August 2, 2015 : Ade Adesomoju
Two months after assuming office, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have yet to present themselves to the Code of Conduct Bureau for verification of their assets as required by law.
This is despite the fact that they had promised to make the details of their assets declared to the CBB public only after the verification exercise.
But two months after the private declaration of their assets, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt that the first and second citizens had yet to present themselves for the verification.
Section 3(a) of the Third Schedule of the nation’s 1999 Constitution, which is reproduced in section 3(b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act confers the power to verify the assets declared by the public officers on the CCB.
The Presidency had said until the CCB completed the verification, the President and the Vice-President would not make the details of their declared assets public as they promised during electioneering.
The Chairman of the CCB, Mr. Sam Saba, confirmed to our correspondent in an exclusive interview on Thursday that both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo had yet to show up for the verification.
According to him, the verification of the assets declared by a public officer involves two stages, which are conference and field verifications.
Under the conference verification, the public officer is expected to present documents such as statements of bank accounts, receipts and evidence of vehicle registration relating to the declared assets before a committee inaugurated by the bureau.
After the conference verification, the officers of the bureau and the public officer will agree on a convenient date when the CCB’s committee will visit the locations of the assets for physical inspection.
Saba stated that none of the two stages of verification had commenced with respect to the assets of the President and the Vice President.
Upon further inquiries, the CCB boss said the verification would commence “any moment from now”, adding that “we are waiting for when it is convenient for Mr. President and his Vice for us to go and do it.”
The CCB boss, who said the verification of assets of governors and deputy governors who were inaugurated on May 29, 2015, was ongoing, also disclosed the bureau was collaborating with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to aid the verification of the financial standings of public officers.
He said, “There is cooperation between us and other anti-corruption agencies. We have even signed memorandum of understanding.
“For example, if the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has a case that involves any public officer, they (EFCC) request for the forms (completed assets declaration form) from us and we give them, the same thing with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, including the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and when we need help we also ask them.
“I have just said that we should draft a letter to the NFIU requesting for the financial profile of the outgone governors and the incumbent ones so that we can make comparison in our verification exercise.”
Saba also stated that any public officer found to have made false declaration of assets after the ongoing verification exercise would be prosecuted before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“Definitely it will go to the tribunal, because it will be a breach,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, however told our correspondent on Saturday that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are not required to appear before the Code of Conduct Bureau for the verification of their assets.
Shehu said verification of assets is based on intelligence and is expected to be done discreetly by the bureau.
He said it is only when the bureau finishes the verification and discovers any discrepancy that it can revert to the President and Vice President.
The presidential aide urged Nigerians to be fair to the two officials, who, he said had declared their assets on their own and also promised to make the declarations public within their 100 days in office.
He said, “Nigerians should be fair to the President and the Vice President. There is no requirement for them to appear for verification.
“It is an intelligence exercise that should be done discreetly.
“They have declared their assets and have also promised to make it public within their 100 days in office.
“People should not sensationalise this issue unnecessarily.”