…says nothing can stop me once anyone is found culpable
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Prof. Isa Mohammed, on Thursday, vowed to move against currently serving Governors and Ministers that are found to have falsified their assets.
Mohammed, who took over the leadership of the CCB in November 2018, maintained that nothing will stop him from prosecuting them, once it is established that they failed to properly declare their assets as prescribed by the law.
“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that can stand on my way from prosecuting anyone that is found guilty”, the CCB boss told newsmen at the opening session of a three-day retreat for Board members, Management and State Directors of the Bureau.
Prof. Mohammed who insisted that the CCB is facing enormous challenges
According to the CCB Chairman, the essence of the retreat was to bring the management board and state directors of the establishment together to brainstorm and re-appraise some challenges he said hitherto hindered the Bureau from effectively executing its statutory mandate of entrenching probity in public service.
“Idea of a retreat between the management board and the state directors is so that we can sit down and tell ourselves the truth on why the CCB has not been able to perform over the 30 years that it has been in existence”.
He noted that before corruption became pervasive in Nigeria, the CCB, was already in place, saying it was established by the 1979 constitution and restated in the 1999 Constitution.
“All its mandates and the enabling Act is there in place as well as other extant laws, to ensure effective compliance and implementation of the code of conduct for public officers in Nigeria. But up till now we are still having enormous challenges”.
On alleged refusal of the Bureau to grant the public access to asset declaration forms that were submitted by some public officials, including Ministers currently serving in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, the CCB boss said the issue would get due consideration.
“We are going to study and see how far we can tackle this challenge. When we came in we met an installed system. That is why we are here. At the end of this retreat every bit of problem is going to be discussed and we are going to see a lot of improvements”, he stated.
Asked if there are plans to refer any serving Governor or Minister to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution, as was done in the case of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, the CCB Chairman said he would not hesitate to do so, once anyone of them is found culpable.
“In the first place I am not a politician. From my background I am an academician, I have never done any work except legal practice and in the academia. These are the only two jobs I ever did before I came into the CCB.
“As far as I am concerned there is nothing that can stand on my way from prosecuting anyone that is found guilty”, he added.
Earlier in a keynote address he presented at the event, Prof. Mohammed, said there was need for every staff of the CCB “to brace up to the task ahead”.
“The theme for this year’s retreat is, ‘The Role of Code of Conduct Bureau in the Prevention of Corruption in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects. It was carefully chosen in order to enable us take stock of where CCB is, what we are doing right or wrong and where We ‘ought’ to be.
“The issues germane to our situation include, role definition, performance monitoring and appraisal, developing right mental attitude to work by staff ,ethical re-orientation, setting achievable targets, through a strategic plan anchored on a strategic vision that seeks cooperation and partnership with development partners like the EU-funded RoLAC who are remarkable facilitators of this retreat.
“The Challenges facing CCB are quite enormous, but it is my firm belief that this retreat provides an opportunity to come up with a strategic roadmap to address all these.
“You should not just be bystanders, rather be creatively and actively engaged to surmount these challenges and the Board have dedicated ourselves to reposition the CCB in all aspects; funding, Staff re-orientation and motivation, capacity building through staff training and retraining towards increased professionalism.
“With this, it is my conviction that new vistas and frontiers for success in CCB are in the horizon. I therefore implore all participants to key into this new vision. State Directors in particular have been recognized as agents of reform in CCB considering their scope of operations.
“In this regard they should not hesitate to bring up ideas and insights that would enrich decision-making at the highest level.
“At this juncture, let me reaffirm that the prospects of CCB becoming a reference point in the anti -corruption war of the present regime are bright and within reach. Thus, the need for all hands to be on deck to drive this renewed impetus.
“With God on our side, the sky Should not just be the limit but the stepping stone to greatness”.
On his part, Mr Danladi Plang, the National Program Manager of Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, RoLAC, an agency under the British Council that facilitated the retreat, enjoined the CCB to enhance its cooperation with other anti-corruption institutions in the country.
Plang equally urged the CCB to not only carry out its mandate with fairness, but to also ensure strict adherence to its rules.