CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar

Code of Conduct Tribunal Frustrating Fight Against Corruption – CCB

… as CSOs urge incoming administration to digitize assets declaration

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) says its primary responsibility of checking corrupt practices is challenged by inadequate funding and failure of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to sit on corruption cases ‘for some years now.’
The tribunal is responsible for the trial of public officers found to have falsified assets in their declaration before and after taking public office.

Deputy Director Code of Conduct Bureau, Michael Okwose, said that after rigorous investigations, public officers indicted are hardly put to trial.

Okwose disclosed this while participating in a special radio town hall meeting on corruption organized by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) at the weekend in Abuja.

CCB is a pioneer anti-corruption agency set up by the Federal Government to maintain a high morality standard and check corrupt practices among public officers. CCT is an independent administrative court of the bureau.

Deputy Director Code of Conduct Bureau, Michael Okwose

Okwose, while calling on the incoming Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s government to prioritize funding of the bureau, said the Code of Conduct Bureau could not boast of bringing corrupt politicians or public office holders to book in the last couple of years because Code Conduct Tribunal, which is constitutionally empowered to try corruption investigations failed to ‘sit’ for no known reason in the last two years.

“The challenge we have in the bureau is our court in the Code of Conduct Tribunal. We carry out investigations. We receive petitions from the public about non-compliance with the conduct of public officers. We receive complaints about people breaching their provisions, and after investigation, we refer our cases to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“What I can tell you is the tribunal is not sitting. It makes us (CCB) look like we’re not doing anything.

“For some years now, the CCT hardly sits. There are so many pending cases before the tribunal. So that is why if you talk about conviction now, there is none because the tribunal is not sitting. That is our major problem,” Okwose emphasized.

On strengthening the CCB, Okwose urged the incoming administration to empower the CCB. “We need funds to carry out investigation and verification; we also need personnel recruitment. Everything is down to funding”.

The Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Community Empowerment for Youth and Women Initiative, Lukman Adefolahan, backed calls for adequate funding of CCB, adding that the incoming administration must tighten public procurement processes, empower the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation and amend the audit law that is currently in use if it truly wants to fight corruption.

Presenter interacting with guests during the radio town hall meeting

Adefolahan also said the government should digitize the assets declaration of public office holders and work towards cutting the cost of governance immediately by reviewing and implementing the Orosanye White Paper Report.

“We are still using the 1956 Audit Act in Nigeria, which is pre-colonial. It is very unfortunate. If we can get CCB right, if we get Office of Auditor General right, ICPC, EFCC and others will be doing lesser work,” he stated.

On his part, the Director of Legal and Documentation, Center for Transparency Advocacy, Tochukwu Ohazurike, said the Tinubu administration must possess the political will to fight corruption if it will make any progress while joining calls for digitization of assets declaration at CCB.

His words:” If he (Tinubu) has the willpower, let him digitize CCB, digitize issues of property sales and transactions in the entire country. Something must be done about our criminal justice system”.

Media Consultant & Activist Princess Halima Jubril lamented that the media did not fare well under the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari administration on many fronts, especially the three major mantras the administration campaigned, which were anti-corruption, economy and security.

Jubril urged the incoming government to be holistic in their anti-corruption approach and ensure adequate funds are provided for CCB to do their job. She added that the media would not relent in their responsibility to hold the government to account as mandated by the constitution.

Participants at the town hall meeting.

The PRIMORG’s Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption series is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.

The syndicated radio program runs with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

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