hand, how does the Bureau verify cash in hand? If a public servant has N30 million in his bank account but keeps N170 million as cash in hand in a vault in his house, or factory or farm, how does the Bureau verify the cash in hand? Does the Bureau search the houses and count the cash stocks to ensure it is neither more no less than declared?

Change is here, I believe, but true change must be institutionalized such that when the changers grow old and die, the changes they instituted can live after them. Until then, any selective justice under any guise is also a form of injustice. Selective justice is actually not too far from despotism.

Have a good time and keep the insults (coming).


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