Need for public agencies to wake up to their responsibilities

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over the weekend, extended an investigation activity to the embattled but suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu. The invitation, according to the Director of Intelligence, Investigation & Monitoring, CCB, Alhaji Gwimi S. P, Magu was directed to produce all the acknowledgement slips of all the asset declarations he made since he joined public service.

It stressed that all the requested documents must be the Certified True Copies, CTC.

Other documents the erstwhile EFCC boss was asked to bring to the Bureau, include copies of his Appointment Letter, Acceptance, Records of Service and Pay Slips from January to May, 2020.

The invitation was made, according to Gwimi, “pursuant to the mandate and power of the Bureau as enshrined in the 3 Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 3 (e) to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended; Section 137 (a) and (b) and 138 (a) and (b) of Penal Code Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and Section 104 of evidence Act 2011”.

It would appear that the CCB is on top of its game. It would seem the agency is acting the script of the law that set it up. It would appear it is living up to the expectation of Nigerians in playing its watchdog role, over assets declaration made by certain category of public officers in the country.

It would be well and good if the CCB is playing to its mandate. It should be noted and stressed that the level of corruption rolling over itself in the country is unparalleled and compares with no other country in the world.

Nigeria is one country where the level of corrupt tendencies of its privileged few stinks to high heaven with such stupendous perfidy that the stench harasses the hell of Lucifer and its agents of darkness. Nigeria is one country where its public officials and dubious businessmen, go on shameless acquisition of wealth, as if devil is an apprentice in comparison.

But the tendency for its bureaucracy to only act only when a “drama” is played bemuses those who watch our attempt at claiming to fight corruption. The CCB and other public agencies are bodies set up under the law. They have all the constitutional and legal backing to carry out their duty. It is expected, therefore, that any public agency should simply carry out its duty as set out in the statute books setting up such agency.

It therefore becomes laughable or makes a mockery of its duty when any agency waits for an event to occur or for something or issue to happen, before it picks up its tools, pretending to be very busy carrying out its assignment.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in asking Magu to account. What triggers the instinct of ordinary Nigerians is when the CCB continues to run in circles as it did during the events that led to the unfortunate removal of Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria. During Justice Onnoghen’s epic removal, the CCB and its prosecutorial twin brother, the Code of Conduct Tribunal, operated like bull dogs unleashed against a china enamelware shop. The duo became hyper-active in the performance of their duties. They made Nigerians believe they had woken from slumber and that there was no going back to sleep. But, then, several Nigerians were not disappointed. It took the moves to knock off Magu’s hands and legs for the CCB to again wake up from even a deeper slumber to charge again on the sensibilities of Nigerians. Soon, CCT will follow. The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation will get cracking. The legal fireworks will peak once again and it would seem as if the nation must not allow corruption to have any breeding space.

If we must ask: Why must it take one controversy or another before the CCB wakes up to its responsibility? Secondly, why must our investigation procedures be such that our agencies always go fishing for evidence from an accused, even if it means, as they did with some justices of the Supreme Court, invading their suspects house in the dead of the night and even bringing down the walls of an entire premises? Must we pick our prosecutorial evidences from the hands of a suspect?

If the CCB is sure it was doing its job creditably as set out in the constitution, why must they be asking a suspect to bring a letter of appointment or letter of acceptance or bank statements, or even evidence of assets declaration made to it? Does this not show that the agency may not have been tidy in the performance of its statutory duty, a job for which it’s hierarchy are being paid?

The AUTHORITY does not wish to dictate to any agency, nonetheless the CCB, how it should go about carrying out its assignment. But, it becomes laughable when an agency as important as the CCB comes out to create the impression that it is tardy in carrying out its assignments. Why should such an important agency be unable to keep a file regarding its primary assignment? Would it not amount to gross dereliction of duty if the CCB turns out that it does not have any file or that it has only incomplete dossier on Magu, as the impression they have created suggests?

What we are saying here in effect is that all agencies of government should wake up from slumber and decide now to perform their statutory duties as set out in their statute. Not doing so is a breach of the Code of Conduct by the officers in such agencies and so, they too should be culpable. Fishing or engaging in other forms of subterfuge, such as trying to security evidence, through unorthodox means whatsoever is clear proof of dereliction of duty and should be treated as such. CCB has fooled Nigerians for too long. There are several public officers whose activities have turned controversial in recent times, but they chose to look the other way until perhaps, they are poked. If the CCB has been up and doing, most of the issues of corruption traced to public officers, for which the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been sweating out to unravel, would not have come to these agencies in the first place as the CCB would have earlier tracked such.

There is therefore the clarion call for all agencies of government to kindly sit up and perform their assignments as they ought to. Not doing so is a breach of the Code of Conduct, for which the CCB should act and not wait for someone somewhere to pinch it to wake up and do.

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