From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has asked the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to immediately publish assets declared by public and civil servants as part of ways to bolster the fight against corruption in the public sector.
The Commission also encouraged the Bureau to move to modify the Assets Declaration Form to include information that could assist in tracing assets such as BVN and new forms of investments such as cryptocurrency.
According to Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, the secrecy that surrounds asset declarations by public and civil servants in Nigeria was promoting corruption, thereby adding to the problem of insecurity and underdevelopment facing the nation.
Speaking during a meeting with the Chairman and board members of CCB, Owasanoye urged the Bureau to initiate digital declaration of assets as against the old manual declaration method, saying that it would help in the easy tracing and analysis of assets as well as enable CCB to update government with information on the lifestyles of both public and civil servants.
‘Publicising asset 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,’ he said.
‘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 assets and whether it is proportionate to their earnings.
“’f 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 owes. It will enable you to inform the government about the status of public servants, whether they are doing badly or not.’
Owasanoye, while offering the forensic platforms of the Commission to the CCB, added that that ICPC was willing to assist the Bureau with capacity building programmes for its staff.
He expressed the hope that CCB would be active in assets recovery as an enforcement measure, stating that public servants who lived beyond their legitimate income should have the illegally acquired assets taken away from them.
In his remarks earlier on, the Chairman of CCB, Professor Mohammed Isah, called for synergy between the anti-corruption agencies noting that the problem of corruption cannot be successfully tackled by one agency. He added that the Bureau was willing to share information on asset declaration with ICPC to aid its investigations.